Picking Interior Paint Colour Isn’t Easy

5 Tips to Save Money/Time

07 September 2017

Picking Interior Paint Colour Isn’t Easy

Picking an Interior Paint colour isn’t easy so I came up with 5 Tips that might prevent you from not being happy with the results. Painting is  a relatively cheap way of freshening up a room but the labour time is not.  Whether you paint it yourself or pay someone to do it, it is the labour that adds up. So, it is important that you pick out the right colour the first time. However, picking a paint colour is not easy and can be costly .



You don’t want to paint a room twice because it is the wrong colour the first time.

If you have fabric or flooring that you have in place then these need to be considered at this time. Or if you have an accent wall you don’t want to replace, then it has to be seriously considered. Particularly, if it is a strong colour. Remember a red bold colour accent wall can make your neutral walls change colour due to the reflection.

Generally the paint store/ paint department has a person that is knowledgeable about paint. This is, where over the years, I have been given great advice. I also have a super good friend who is a professional colour specialist for commercial properties that will give me her feedback. With any DIY projects I ask all kinds of questions and discuss it with friends/professionals that have had experience.

There is a reason why there are free paint chips!  Gather the chips that you like and maybe some you are unsure of.  Many times I have picked out chips that I thought were so perfect in the store lighting and then asked myself, “what was I thinking?”  Then, take the chips and pin them to the walls and leave them there for a couple of days.  It is good to see what they look like in a dreary day, sunny day and at night. Different light bulbs can change the aura of a room as well.

I should admit I am not good at this process because I want to paint that day. However, patience will save you a lot of time.  Who wants to live with a room that is the wrong color?

Keep moving the chips around the room to narrow it down to a couple of colours. Remember if there is a big window the colour may be more washed out on the wall facing the window and darker on the window side.

Next, go back to the paint store and get little sample cans and paint sizeable samples on walls of your one or two of the best test colours.  Most paint stores offer sample cans or large painted swatches. Yes, a sample can does cost around $10.00 ( which kills me ) but it may save you a day of hard labour and a gallon of paint that will go to waste.  How much is your time worth??? Certainly more than $10.00.

If you are going to prime the wall then do so before trying a sample.   This will give you the true colour.

When painting my daughter’s basement we had our hearts set on a very light grey with a blue undertone to only find out that the room’s lighting made it look way too dark. Yet, I have used the that same grey in so many other rooms and it looked great. We should  have done a patch sample first. You think I would know better!!  Plan B was put in place so we didn’t have to waste a gallon of paint.   Fortunately we used the grey paint up in the master bedroom instead. The master bedroom has lots of natural light so it worked. 


This tip is where most people are scratching their heads.  What are you talking about??  Isn’t a grey or white just that? The answer is NOT AT ALL!

Below, is a great image from Behr’s Pinterest page.  It is a perfect example of how many greys there are and the different undertones.

You can see there are so many grey interior paints on the market for interior paint and there is a good reason for that. Some have cool undertones and some have warm undertones that work better with specific flooring or fabrics. The key is to make sure the undertones work with other things in the room!

Take a peek at the very talented colour specialist Kate Smith explanation on undertones on her site. Kate gets right into it and  explains it perfectly.

Also, take a look at ULYZA’s  Color Palette Pinterest board as it will show you tons of other examples of colour ways.



Determine what your decor style is because it will help direct you to the right colour family that represents that decor style.  A good example is blue. If your home is contemporary, then it is unlikely that you would use the same blue as a country home.
As a rule, I keep the walls neutral and use the powerful colours for accents. This is not a hard and fast rule, but if you are uncertain, then keep to the neutrals.    If you have ever had to paint over a orange or deep blue wall you will never paint a large space that colour again.  Recently it took me two coats of primer to cover three blue bedrooms in my daughters house.  That is no fun! ( probably that is why I hope this post is read by many people).

The two palettes below are good examples of Mid Century Modern and Bohemian. Clearly neither of these palettes would work in a Shabby Chic home.  I will write another post on defining specific colours to certain decor styles. It will be a simple guideline as all rules are made to be broken.


I always have to check my list to remember if I use – flat, matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, gloss, shiny.
Different paint manufacturers use different terms for interior paint. Therefore, it is important to keep track of the finish as well as colour.  However, you will find a paint manufacturer will keep to around 5 finishes to keep things relatively simple.

First thing to consider is knowing if the area will have a lot of traffic and will need to be washed. If so then that leaves flat out of the equation.  I gravitate to flat or an eggshell finish for walls but that is because I have lived in older homes and the walls are far from perfect.  The flat can hide a lot of sins and prevents glares, but doesn’t clean well. This is why I move up to an eggshell finish that can cope with a being whipped with a damp cloth.  If you use flat in a high traffic area, then chances are you will be disappointed because it cannot cope with deep cleaning.

The glossier paints tend to have higher resin levels which will make it more hardy and can deal with more traffic and washings.  Therefore, a satin can be scrubbed a bit more, which is good for trim, baseboards ,doors and walls.  If you wanted to play safe then satin generally is the best overall good finish for the interiors.

Semi-glosses are known to be more durable and washable and super for high moisture areas. Providing you are comfortable with the sheen that highlights imperfections.  Gloss is used on smaller areas that need super durability like cabinets, woodwork and trim. In all circumstances walls should never be shinier than the trim.  You may not like the price tag on glossier paint as well, as it generally a little more pricey.


Have you ever painted a room and still see the original colour bleeding through? You think how could that yellow still be showing!!  It does and the only way to get rid of it is two coats and/or prime .  There are some exceptionally good paints out there that claim only one coat needed and or primer included in formulae.  This is true, but you may find that you have missed some spots and some colours are really hard to cover.  I find the first coat takes me longer to paint than the second coat.  The second coat goes on easily and I always find a couple of areas where they looked good the first day but not the second day.  Also, be aware that if you are using a strong /dark colour you made need several coats which could impact your budget.  My powder room is painted a dark navy and it took 3 coats.  It probably could have taken another coat. The additional coat meant we would have to buy more paint. ( which was not in our budget)


If you are painting a whole house them create a spread sheet with each room on it.

Indicate : Room- Part of Room- Brand- Colour name – colour number- type of finish and attach a swatch.
This has saved me so much time.  I print off copies and tape it to the walls that are being painted. Then the painter or myself cannot grab the wrong paint.
I also use this spread sheet when I am out shopping for anything that goes in that room.  As you can see a grey with orange undertone cushion may not work if it is a grey with a purple undertone room.  This will save you lots of time and money.

Many thanks as well to Home Depot for all the amazing interior paint chips!


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