How to Pick Paint Colours for Your Home

These tips will help you get started on the daunting task of choosing the perfect paint colour to go up on your walls.

Updated on June 21, 2017 9:06 am

Camille Besinga


Ever been overcome with paralysis whenever you’re at the hardware store, looking at paint chips? We’ve all been there, and many times, we went home with no paint cans in hand.

Heed these tricks and techniques to get you started, and finally get some colour on your walls.

1. Instead of looking for a paint colour that you like, figure out how you want to feel in a particular room or space first. Colour affects—and even alters—one’s moods significantly, and there’s a huge amount of psychological research to back that statement up. So try to think: do you want a bedroom that relaxes or invigorates you? Do you want a kitchen that will make you feel hungry? Do you want a living room that soothes the eye? A home office or crafting room that gets your creative juices going? Answering these questions will help you significantly narrow down your choices.


The cool neutral greys and creams in this master suite help its occupants feel calm and relaxed.


A red bedroom is suitable for younger residents, as red tends to stimulate and energise. Word of caution though: You might find it hard to make the kids go to sleep!


2. Consider the finishes employed in the room, particularly those that you don’t intend on changing (these may include wood trim, tiles, hardware, and other fixtures), as well as the décor and accessories you plan on bringing in. The paint colour you choose should still complement them, like terracotta orange walls in this Asian-inspired bedroom with natural wood trim and doors.

3. Test paint samples at home. If your hardware store cannot provide you with paint chips, buy the smallest cans available of your preferred paint colours, and paint a swatch on the wall you wish to cover. Then, inspect it at different times of the day. This way, you’ll know what the colour looks and feels like in the morning, at mid-day, in the afternoon, and at dusk, as well as under artificial light. These different sources of light all have different effects on colour, and testing is the only way you’ll know if the particular colour you painted is something you can live with.

4. Pick out a particular home item you like and take your colour cue from it. It can be anything: A favourite pillow case, artwork, rug, or accessory. Don’t forget to bring that item in the room when you’ve done repainting the walls, to tie it all in with the colour scheme.


The blue dress of the woman in the painting dictated the kind of blue that would adorn these kitchen walls.



5. Collect photos of rooms whose colours you like or are drawn to. Go through magazines, design books, or even blogs and websites (check out our Inspiration section!) for inspiration. Cut out photos from magazines and keep them in a file or scrapbook for reference. Or, use a site or mobile app like Pinterest where you can dump all your room colour pegs. You can also use the colour search tool of Apartment Therapy, which is another great way of choosing an entire palette.

6. If using more than two or three colours, remember to assign one colour as the predominant one, and let the other two act as accents. This is where a colour wheel will come in handy. While this may seem very technical at first, using such a tool will help you know which colours go well together or not.


Tips to remember:

Primary colours (blue, red, and yellow) are the colours mixed up to create other colours.

Secondary colours are made by mixing two primary colours together. Blue and yellow make green; red and blue make violet; yellow and red make orange.

Tertiary colours are made by mixing one primary colour with one secondary colour. Some examples include blue-violet, red-orange, yellow-green.

Complementary colours are colours that are exactly the opposite each other on the colour wheel, like blue and orange.

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Cover photo courtesy of Homefuly


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