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How to Pick Paint for a Room Refresh

How to Pick Paint for a Room Refresh

Breakfast buffet table against wall with window
Written by Victoria Van Vlear

When you go to pick paint, the process can be either very fun, or extremely painful. But don’t worry! We’re here to help. This is a big topic, so we won’t be giving you suggestions on actual paint colors. We do have additional resources for picking specific neutrals, like white and gray. Here, we’re going to teach you the easiest method you can use to pick paint for any room in your home.

This is part of our 7 Steps to Get Remodel Ready series! To get the full series and free printables to help you plan your room refresh, sign up here!

This vintage farmhouse also has a boys' room with dark shiplap and a picture of an unfinished California flag wood art
Bedrooms are a great space to experiment with paint colors, such as this boy’s bedroom by homeowner Heather Tartaglia. Photograph by Chad Mellon.

Pick Paint that Goes With Your Room Vision

In our 7 steps to getting remodel ready, we put the job to pick paint as number 6. Why so late in the process? Because by this time, you should have a most of the elements of your room picked out, as well as the room vision. This means you know your color palette, and can coordinate the walls with any focal pieces you’ve fallen in love with. For example, if you find a forest green velvet sofa you love, you won’t want to paint your walls green too—you’ll want a contrasting accent color like white, cream or light gray.

This Texas farmhouse office space has a dark gray zig-zag shiplap wall and two chalkboard signs with cursive script.
In this elegant workspace for two by Holly and Brad Lauritzen, they used several shades of gray to get the serious and studious look they were going for. Photograph by Michael Hunter.

Paint a Poster Board

When you go to the home improvement or paint store, bring any relevant fabric or wallpaper samples with you so you can make them work with the elements you already have picked out for the room. Pick paint by seeing what swatch colors catch your eye, then comparing them to your fabric, wallpaper, or whatever else you’ve brought so you can make sure everything will work cohesively.

Then buy a sample (we recommend trying 2-3 colors at once), and a couple poster boards. When you get home, paint each color onto a single poster board. Make sure you fill the board! Then tape up the poster boards in the room you’re redoing.

Sitting room with mantel and fireplace
In her 100 year old farmhouse, homeowner Leslie Saeta painted the living room with with Old Barn Milk Paint, and completed the DIY project by adding two ceiling tiles on the top.

To make sure you pick paint that really works in the room, leave those poster boards up for at least a week. Walk into the room and look at the paint in different lighting—from the morning sun that comes into the room to the golden afternoon light and the artificial light in the room at night. Make sure the paint works in all lighting situations. Then you’re ready to paint the whole room.

See Also
Outdoor raised bed in backyard

Think About Resale

Honestly, paint color is one of the easiest aspects to update in a room. But if you’re getting your home ready to sell, or think you might sell in the next several years, you’ll want to be conscience of resale value when you paint. Right now, the best colors for resale value are light neutrals, like white, cream or a pale gray.


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