Why You Should Choose Wall Color Last

It’s fun to think about changing your space quickly with a new coat of paint.  But if you rush to the store for a few gallons of glorious color before you consider these things, you will might wish you’d read this first.  

Paint is the most customized home décor product  you will be able to find on the market today!  Paint can be made to be any color.  That cannot be said of carpets, fabrics, flooring, tile, etc.   Those items are usually more expensive and less flexible than paint color, and the perfect paint color can bring all those differing pieces and colors together for a beautiful result.  But you have to get all the players together first, and then choose the paint color last!

It might seem like fun, but to save time and money, choose your paint color LAST! read on

We tend to look at our spaces as a collection of furniture and other items but Color Experts know to look at rooms as a collection of colors.  Everything has a color, every color, even all of the 9,000 or so different Whites you can choose has an undertone of color—something that gives it a unique signature that will work or not work in your room.  Here’s a quote from Heidi Cornelius, owner of The Color Gallery, in Antigo, Wisconsin  “all the colors are invited to the party, they just can fight with any other or try to change the others.”  Because they will, so you have to be careful about your color guest list. 

Consider these things when choosing wall color:

  • The Light: Color isLight—think about it: at night do you see the beautiful colors that during the day are vibrant and alive? The color is still there, other animals see what emanates from objects but our eyes don’t see color when the light goes dim.  Color we see is based on the Light bouncing around.
    • Lighting changes during the day and colors will appear different in the morning light than they will in the evening glow of sunset or lamplight. 
    • Rooms with a Northern exposure will have different light and need different colors (add warmth with yellow undertones–but TEST them so they don’t turn green) than rooms with a Southern or Western facing windows (might need to balance the light with the wall color to cool it down).
    • Colors on items change differently under different lighting and depending on what they are next to.   “Substrates,” the base material onto which color is applied, hold and reflect colors differently, so things that match under curly fluorescent lighting might clash miserably under incandescent or even in a different room in your home, due to the sunlight of a Northern exposure or a Western facing room or even at different times of day.
  • All of the other things in the room – even the view through windows and doors
    • Everything has a color: subtle undertones can fight with each other, for instance the orange of a oak floor will look “just wrong” if the beige you choose for the walls has a pink undertone.
    • Choose all the other items first because you are limited by the colors in fabrics, furnishings, hardwoods, and other items. 
    • Get them all together in the space they will be, in the lighting they will be in, and at the time of day you will be enjoying them.  Hold the pieces in the orientation they will be:  vertical if it’s a wall color or window treatment, horizontal if it’s a flooring piece or seating upholstery and hold them ALL together to see how the colors work together.
  • The people and the purpose of the room
    • From a Feng Shui standpoint, these are the most important.  I consider the people, their specific Feng Shui energy and the Primary Purpose of the Room, whether sleeping, eating, resting, or connecting, all these purposes are enlivened by different colors.  For more on that, check out  my posts on Feng Shui Colors
    • What is your favourite colour? Can you live with it or a version of it? I guarantee it will make you happy!  Paint it somewhere, in a drawer you see every day, in your powder room, or closet (be careful about blue and green in a closet—it could make you look palid or ill—give it a pink undertone). Live with a little in a pillow or lamp and see how you just want to live with more.
    • What is the primary purpose of the room?  For instance in a kitchen:  why you might not want to use blue or black — dowses the fire of digestion.  Dining room? Why you might not want to use too much red–can cause arguments and hypertension–just a little goes a long way!  Bedrooms? What will blue or green do for your relationships–cool them off.  Flesh tones will warm and nourish you–all the way from palest yellow to deepest cocoa, rich burgundy or gold?  See Feng Shui Colors
  • The mood you want to set
    • How can you calm a space with colors, make it more intimate just with color? Spaces can be calmed with pale colors or deep colors, so that doesn’t help.  Blue and greens are independent colors, they can be calming as in a spa setting but will not be the best for connecting with others—that’s why they are restful, they take us outside ourselves into the sky and forest for healing.   Colors that are ‘complex’ muted colors, not mixed with white –which invigorates a space—would be more calming.  The best way to calm spaces is to remove the visual clutter, too many colors, too much contrast will enliven a space. 
  • Size and shape of the room:
    •  did you know color can change the perception to make an oddly shaped room seem more pleasant and balanced,  a low ceiling seem high,  make a small room feel larger and more cozy at the same time,  a long narrow hallways seem wider and more?  More about this in another post.
  • Create whole-house harmony with color
    • A very important piece for a well-balanced life
    • Tip:  try the ‘fabric
      Feng Shui Colors: inspiration in fabric
      The colors of a fabric can help harmonize a home's color scheme.

      ’ test.  Many fabrics have lots of colors in their design.  You can use this to your benefit.  For instance this pillow has warm beige, beautiful restful aqua, rich magenta.  If you love these colors, consider changing it up in various rooms, one room will have the warm beige on its walls, another will have a variation of the soft aqua (a bit darker or lighter but one that the cushion will look great with), and another will have an accent of rich magenta on the walls.  Each room will be very different, but your whole space will work together.

Not to add pressure, but our homes and offices are our partners in creating our joyful life and when your spaces are beautiful, you don’t have to work so hard at being healthy, wealthy and happy.    That said, why not get it right?  Call a color expert to come to your home, or call me and I will be happy to help you as best I can!