How to Choose Paint Colors

This Post May Contain Affiliate Links. Please Read Our Disclosure Policy
This post is sponsored by Sherwin-Williams®. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Paint colors and color selection always seem to be of interest. Anytime I post a picture of a room on Instagram, someone seems to ask, “What paint color is that?” I think this happens for a couple of reasons.

First, paint color makes a big impact in a room. Because the paint usually covers a larger surface, it influences how a room looks and feels. Secondly, choosing a paint color may seem like a daunting task. With so many colors to pick from, it is a big decision and can quickly be overwhelming.

How to Choose Paint Colors - Tips and Tricks #paint #swcolorlove #sherwinwilliams #oneroomchallenge

In today’s post, I’m going to walk you through how to choose paint colors. Since I’m working on a few big projects in my home, now seemed like the perfect time to share my process.

As you may know, I’m redecorating my master bedroom. And I just went through this entire paint selection process. As I did this, I made notes so that I could tell you what I did step-by-step and share tips and tricks that helped me.

Let’s get started!

How to Choose Paint Colors - Tips and Tricks #paint #swcolorlove #sherwinwilliams #oneroomchallenge

How to Choose Paint Colors:

1. Find Inspiration

Anytime I work on a new space, there’s usually some sort of inspiration. For example, last fall I painted my living room with Sherwin-Williams Agreeable Gray SW 7029. My inspiration for that color choice was two-fold.

I wanted a neutral backdrop that would work with seasonal decor. (With Christmas on the horizon, I was especially thinking about that.)

Plus, I had recently purchased two emerald green velvet chairs. These chairs are statement pieces, so I wanted a wall color that would allow them to shine. After some testing and researching, I ended up with Agreeable Gray.

For my master bedroom, I’ve derived my inspiration from a vintage paint-by-number painting. I love the colors in it, so I figured it might lead me to the right color for the room, and that’s exactly what happened.

How to Choose Paint Colors - Tips and Tricks #paint #swcolorlove #sherwinwilliams #oneroomchallenge #masterbedroom #bayberryhouse

2. Color Match

Once you’ve found your inspiration, you’re ready to pick paint to match. One of my new favorite tools for doing this is the Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap® Visualizer.

The ColorSnap Visualizer is an online tool that helps you turn any image into a palette of paint. You can upload an image or enter a website URL and the tool will provide a palette of colors based on your inspiration image.

So that’s exactly what I did. I used my phone to take a picture of the paint-by-number painting, uploaded it into the ColorSnap Visualizer, and received this beautiful palette.

In an instant, I was presented with colors that I loved: Icelandic SW 6526, Tigereye SW 6362, Caviar SW 6990, and Anonymous SW 7046.

How to Choose Paint Colors - Tips and Tricks #paint #swcolorlove #sherwinwilliams #oneroomchallenge

There’s also an option in the ColorSnap Visualizer that allows you to “edit colors.” This gives you five additional colors for your palette. From there, you can drag and drop colors to find the perfect sampling for your space.

Because my particular inspiration painting has a wide variety of colors, I zoomed in on a few areas to pick up some of the green and orange colors. Doing this gave me a few more gems, including Roycroft Bottle Green SW 2847, Chartreuse SW 0073, and Harvest Gold SW 2858.

How to Choose Paint Colors - Tips and Tricks #paint #swcolorlove #sherwinwilliams #oneroomchallenge

3. Look at the Color Fan Deck

Once I had narrowed down the colors for my bedroom, I turned to my color fan deck and in-store swatches to see the colors “in real life.” As great as technology is, colors can vary on your computer screen, so I always take a look at paint swatches.

If you do a lot of painting, it can be super helpful to have a fan deck of all the colors at home. However, you can also head to your neighborhood Sherwin-Williams store to peruse their giant wall of paint swatches.

How to Choose Paint Colors - Tips and Tricks #paint #swcolorlove #sherwinwilliams #oneroomchallenge

Pull out all of your paint swatches and look at them together. You’ll want to compare them to your inspiration as well as any textiles you plan to have in your space. Here, you can see an upholstery sample for my bed plus fabric for my curtains.

How to Choose Paint Colors - Tips and Tricks #paint #swcolorlove #sherwinwilliams #oneroomchallenge

How to Choose Paint Colors - Tips and Tricks #paint #swcolorlove #sherwinwilliams #oneroomchallenge

I also started to assemble a virtual design board where I included a potential rug, light, furniture, and other furnishings for the space. Even though colors can be misleading on a computer screen, this gives a general idea of how the paint colors will work with the whole look.

3. Purchase Paint Samples

Once you have a solid idea of your paint color selection, it’s time to sample. I like to pare down my selections to one or two colors before I get to this stage. I know I can get overwhelmed by too many choices, so testing a limited number of colors works best for me.

Sherwin-Williams Color to Go®samples are designed for this purpose. You can sample any of their over 1,500 colors.

I’ve found that sampling colors in my own home is essential. Falling in love with a paint color you see in a photo or online doesn’t mean you will be able to achieve the same look in your space with that color.

How to Choose Paint Colors - Tips and Tricks #paint #swcolorlove #sherwinwilliams #oneroomchallenge

How to Choose Paint Colors - Tips and Tricks #paint #swcolorlove #sherwinwilliams #oneroomchallenge

The furnishings, floor color, ceiling height, amount of natural light in your space, and direction your home faces all impact how a color looks in your room. In addition, a lot of professional photos online are the result of a filter or color correction, meaning you can never be sure of the color. That’s why this paint sampling step is so important. You definitely want to see how a particular color is going to look in YOUR space.

Because of my research, plans for the master bedroom, and use of the ColorSnap Visualizer tool, I decided to sample two colors: Anew Gray SW 7030 on my molding and board and batten and Icelandic on the walls.

4. Sample Paints on Your Walls

With your samples purchased, you’re ready to apply them. You can do this one of two ways: directly paint your walls or paint pieces of paper, poster board, or foam board.

I prefer to sample directly on the surfaces I’ll be painting. However, if you don’t want big swatches of different colors on your surfaces, using paper or poster/foam board can be a good alternative.

How to Choose Paint Colors - Tips and Tricks #paint #swcolorlove #sherwinwilliams #oneroomchallenge

As I mentioned above, for me this sampling step is crucial. While paint swatches are amazing for sourcing, a color can look very different on your walls than it does on a 2×2-inch square.

I also recommend trying the sample colors in a few areas of the room. See how it looks next to your molding or how it looks in a darker area of the room versus a wall opposite a window. You’ll also want to see what the color looks during the day with sunlight and what it looks like at night. It’s amazing how light changes the appearance of colors.

Once I had my sample colors on the wall, I noticed two things. First, Anew Gray was an instant winner for me. It was beautifully saturated but still light. Although I like to incorporate color into my home, I still prefer lighter colored rooms.

How to Choose Paint Colors - Tips and Tricks #paint #swcolorlove #sherwinwilliams #oneroomchallenge

How to Choose Paint Colors - Tips and Tricks #paint #swcolorlove #sherwinwilliams #oneroomchallenge

The second thing I noticed was that Icelandic wasn’t the color for me. Bummer. It seemed too baby blue. It gave the room more of a beach vibe, which wasn’t what I was after.

So I pulled out my color fan deck and found two other options I’m going to try: Lullaby SW 9136 and North Star SW SW6246. Both seem to be a bit more subtle, almost a dirty blue. I’m thinking that one will be a much better pairing with Anew Gray. One of these colors worked beautitfully, so you’ll have to follow along with the makeover to see which one is the winner!

As you can see, this step is important. I assumed my initial color choices would be a beautiful combination, but once they were on the walls, the pairing just didn’t work for me.

5. Paint

With your colors selected, you’re now ready to paint! Grab your tools, cover your surfaces, and get that paint on.

These are the Sherwin-Williams products I will be using for my Master Bedroom:

  • Sherwin-Williams Emerald®Interior : Wall Paint (Satin)
  • Sherwin-Williams Emerald®Urethane Trim Enamel : Trim Paint (Typically semi-gloss, but for this project, I’m trying satin.)

How to Choose Paint Colors - Tips and Tricks #paint #swcolorlove #sherwinwilliams #oneroomchallenge

While these are my favorites, Sherwin-Williams has a variety of options to suit your preferences and budget. And the staff is incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. If you’re confused about which product is best for you and your project, just ask for their advice.

And that, my friends, is how to choose paint colors. Or at least how I choose paint colors.

I realize this may seem time-consuming, but it’s actually a pretty simple process that I highly recommend. I speak from experience. It is no fun to paint an entire room only to realize you don’t like the color or it’s not right for the space.

There’s no science to choosing paint colors, but I hope that reading about my process helps you the next time you tackle a paint project in your home.

Happy Painting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Using the ColorSnap Visualizer with an inspiration piece is a great tool that I completely forgot about. I have a pillow I need to try it with, happy you wrote this!

  2. Just found your site and l
    LOVE it! Question though, you had a gorgeous shade of blue (which I intend on using in our condo at the beach) in your hallway and repainted to a pale shade of gray.Don’t get me wrong it is lovely just wondered why you switched.

    1. Thank you so much! I updated the entryway with new built-ins and the colors just didn’t work together. I was hoping they would, but it just didn’t work out.

      xo Michael

  3. The best ideas are always based on simplicity!
    We all have a favorite picture. I picked up an original water color (24×36 after the reframe) at a thrift store which has lovely muted colors of a woodland scene. I’ve had it in my bedroom, dining room, living room and now in a guest room. When the right paint colors applied throughout the house, your favorite pictures can move from room to room and highlight the paint colors. Giving you a fresh look through artwork without having to repaint.

    by using a pallet of HGTV colors most complimentary to your favorite art work throughout your home can make curtains, painting, bedding, chairs, usable everywhere.

  4. Michael, I truly enjoy your blog and I love the simplicity in your decorating. You inspire me !! I’ve been in quite a slump since all that’s been going on in our world today. I have over 30 years experience in the field and recently retired color consultant from a Paint and decorating center in southern Indiana . Moved to east central Indiana to be closer to grand kids and have a new home to decorate thanks for the pick me up! I truly enjoy your posts.

  5. Your charm really is inspiring. I’m currently captivated by this year’s color choice, a clay color called cavern? For me it has the right saturation and I like it with black trim. I’ve brought things with me into our local store before but now plan to bring a painting to focus in on a wider palette’s details with more guidance as you’ve demonstrated. Color is so intoxicating! I need to keep my head together next time I tackle a painting project.

  6. Very helpful! It’s impossible for me to tell how a room will look from a small paint chip at the store. Years ago, I wanted a sunny yellow for a bedroom and the color consultant at the paint store handed me a chip that was brownish-yellow. I don’t think they had the sample sizes way back then. When I expressed doubt, she assured me she had used the same color and it would turn out a sunny yellow. I trusted her and she was absolutely on target. I’ll never choose from a paint chip again!

  7. This post extremely helpful to me! Here I am on year 2 trying to choose a neutral for all common areas of my 1200 sf home. Tried a gray on a long wall, love it, but not ok for all common areas.

    Have narrowed it down to white, yep, white … the white in my DR curtains that I finally hung last Fall. It’s easy for me to pick colors for someone else’s home…not easy for my home…torture! 😂 Now to figure out what white that is!

  8. i cannot wait to see this room!! that painting is literally the best. we once had a dining room painted sw harvest gold and it was GORGEOUS. i kinda miss that room. thanks for the happy memory <3