Here is the approach I use with my interior design clients to make this process easier and more fool-proof.
First,I caution clients that just because a certain color may be your favorite, it may not look good all over your house. A neutral with a hint of a favorite color can be a smart starting place.
Another good starting place is to figure out if you prefer warm (yellows, oranges and reds) or cool colors (blues, greens). Most people gravitate toward one over the other, but you certainly can use both in a home. I like to find a main color first, especially if the design is an open concept.
SAMPLE, SAMPLE, SAMPLE
The number one rule in selecting color is to get samples and paint them on a large poster boards. You don’t want to paint the sample paint on your walls because it is a lesser quality and is not good to have under your new paint coat – believe me I did this years ago in my own home and it really affects the paint job. It is so important to look at the colors in your space on a sunny day, cloudy day and at night. This will help your decision and its much cheaper in the long rung than buying full gallons of your first choice just to discover it looks horrible in your space.
The amount and direction of natural light affects wall color. Eastern exposure will add a greenish tint, while southern exposure is more yellow, whitish which can brighten or wash colors out. Western light is more orange, and northern light tends to be more grey which neutralizes and cools everything.
With the variety of light bulbs on the market today, it can get confusing what to use and how it can affect the overall look of your home.
Incandescent bulbs will bring out the yellow tones, while fluorescent bulbs will generally bring out the cool tones. However, you can now buy warmer rated CFL’s. LED’s can cast a very cool white light but can also be purchased with a warmer rating.
Every color has a “Light Reflectance Value” (LRV) which is a rating from 0% (absolute black) to 100% (pure reflective white). Similar to a gray scale, the LRV indicates how much light is absorbed or reflected by a color. Many paint samples will list an LRV number. This becomes very helpful when selecting several colors that will been seen together , like in an open concept. If you choose colors that have very different LRV ratings, the result will be jarring as the colors will fight for attention. Staying within 7 or so points in the LRV, you can use different hues without creating a disturbing contrast.
These aspects can help you avoid costly mistakes and guide you toward a color choice that you can be happy with for many years.