How do I know if I like a color?
Look in your closet. What color are your clothes?
Are there clothes you never want to wear?
Many of us are overwhelmed when trying to decide what color to use in our homes. That's OK, this is not unusual. Decisions are difficult, deciding what color to paint your front door can leave you feeling unsure.
There are tools and tricks for you to use, consider some of these.
Test drive a color
How can I predict how colors will look? There are many different paint color apps. Some let you photograph your wall or door and digitally try out a new color, or try it on a sample room, and some apps match colors.
How can I know if colors will look good together?
When choosing color, consider ones that are near each other on the color wheel, this is called Analogous.
Warm or Cool
Look for colors that are either warm or cool A warm grey will have more reddish tones, the cool grey will look bluer. To check this, put both samples on a white piece of paper. you will see some are warmer and some are cooler.
Colors that are opposite on the color wheel are called Complimentary. This is not the same as someone 'giving you a compliment' saying your hair looks nice today. in the world of color, complimentary means directly opposite on the color wheel; Yellow & Purple, Turquoise & Orange, Green & Red are a few examples.
You want to consider proportion when combining complimentary colors. Adding an accent of a pillow or work of art in the opposite color may be just the right amount of life a room needs, or it can be unsettling. A little goes a long way.
Consider a variation in the intensity of the complimentary colors. For example, if your room is yellow, then maybe a violet or light pale purple would be more calming than a bright saturated purple against a bright yellow bedspread. You can even create a visual phenomena called 'vibrating boundaries' where the colors seem to be moving where they meet, when using bright fully saturated colors.
See Color Phenomena for more.
Tinting a color with white softens all colors. This will both brighten the room and dim the intensity of the color.
Shade is the term used to darken a color, as in what happens when the sunlight is blocked by an umbrella. The color shifts to a darker tone.
Value is the term used to describe the range of dark to light, often shown as 'grey scale' used for comparison. Creating a Grey Scale is surprisingly difficult, students are asked to make a row of light to dark in 10 steps. This design school classic not only helps us learn to mix colors and greys in smooth progression, t also trains our eyes to the subtleties of shade, tint, and value.
Saturation is the term used to describe the intensity of the color. The most 'saturated' colors are the ones we learn to recognize in Kindergarten: Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Red, Orange.
Is it Yellow Orange or Orange Yellow?
The name that goes last is the dominant color. If appears more like a lemon, it is Orange Yellow, conversely; if it appears more like a tangerine, it is Yellow Orange. This is subjective, meaning it is up to an individual to decide. Everyone sees color a little differently.
For review from some of the other pages, Color in Paint:
Combine all colors in paint and you get black : Combine all colors in light and you get white.
The Primary Colors in paint are: Yellow, Blue, Red
The Secondary Colors in paint are: Green, Orange, Purple
Colors that are opposite on the color wheel are called 'Complimentary.'
The appearance of pigments, paints, and dyes is dependant on the lighting.
In retail stores, it is not uncommon for customers to take merchandise to a window, "To see how it looks in natural light." You can't beat Mother Nature. And it is hard to replicate the sun.
Visit the Light section to learn more about color bias of various light sources and how you can achieve the best possible color rendering within your budget, code, and energy constraints.
Be clear on your assumptions and expectations.
Design professionals make a color board
A color board gives you a chance to see the colors next to each other, either on your computer screen, a piece of paper, or on a large board with actual samples of textiles, carpet, tiles, wood, granite, brick, and paint.
Gloss, Eggshell, Matt?
The amount of shine in your paint will affect how the color looks, shiny paint reflects more light. it also shows more flaws in the wall surface.
Paint chips are flat or matt finish.
When you paint your wall, it will dry and look one or two steps differnt than the paint chip. When wet, it will look darker.
Heavy use or moisture laden rooms like bathrooms and door trims are usually painted in Gloss or Semi-Gloss finish.
Paint Chips, Fan Decks, & Samples
There is an old joke among painters about how a customer wanted a rose color, except when it was finished, the color was not what was expected. The rose had wilted and faded to brown by the time the paint was matched.
When in doubt, ask for a sample.
Today, we can buy a tiny can of paint for a few dollars, this allows you to test it on the wall, or if you prefer, on a piece of paper taped to the wall. Some companies offer large size stickers.
We used to order 'draw downs' that were 8x10 painted cards of colors being considered.
Whatever method you choose, be sure to check it under different times of day and different lighting conditions. With today's LED's and their inherient color bias, you may be surprised that the color has shifted or is duller, more grey, or brighter than expected. See LED Color Rendering
We humans can see over 7 million colors!
Sherwin Williams has a series of paint and application educational programs available for free on their CEU (Continuing Education Units) website.