How To: Pick the Perfect Paint

It’s confession time, friends! I’m a bit of a paint junkie. I spend far more time thinking about, selecting and analyzing paint colors than any one person should. I’ve painted every apartment or house I’ve ever rented or owned and in that time I’ve amassed a big collection of favorite go-to paint colors. So today I’m going to break it down for you and share a handful of (nearly) fail-proof colors to help you get started if you’re one of those folks who finds yourself completely daunted by the task of choosing paint colors. (And trust me, you’re not alone — most people are!) First up, a few general rules of thumb…

1. Just go for it! In the grand scheme of things, paint is the cheapest way to instantly change your space. If the color isn’t perfect, you can always start over.

2. For walls, I always suggest an eggshell finish paint for most rooms. The exception would be the bathroom where a satin finish will be a bit more durable to steam and water. For trim and doors, always go with semi-gloss as it will make it much easier to clean.

3. I personally love Benjamin Moore, Olympic’s no-VOC paint, and Behr Premium Plus. When it comes to paint, quality definitely helps ensure it goes on quicker, easier and covers nicely so you aren’t spending your whole weekend painting.

4. With brighter colors (like blue, red, green, yellow, etc.) consider going a shade or two lighter on the strip. Colors look much more saturated and crayon-like on the walls than they do on that tiny strip. If you love a color but don’t want a huge blast of it in your face, consider choosing a similar shade with a more muted, gray undertone.

5. I never paint test swatches. I just bring home strips, compare, compare, compare and go for it. (And I’ve only ever screwed up once, knock on wood!) That said, many brands offer sample containers of various colors so you can paint a chunk of a wall, study it and then commit to your favorite without fear.

And now, onto the good stuff – here are some of my favorite paint colors to get you started!

  • White 1 of 8
    If you're into light-colored walls, skip the off-white and go with a bright, fresh, clean white. It is much more pleasing to the eye than most off-white shades. Bonus -- white walls are very fashionable!
    My picks: Benjamin Moore's Decorators White or Cloud White, Glidden's Dove White or Behr's Cascade White.
    Photo from Mrs. Howard Personal Shopper.
  • Blue 2 of 8
    Blue is a color that can easily go Smurfy in a hurry. But I love blue so just think about going lighter and a bit more gray to keep it fairly foolproof.
    My picks: Benjamin Moore's Quiet Moments or Beach Glass, Behr's Harbor Mist or Flint Smoke
    Photo from Apartment Therapy.
  • Gray 3 of 8
    I could go on and on about gray. It looks amazing in any room you can think of -- go with a cool gray for a touch more gray-blue or a warm gray for a more gray-brown effect.
    My picks: Benjamin Moore's Stonington Gray, Revere Pewter, Kendall Charcoal or Gray Owl, Olympic's Quill or Glidden's Silver Dust.
    Photo from Daffodil Design.
  • Yellow 4 of 8
    Yellow is notoriously hard to pick! This is definitely color where you want to go a touch lighter and more buttery to keep it from looking like a kid's art project gone wrong.
    My picks: Benjamin Moore's Hawthorne Yellow or Martha Stewart's Cornbread
    Photo from Benjamin Moore.
  • Brown 5 of 8
    I will admit, brown is not my favorite. If I'm going neutral I prefer gray because I find it more universal and soothing. That said, brown can be super rich and inviting!
    My picks: Benjamin Moore's Whitall Brown or Stampede, Glidden's Olivewood.
    Photo from Houzz.
  • Red 6 of 8
    Red can go very orange or pink really quickly. Determine which end of the red spectrum you'd like to be on, then compare swatches to each other and to your other fabrics or accessories to find the best fit!
    My picks: Benjamin Moore's Paper Lantern or Crushed Velvet, or Glidden's Red Delicious
    Photo from Apartment Therapy.
  • Green 7 of 8
    Green can be soft and soothing or rich and dramatic. I particularly love it in living rooms and kitchens.
    My picks: Benjamin Moore's Guilford Green or Silken Pine, Restoration Hardware's Silver Sage, or Valspar's Chive
    Photo from decorpad.
  • Jewel Tones 8 of 8
    Jewel tones are bold, dramatic and super sophisticated while being really cozy. They can be a little tricky, but definitely give it a go if you love this look!
    My picks: Benjamin Moore's Dragonfly, Dark Harbor or Gentleman's Gray, Sherwin Williams's Loyal Blue or Indigo, Martha Stewart's Plumage, or Glidden's Black Tulip.
    Photo from On to Baby.

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