Almost every homeowner has been there. You stand in your yard staring at your biggest financial investment and think, “What if it was this color?” Or maybe you survey your living room imagining a brighter, cleaner space. Painting your house is a project that, when done right, you’ll never regret. A new coat of color will improve your home’s appearance, boost its value, and fill you with pride every time you pull in the driveway. We start these projects with high hopes and best intentions, but the problem is, picking the right paint color for your home isn’t easy. And if you choose wrong, you’ll be left with a house that falls flat of expectations. No one wants to waste time, money, or effort on something as important as painting their house. Sifting through thousands of possible colors is overwhelming, but we’re offering expert advice to pin down the right paint color for your home’s new look.
The Science of Color
Did you know that the human eye is capable of distinguishing about 7 million different colors? That’s a whole lot of color, and no one has time to consider 7 million paint samples when trying to pick the right paint color for their home. So instead of overwhelming yourself with options, it’s best to start with the basics. Take it all the way back to elementary school art class and the color wheel.
A color wheel is a circle of colors that represents how different colors relate to each other. By understanding how a color wheel works, you can see how colors contrast with each other and whether they’re analogous or complementary. You can compare cool colors with warm colors and see which colors go well together and which pairings you definitely want to avoid.
What’s an Accent Color?
When painting your house, an accent color is used for emphasis or contrast. They can be bold and vivid, or you can choose a neutral accent color. What you decide depends on what you’re painting and what kind of feel you want for that space.
If you’re painting your kitchen, for example, and want the room to be bright and cheery, choose an accent color like yellow, orange, or turquoise (whatever goes with your color scheme). You won’t paint your entire wall this color, but you’ll use it in small doses.
When choosing paint colors for the exterior of your home, consider a neutral accent color. If you decide to paint your house dark brown, for example, consider a tan accent color for your trim, porch railing, or other exterior home features.
What’s a Base Color?
Your base color should be a color that expresses your personal style and the kind of environment you want to inhabit. If your wardrobe is full of bright colors and patterns, why not extend that vibrancy to your walls? If you want a space to feel classic or sophisticated, go with a neutral base color that can pair easily with accent colors.
You should also consider the power that the right paint color has on the size of a space. Dark colors, for example, absorb light and can make a small room look even smaller. Soft tones of brighter colors, like blues and greens, can give the illusion of more space and an inviting ambiance.
Exploring Color Schemes
When picking paint colors, use a basic color wheel as a starting point. You can use the wheel to create a color scheme that is guaranteed to work well.
First, decide if you want your house to have cool colors (blues, greens, and purples) or warm colors (oranges, yellows, reds). To help you decide, look around the room or the exterior of your house (depending on what you’re painting) and pick out what colors already exist. If you have a blue couch, for example, you want a color scheme that will flow with that blue fabric.
To make your color scheme, explore the four main different types.
- Monochromatic Colors: A monochromatic color scheme is usually recommended for the exterior of a home or if you want a sleek, sophisticated look in a particular room. It’s all about using one color in different shades.
- Analogous Colors: This is a type of middle ground between monochromatic and color explosion. An analogous color scheme involves picking two or three colors that are side by side on the color wheel. Pick which colors you want to be your majority, secondary, and accent colors.
- Complementary Colors: A color scheme using complementary colors is high energy and high contrast. It uses two colors from opposite sides of the color wheel (blue with orange, purple with yellow). You can use the two colors in equal amounts, favor one over the other, or use them both as accents over a neutral background.
- Triad Colors: While complementary colors are high in contrast, a triad color scheme adds balance by using three colors evenly spaced on the color wheel. Choose one color as your main color and use the others as accents.
Types of Paint
Finally, once you pick the right paint color for your home, it’s time to talk about types of paint. For this, we’ll split up projects into two categories: exterior and interior.
Exterior Paint Types
When painting the outside of your house, you have two main types of paint to choose from. Water-based latex paint and oil-based paint
Latex paint is a generic term used for all paint that is not oil-based. They’re the new kids on the block in terms of paint technology, but there have been great improvements in water-based paint formulas. These paints are typically resistant to mold and mildew and have low VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions. They also have a shorter dry time and allow for easier clean up.
In decades past, oil-based paint was always a contractor’s go-to exterior paint. Today, however, water-based paint has mostly caught up in terms of finish and durability. Still, oil-based paint will go on smoother than a water-based paint, and it typically covers an area with fewer coats. It’s also more likely to crack, peel, and yellow over time. You’ll need to talk to your painting contractor about which type of paint they usually use and what they recommend for your home.
Interior Paint Types
If your painting project takes you inside your home, you need to choose a paint finish. This refers to the glossiness of the paint and what it’ll look like when it’s dry. The paint industry has split it up into a few main types of interior paint finishes.
- Flat: Flat finish has no shine at all. It’s the most popular choice for interior walls and ceilings as it’s good at hiding bumps, cracks, and other imperfections.
- Flat enamel (matte): This paint finish is also flat, but it’s different that the traditional flat finish. When it dries, it forms a slight film on the surface to give a smooth look. It’s durable and is easy to clean.
- Eggshell: Eggshell has a slight sheen, much like an egg. It’s also easy to clean and is a good choice for living and dining rooms.
- Satin: A satin finish is a step up in sheen and is most often used for trim, doors, and ceilings. It works well for accent colors.
- Semi-Gloss: Semi-gloss has a noticeable shine. It’s best used on smooth walls as it can highlight imperfections when it reflects the light.
- Glossy: Most often used for accents like cabinets or furniture, this type of paint finish is one step away from being reflective. It’s used in formal and contemporary settings.
When it comes down to painting your house, there are countless options. It can feel overwhelming, but having the right contractor will make a big difference. Painting contractors have seen it all when it comes to interior and exterior paint colors. They can help you pick the right paint color that will match your style, personality, and make your house look its best.
Contact Brad McDonnell Painting and Decorating to start planning your next home painting project.