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Take the ‘pain’ out of making paint choice

The bright yellow leaves fallen on my lawn, albeit heat-induced, remind me that autumn will soon bring us its fabulous color palette. Early fall and preholidays is the perfect time to paint because opening windows for ventilation is ideal. And it will get your house spiffy for the upcoming gatherings. If painting is on your to-do list, start planning now.

Choosing a paint color can be a nerve-wracking feat. I’ve seen many people with that deer-caught-in-headlights look as they stand stupefied in front of the paint chip wall.

Clients often ask my opinion about what paint color they should “go with.” What a loaded question. Paint choice, like taste, is very personal. My response always bounces back several questions. What mood do you want to create in this room? What’s your decor? Have you been in a room you can remember that you loved the wall color? And so on.

No one wants to be disappointed by a new paint color, and there are so many factors that play into its choice. For these reasons I’ve accumulated a list of ways people can narrow choices so coloring their world can be an enjoyable and effective process.

How to choose a paint color

■ What mood do you want to create? It’s consensus in scientific and design worlds that color affects mood (human behavior in general). When choosing a color you have to consider if it’s a room for relaxation, work, conversation, etc.

Here’s a broad-stroke color-mood guide:

Reds: sensuous, bold, surging

Orange: appetite inducing, playful

Yellows: happy, stimulating

Greens: nature, wellness, fresh

Blues: water, tranquility, calming

Purple: mystical, reflectiveness, romantic

White: purity, mind clearing, ethereal

Black: power, seriousness, grounding

Gray: practical, quiet, neutral

Brown: earthy, cozy, stable

■ Consider how much natural and artificial light exists in the room. While lighter paints reflect light, dark ones absorb it, which is perfect for creating a subdued, cozy space. From an energy-efficient standpoint, light walls will naturally reduce flipping lights on. Did you know that artificial light accounts for approximately 12 percent of your power bill (EnergyStar.gov)?

■ Pull colors from nature. I had renovated a small beach bungalow whose owner was flummoxed with paint choice. I suggested she take an oyster shell and choose a color palette from it. She pulled white, light gray and periwinkle and created the perfect seascape palette she was hoping for.

■ Pull colors from a loved article. Let’s say you have a cherished painting or fabulous throw pillow; pull colors from them and build from there. With a minimum 1-by-1 inch color sample, paint stores can create your color through computerized color-matching systems. This method is also great to touch up blemishes on existing wall color.

■ Try a paint-color app like ColorSnap. These apps make paint choice easier by letting you paint your wall virtually or match a paint color to a photo.

Once you’ve narrowed down choices to two or three, buy sample jars for color tests in the space. It’s best to paint a large sheet of poster board and hang it around different parts of the room and at different times of the day, as these factors will affect the color.

Tip: As a rule, colors on paint chips appear lighter than when they’re on walls.

If you’re still stuck, a safe choice is to go neutral, then choose one accent wall to pop some color.

Paint finish is an important element to consider. Flat, eggshell, satin, semigloss and gloss all offer a different look and functionality. Keep in mind that flat finishes have no “scrubability,” where as higher shine finishes wash well. From a design standpoint, there’s no hard and fast rule on finish.

On a final note, paints that offer low-VOC and zero-VOC (volatile organic compounds) are always the best choice for your health and the environment.

Now that you’re armed with painting know-how, go color with confidence.

Norma Vally is a seasoned veteran of home improvement; her career includes four seasons as host of Discovery Home Channel’s Emmy-nominated series “Toolbelt Diva.” A columnist and author, Vally splits her time in Southern Nevada, Los Angeles and New York City. Follow her on Facebook at Norma Vally “Toolbelt Diva” and visit her at www.NormaVally.com. Email Norma@NormaVally.com.

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