How to choose a paint color for any room in your house!

Often, when people learn that my bachelor degree is in interior design, ultimately one of the first questions they ask me is, "What color should I paint __________ (room)?"

This is something no interior designer can honestly answer when they enter a home for the first time. While the designer may have his/her own preferences, he/she is not the person living or working in the space, the client is! Because of that simple truth, I have to first doe some simple detective work before I can make a recommendation.

Often when clients hire me as a consultant, they merely want to have their color choice/theme/schematic to be validated, which I do after verifying what their vision for the space is and how they want to feel when they are in the completed room. Sometimes I offer suggestions that tweak their original color choice(s). Sometimes the client needs assistance in identifying what color(s) they want to use in the space and so that is what I help them accomplish. 

The tools, techniques and tips I use are basic and I believe that ANYONE can understand the process I use with my clients. 

What color you paint a room depends ultimately on what effect you want to achieve. I will ask my clients the following FIVE questions:
#1 What is your vision for this space/room?
#2 Is there a theme you want to accomplish in the room?
#3 Are you looking to make a statement in the room?
#4 Do you have any colors in mind for this room?
#5 A) Do you want a south or west facing room to feel cooler? (the hottest rays of the day come from the south and the west)
#5 B) Do you want a north or east facing room to feel warmer? (the coolest rays of the day come from the east and the north)

 Once these basic questions are answered I then proceed to make my suggestions based on my understanding of color psychology, which is actually founded in the physics of color. 

Isaac Newton was the first scientist to identify that light is the source of the color sensation. The ability of the human eye to distinguish colors is based upon the varying sensitivity of different cells in the retina to light of different wavelengths (this explains where color blindness originates).  Just as different types of music can affect our mood based on its wavelength and frequency (for example: Vivaldi's Four Seasons compared to anything from the death metal genre), color has the same affect on us although we are less consciously attuned to the subtle affects of color as we are to the affects of music.

Within the world of color there are hues (pure saturated color), tints (hue + white), tones (hue + grey) and shades (hue + black). Each has a different psychological effect on people:
1.      Hues are vibrant and striking - because they are so reflective, concise, and clear they are used to create a statement.  
2.      Tints are bright and animated - they create a light upward movement and can evoke thoughts of lightheartedness and fun.
3.      Tones are soft & subtle - they provide comfort, peace, calm and security.
4.      Shades are rich and dynamic - they provide visual texture and substance to a space .

In summary, to determine what color you should paint whichever room you are wanting to paint, ask yourself and answer my FIVE questions and from those answers you will have a clearer vision of what effect you want to create in your room/space. Once you know what effect you want to create it narrows down which palette you should choose your color from: hue, tint, tone, or shade. Once you narrow that down it is ALL about personal preference! 

by Yvonne Russell, Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from BYU-Idaho


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