6 Tips To Help You Choose The Perfect Paint Color

Choosing the perfect paint color is not an easy task! There are so many things to think about and lots of ways to get it so wrong! With a few helpful, savvy, and doable tips you can choose the perfect paint color for your home!

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This post is one to read and reread! It has so many smart tips to help you choose the perfect paint color!!!!

I’m sharing images of both our StoneGable home and the Tanglewood house so you can get a look at a couple different colors and how they look in a room.

Neutral color wall with vintage lids hanging on it.

I get tons of emails asking about the colors of my walls and trim at StoneGable and Tanglewood. Even though I found my perfect paint color I did not always make the best color choices!

I used to almost get sick in the pit of my stomach when it came to making a paint color decision! It seemed so daunting! Can you relate?

What if I painted a room and did all that work and didn’t like it? Believe me, that happened more than I like to admit. I’d repaint the room… and sometimes repaint it again! Do you do that too?

I’ve been learning a lot about finding the perfect paint color over the years and I’m sharing it with you.

Now, I’m not nearly as fearful and I can say I almost enjoy the process of finding a perfect paint color! Here are 6 tips that helped me and I know they will help you too!


Even though most people find it hard to pick a paint color, it helps to have a little inspiration! It’s so important to answer these questions when looking for that perfect paint color…

  • What colors do you live with and love?
  • What are the predominant colors in your wardrobe?
  • Is there a color in a painting or piece of art you are drawn to?
  • How is the room used?
  • How much natural light does the room get?
  • What colors can I eliminate right now?
  • Do I want the wall color to be a supporting actor for the furniture in the room or the star?

I had used Simply White by Benjamin Moore on an upstairs bedroom at our StoneGable home and loved it. It was creamy and soft and read pretty neutral on our walls.

So when we moved into a somewhat open concept home, the Tanglewood House, I knew a soft white would work best. The house was painted a tan and it really closed the whole house in! This house needed a fresh and white coat of paint!

The paint color on the walls read so much whiter and “cleaner” than the paint chip. surprise. surprise!

Just goes to show you that a paint chip is not the end-all! And you should always test the paint on your walls before jumping in and painting a room!


creamy beige walls with white ceiling in the dining room

One of the best things you can do is to head to your paint store of choice and gather lots and lots of paint strips (or chips as they are sometimes called). Now here’s where you might get overwhelmed, but don’t let these little pieces of paper defeat you!

They will help you get an idea of what you like and what will and won’t work in the room you wish to paint.

Never hold more than one paint sample up against the wall you wish to paint or the fabric you wish to coordinate paint with. It’s just too overwhelming. Give each paint strip or chip their chance!

Here are some things to know about a paint strip…

  • the darkest color is the truest color
  • each paint strip is one color altered by tinting it or adding white
  • each paint color on a strip are all cool or all warm colors- it depends on the darkest color
  • they work well together
  • the colors on a paint strip have different undertones

It’s so important to know the true color you are working with and then see how light you want to go. Really this should save you so many headaches!


Now start sorting! Take your time and be thoughtful! Here’s how to sort…

  • Make two piles; one pile “possible candidates” and one pile “not working for me”. Look each paint chip over carefully! Sort and set the “not working for me” colors aside. Only work with the possible candidates!
  • Go through the possible candidates and choose one or two color like beige, white, blue, gray etc. that will work in the room you want to paint. Set all other colors aside.
  • Look at warm and cool undertones. Put the remaining paint strips in three groups; warm, cool and not sure.
  • Decide which undertone would work best for your room and set aside the rest
  • The pile you are left with will probably be very good candidates for your room.


A bit more about undertones.

Not all paint colors are created equal. Actually, none are. If you are choosing a color, let’s say blue, it may have a green undertone or a red or even a yellow or gray. And the undertone color may be very hard to see until you get home and paint your walls.

Our StoneGable home’s woodwork and cabinets and wainscoting and vertical planking are all painted Benjamin Moore Atrium White. It has the slightest pink tint to it making it soft and gentle and a tad warm.

The paint chip looks much darker than the paint really is.


How do I know the undertones of a paint color? I hold a paint chip up to a white piece of paper and really look at the color.

Often times you can see the undertone tint. Knowing the undertone will be such a big help in choosing the right paint color!

And if you know the undertone you will be able to tell if it is warm (warm colors mixed in to make the paint colors) or cool (cool colors mixed in to make the paint color).

You will be amazed at the undertones you can pick up if you compare that little chip to something that is white with no undertones!

Learning about undertones is one of the most important things you can do if you are choosing paint or furniture for that matter.

Here is a very informative post about WARM AND COOL COLORS.


One of the most important things to know when choosing paint colors is how the lighting in your home will affect the color of the paint on your walls, trim, and ceiling.

Lighting likes to play with wall color! Depending on the type of light in your room, your wall color can look very different than the color you thought you chose! 

Sunlight will show the purest color. BUT depending on the direction of the sun coming in your windows and the time of day even sunlight can skew the color… a lot! Incandescent light throws a yellow light that will intensify warm colors and dull cool ones.

Halogen light is white light and mimics sunlight and its effects. Fluorescent light is blue light. It intensifies cool colors and mutes warm ones. Soft white light can dull colors while full-spectrum light will intensify them!

All this to say, make sure you look at the paint samples painted on your wall at different times of the day and study them in different artificial light. Paint big swaths of color samples right on your walls.

And here’s a tip: I note the color of each paint sample I paint on my walls during different times of the day right on the wall. I use a pencil and write my thoughts. Live with the colors for a few days and record how the color looks and feels in the room!


creamy beige paint on a wall in the dining room

If you buy a custom color to paint your walls, make sure to buy more than enough! A custom color is hand tinted and even though different cans of it may look the same, it can be subtly different. It would be such a shame to paint a room to find out that the color varies in the room. YIKES!

I buy extra paint for every painting project. I always use more than I think!

And you will want extra paint for touch-ups! This is so so important! We have a very handy gadget called MY PAINT SAINT to help us with touch-ups.

Trust me on this. You will be thrilled you have this tool that makes touch-ups a breeze!


Okay, let’s say you painted your dining room green. You painted it a pretty bright green ages ago and you cannot decide what new color to paint it. You have followed all these suggestions but you are still stumped.

Here’s my best suggestion. Paint a wall in the dining room white. It may need a couple of coats. Now go back to the paint strips and paint samples and see how the “possible color” candidates look.

Sometimes it’s way too hard to choose a new paint color when the one on our walls is so bright or dark or gray or whatever.

Your eyes will tend to pick up the color and undertones of a bright or dominant wall color and your new choices might be swayed by what is on our walls.

To be safe you might have to paint over the old paint color with a pretty neutral white and go from there. Try Decorator’s White by Benjamin Moore.

Don’t let a little paint psyche you out!!!  I say “Be brave and go for it”! Don’t get stuck because you are too afraid to make a mistake!

Use these 6 tips and you can conquer your paint fears AND choose the perfect wall color!!!!


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  1. I once bought 3 cans of paint all at the same time, had them tinted, and each was a slight different colour even though the formula was the same. I now open all the cans and put them in a big pail and mix them up. They looked the same in the can but you could tell the difference on the walls. It was subtle but there. Now when they are mixed they are the same. Apparently expert painters do this.

  2. We are struggling with this very problem right now. We are having a painter in this summer, and it is really hard to decide what color to choose. In addition to the suggestions above, I also have to consider what color will appeal to a future buyer as we plan on selling next year. I too love the light neutrals, and the primary color of our kitchen, family room and foyer is a soft buttery yellow, but I know this might not appear to potential buyers. Our living room, and master bedroom are painted in a really light ivory/cream color and the color choice will be something light, but not identical to those rooms. I plan on rereading this post several times!

    1. Lyn, go soft white. I think it will make your home appear more open, light and crisp.

  3. Ann Martin says:

    Have you ever painted a small room a very dark neutral like charcoal. I was a guest in a house that had a few very small rooms painted a very dark red. They were like small jewels. The room I am considering is small w only a west facing sliding door and it would be a sewing room/guest room.
    any thoughts on having one very dark room in a home?

    1. That sounds gorgeous! I love using a dark color for a small room. Very dramatic!

  4. Cindy Gregson says:

    I’m wondering if you could explain about your suggestion to paint a wall white before choosing a final paint color for a room…..is using white more helpful than using a primer? My dining room is painted a beautiful deep red with white trim, but I’m ready for a change.

    1. Hi Cindy,
      A white wall will help you see the possible candidates paint samples truer. Often the color on our walls gets in the way of being able to see the paint samples, their undertones and how a new paint color will work in a room.
      Hope this helps.

  5. I love the wall hook in your first photo. Would you please share the source? It looks amazing in your entry! Thank you!

    1. Hi Jeri,

      The coat hook came from Pottery Barn. I have not seen it online for a while. But give a look!

  6. Thanks for all the great tips. Are you still going to do your weekly menus? Used so many of them and always looked forward to Monday!

    1. Hi Kathy,
      No, sorry! I have a small group of readers who like them but most of my readers are more interested in home decor.

  7. Beverly Powell says:

    Where can I find a hanging coat rack like the one in your foyer? I love it!

    1. Hi Beverly, The coat hook came from Pottery Barn. I have not seen it online for a while. But give a look!

    2. Kathy Menold says:

      I have a paint color question for you. We have a master bath with a pocket door from our bedroom .The new bath has med gray walls and tiles with a white sink and light oak vanity. Accent colors are blue and white. Our older bedroom is painted Navaho white which has too much yellow in it.The colors of accents and bedding are purple and sage.What color should I use for the walls. The bedroom has a northern exposure. Thankyou for any ideas.

  8. I bought 2 sample size paints at Home Depot, $3 each. Went to a Benjamin Moore retailer, sample was $9. While waiting for it to be mixed I saw the price of a gallon, over $70. I know, good quality, but I can get a nice paint, low voc for almost half that.

    1. Carol, I have used many different paint companies over the decades and Benjamin Moore is worth the cost. After all, you are getting a whole lot of surface covered and living with it for years, hopefully.
      I’ll spend the extra $9.00. I have never seen a $70.00 gallon of Ben Moore paint. I’d look at another store that carries it. I was just online and Ben Moore paint can be purchased for as low as $47.00 a gallon. And even their baseline product is good!

  9. Hi Yvonne!! I have a question if you could share; what color did you paint your bathroom? I’m loving all the colors you chose.

  10. Yvonne, you are my decorating hero! You always have such useful information to share! My husband and I just went through the process of picking paint colors for our new home and your tips are so helpful! We nailed it this time! You are such an inspiration to me!

    1. Oh YEA!!!! Picking paint is not for the faint of heart! But your hubby is a lesson that it can be “nailed” down!

  11. Hey Yvonne! Just found this post after linking up with Homestyle Gatherings and couldn’t resist clicking over to see your beautiful home and to score more paint color tips since it is perhaps the most popular topic on my blog even though I rarely have time to write on the subject. Thanks for so much helpful, concrete, realistic help for choosing. This is going to be so valuable for folks who get anxious about where to start! Peace to you right where you are, friend. xox

    1. Michele, thanks so much for your lovely comment. I LOVE your blog!!!!!!

  12. Linda Stevens says:

    Thanks for the tips on picking the right paint color ! For me, this has been the hardest of all home improvement projects. I believe I can now make a more confident decision on color.

    1. I so agree, Linda! Don’t tell anyone but I have plans to put white board and batten on the bottom half of my powder room with a chair rail and paper the top part in a pretty blue and white floral with lots of white space. And then add crown molding! YUM, right? But, shhhh! It’s a secret!

  13. Your home is lovely and I have been inspired by your ideas and suggestions weekly. Th is the first time that I noticed the wall hanging saying, I am a daughter of the king…I am His. Would you please share with me where you found it? Thank you so much.

  14. Hello Yvonne,
    May I ask where you purchased your beautiful dining room rug? Love it so much! Thank you.

    1. Hi Kathy, I found this rug at Ballard Designs. It’s an indoor/outdoor rug so spills clean up easily1!

  15. I have looked at your home on here at least 100 times, trying to decide if the Sonnet will work in my home. Your home looks so pretty and I love it! We currently have a beige-y trim and a “muddy” dark taupe on the walls (purchased that way!). We have an open floor plan that gets East, North, and West light throughout the day. Like you, we have right much molding and plan to paint it white. Hubby and my daughter think we should paint the walls and trim the same color of white, using different sheens. What do you think?

    1. Hi Bonnie, here’s my take on an open concept. If it is very open go for white! You really need a very plain background to not get in the way of the rest of your furnishings especially if you have a vaulted or cathedral ceiling. Sonnet will probably work but it does have a bit of color in it. If I had a truly open concept home with high ceilings I’d paint the walls white. And the woodwork? White too! Please remember this is just my opinion!

  16. Dawn Alexander says:

    I also love the rug in your dining room. I looked on Ballard’s Design website but couldn’t find the rug. Did you purchase the rug recently or have you had it awhile?

  17. It’s really hard to find a perfect color for walls. No one can’t wants to go wrong with it and took of it after it’s been installed.

  18. Very interesting and informative. I’ll be picking a paint color soon for my living room. Probably going from green that I’ve had for 27 years to a warm white. Also, I would like to see some posts on Xmas table decorating for round tables. I have a 60” round table with 2 leaves. I’m sure there must be other people out there with them also. Thanks again for all your insightful tips!?

  19. mary a delaney says:

    Tryed link for My Paint Saint, said “no webb”. How do I find this item? Also, where did you purchase your drop cloths in the basket? Never seen these “colors, stripes”. Thank you. Love your post.

  20. Raylene DeSanto says:

    Yvonne, can you tell me where I might find that adorable hanging coat rack you show just inside your front door? It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Raylene, the vertical coat rack came from The Pottery Barn. Hope this helps.

  21. I really enjoyed this post. I am color stultified and my dear husband leaves dirty hand prints on doors and walls constantly. Your post gives me hope that we can repaint.

    1. Lori, I always use flat paint on my walls because they can be touched up without seeing where it has been repainted. Other finishes on a wall do not touch up well.

  22. My father recently bought a commercial building in our small town, and he’s planning to have the paint completely redone. However, he isn’t sure what color to pick. I’m glad that you suggested that we paint big swaths of color in the walls to see how the paint looks like in sunlight and artificial light. I’ll relay this information to my father and also to the commercial interior painting service professional he will hire. Thanks, Yvonne!

  23. Nancy Olmsted says:

    After hearing you talk about Benjamin Moore Sonnet on the Decorating Tips and Tricks podcast, I decided to try it for my own home. I love it! It can read as creamy white or a very light taupe color depending on the lighting. Honestly, I think it goes with any decor colors in any room. I did find that only using the Benjamin Moore version of this color is the best. We had Sonnet color matched with another paint brand for a rental house we own, and the results were not as rich and lovely as the Benjamin Moore version. Thanks for helping me find my favorite paint color of all time! Also, I so miss hearing you on the podcast. You always had such great advice on decorating and entertaining and creating a gracious home. Plus, your positive and christian outlook was so uplifting for me. Any thoughts on going back to the podcast, or perhaps starting your own?

    1. Hi Nancy, Sonnet is an amazing wall color! I’m so glad you like it! As far as the podcast, I have no plans of returning full time but would be willing to be a guest if invited back.

  24. Can you share where you found your wall coat rack? I love it!

  25. Finally, someone else who uses Benjamin Moore’s Atrium White! I love that color. I have painted our entire home with it. I started using this color after a kitchen renovation. Our cabinets were a dark ivory, distressed and with brown glazing. Whenever I placed a more yellow white next to the cabinets, all the texture and glazing disappeared in the cabinets. The Atrium White just brought out all the brown, glazing and texture within the ivory cabinets. I love the softness of that particular white. I continued it throughout the house.

    1. I’ve used Atrium White for over 25 years. It is such a pretty soft, warm white.

  26. As soon as I feel safe from Covid, I plan on some painting in my home. By the way, my sister used a service offered by Sherwin William’s to choose a paint color. For a fee, a color specialist comes to the home to help you narrow down a color. The fee is reimbursed if you buy their paint. So for those who are truly afraid or can’t tell colors one from another, this is a great service.

    1. Smart business plan! Painting a home is a big project!!! You go, girl!

  27. Bernadette M Mayer says:

    I would love tips more specific to choosing paint COLORS, not just neutrals, please.

  28. JULIA WOODARD says:

    Did you try Barely Beige before you chose Sonnet?
    Thank you!

    1. No, Sonnet was perfect for our home! Barley Beige looks quite a bit warmer with yellow undertones. Sonnet is just a tiny bit warm with no yellow undertones.

  29. Hi, I have been reading your posts and enjoying it!
    I’m just a little confused. What is the color white in your living room and dining room. Is the color Atrium white or decorators white, by Benjamin Moore?
    I moved into a high-rise 10 years ago. I get a lot of light in the morning and indirect light in the afternoon. My foyer, living room and dining room is all opened. I painted it all linen white by Benjamin Moore, so tired of it. My colors are creams, beiges and whites, my sofa is a light linen color. I’m in the middle of re-decorating I bought a new sofa, I still need 2 chairs, a TV credenza and a rug. Lots to do.
    Thank you for sharing!!!

    1. Hi Chris, in this post I featured two of our homes. Our current home Tanglewood is painted Simply White by Benjamin Moore. Our StoneGable home in this post is painted Sonnett and the trim is Atrium White. Both by Benjamin Moore. Hope this helps.

  30. I totally agree – I find that picking out paint is stressful. I know people say “it’s just paint” but when you are hiring a painter to come in to do the entire interior you want to make it right, and not pay for something you regret. I love the Benjamin Moore paint colors you use, but in our area all they push is Sherwin Williams at a higher price. I went with a soft creamy yellow in our foyer, kitchen, country dining room and family room. The house tends to be a little dark and we felt the soft yellow would brighten it up without being too much in your face. Most of the time it feels like a rich creamy white, but when the daylight changes so does the color. The rest of the house – living room, bedrooms and even bathrooms are creamy ivory so it does flow well without too many color changes. I guess with all that is going on in our world these days selecting a paint color seems to be trivial.

    1. I agree. When I was a lot younger I did not mind painting but now I totally agree!

  31. Hello Yvonne,
    Thanks for sharing this brilliant advice. I now feel inspired to paint some walls – make that all the walls – in my house next summer

  32. I have seen beautiful rooms in magazines, such as Architectural Digest or Elle Decor with trim matching the walls. The rooms are painted in colors that are not white
    i.e. brown, teal, green. When does a decorator decide that the trim should not be white but blend into the room color?

    1. My best advice, Gail is to stick to white trim. It is classic and always beautiful.

  33. Thanks for the information regarding picking the right color to paint a room. Excellent advice…

  34. Thanks for the great tips/ideas on how to choose the right paint colors. Very helpful. I needed this.

  35. Diane vasti says:

    Can you please link your wall mounted coat rack? It is just what I am looking for. Thank you.

  36. Where did you purchase the rug in your living room? I love it!

  37. Deb Waites says:

    What trim color did you use with the Simply White in Tanglewood home?? Also, have a bead board cieling- would you paint it what color and same as trim?? Thxs

    1. All the trim and walls are Simply White. Yes, I probably would paint the ceiling the same color as the trim. However,if you want to show of the ceiling choose a light but different color.

      1. Deb Waites says:

        Thxs so much! Also, If I have white subway tile in bathroom with grey grout- is there a grey you could recommend for walls and grout color for light grey floors on floor?? Thank you!

        1. It’s hard to recommend something as important as grout when I can’t see it. I recommend taking a sample of your floors to where you are getting the grout and pick it out there. Think about undertones.

          1. Deb Waites says:

            Do you have a favorite get for walls??

          2. Our walls are Simply White by Benjamin Moore. Hope this helps.