Painting a Room: Choosing the Right Color for You

Painting the rooms of your home can be both exciting and worrisome. On the one hand, it gives you an opportunity to use your creativity to leave your mark on the home. On the other hand, finding just the right color combinations can be maddening. And if you may need to sell the house in the near future, you want to choose colors that won’t be too outrageous or unorthodox that they turn off potential buyers.

Fortunately, paint isn’t permanent. If you paint a room and decide you don’t like it, you can repaint! Of course, it will save you a lot of hassle if you pick good color combinations from the get-go.

Painting the four walls

A general guideline is that you should paint large rooms in bright, warm colors to pull the walls in, and paint small rooms in cool colors to make the room feel larger.

If you want to shake up a room’s color but still keep it sellable, consider these colors:

  • Earth tones. Earthy shades of your favorite colors complement a room that has a lot of wicker and wood.
  • Browns. Don’t limit yourself to plain old beige when there are myriad shades and tints of brown that can be a great room color. Use light to medium shades of brown for a main color and dark brown for accents.
  • Blue. Lighter shades of blue are great for bedrooms, especially bedrooms that get a lot of natural light, where blue walls can call to mind images of open skies.
  • Neutral colors. Realtors always encourage home sellers to paint rooms in neutral colors, which means they usually end up beige. But there’s more to neutral than beige; creams, browns, light blues and even grays are also neutral, not to mention more interesting. Note: White is not a neutral color; it’s bright and can give a room a stark appearance.
  • Oranges and reds. These aren’t common colors for a room, but you can get away with them (especially in a kitchen) if you stick to soft hues.
  • Yellow. When paired with dark accents, yellow can radiate warmth. Yellow walls with white trim evoke images of sunny spring days. Be careful that you don’t get too bright, though. A well-lit bright yellow wall can be blinding.

The fifth wall: Painting the ceiling

Ceilings are the largest flat space in any room, but they often get overlooked when it comes time to repaint a room. Be sure to set up a platform so that you’re safe while you paint (especially high ceilings), and make sure the ceiling color works with the colors and textures of the rest of the room. Keep these tips in mind when you think about what you want to see when you look up:

  • If a room doesn’t get a lot of natural light, a white ceiling can raise the amount of perceived light in the room.
  • Flat ceilings don’t get a lot of direct sunlight, so if you want ceilings that are the same color as the walls (appropriate in some cases), you’ll get a better match if you cut the color strength in half.
  • Painting the ceiling pale blue creates the feeling of a sky above you, which is great if you want an open, airy feel for the room.
  • If you decided to use patterned wallpaper on the walls, paint the ceiling the color of the wallpaper’s background.
  • Unless you’re painting a very high ceiling that you’re trying to pull down, don’t paint it a darker color than the walls.

When you’re ready to start painting the ceiling, avoid lines by painting a cut line (paint inward from a corner with a brush) and then, while the cut line is still wet, painting in the rest of the ceiling.

In the end, tradition and color theory take a back seat to taste, specifically your taste. It’s your room in your house, so what really matters is whether you like it. Make sure you choose colors you can live with.

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