Making the Right Paint Choice, Part 1

When you have a room with neutral carpeting, simple moldings and no architectural features, your choice of wall color can be based on personal preferences without much if any reference to what is in the room. But in the case of the man in the photo, it’s more complicated.

Paint in this case has to work with the off-white stone and black opening of the fireplace, black trim in the room as well as the varied shades of brown making up the wood floor. Then he may have some furniture that will be going in the room as well as an area rug or two.

From the paint selection fan in his hand, it’s clear that he hasn’t yet narrowed down his choices. Realistically, the first step is deciding what specific color he likes. With this set-up, he could go light or dark, mid-tones and almost any color.

The trick will be getting just the right version of his preferences. Too dark and the floor and fireplace will stand out like a beacon. Paint it too light or neutral, the color of the wall currently, and nothing will come into focus.

Suppose we start with a brown – dark enough to blend with the richer tones of the wood floor while still light enough to keep the room from feeling gloomy. The floor has warm tones and the fireplace tones are cool, so the brown needs to balance cool and warm to work well with both pieces. To begin, this man needs to narrow his focus to several possible browns that meet these criteria. In part two, we’ll talk about how to go from the paint fan to the final color.

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