By now, we have all been staring at our walls for longer than is normal or even advisable

No doubt you have contemplated painting or, at this point, completely changing your whole décor. If you want to ease in to change, paint is step one. Choosing a paint color for your walls can feel like a big decision. Design experts tell you that painting your walls is the biggest decorating bang for your buck. And that is true. But for some reason that also adds enormous pressure to get that ‘big bang’ right the first time. It’s not so cost effective, if you hate the result and have to do it again.


A few tricks to choosing paint color

The first is to gray out hues — dull them down for your walls

That bright teal accent pillow from your daughter’s bedroom that you are trying to color match for her walls is going to magnify in intensity when you put that exact color on four walls. It will be too much.

Find your exact match on the color wheel at your paint store and go all the way to the top where the lightest version is represented. Use that lightest version and ask the paint store to shade it by twenty-five percent. If that sounds too complicated, find the neutrals section of the paint deck. These are decorator go-to colors because that have the gray built right in. You should be able to find a color that coordinates perfectly with your intense teal among this set of neutrals.


Exact match

Lightest hue up the card from Cooled Blue

Grayed-out version in Neutrals/Whites








The key is to coordinate, not match, your deep hue with a lighter, grayed out version. Notice that these ‘neutrals’ are not just beiges.


Speaking of beige…

That seems to be a catch-all ‘color’ people say they want when what they really want is something neutral that “goes with everything”. Beige can come out peach, pink or even lavender, depending on the undertones. Stick with the gray-it-out mantra.

Be sure your beige is more “greige”, in that it has a more brown/gray base than a brown/red or brown/orange. Consider that gray alone, green and even gray-blues can be pleasing neutral wall colors.


An “old school” beige that can look pink

Realtor-favorite neutral

A good “greige” option









Neutral colors have their place (prepping a home for sale) but if you are staying put for a while, why not live with a color you love?

(Except red.  It’s hard to live peacefully in a red room.) Go ahead and paint your dining room black. Anything you hang on the walls will pop against a black wall. Cozy up your office with a deep peacock or navy blue.

If the thought of committing to that much color is overwhelming, consider painting your biggest piece of furniture in that room a deep, rich hue. Painting bookshelves is a wonderful way to test the water with an intense color.

Cool tones (greens, blues, purples, grays and even some browns) are easier to live with in intensity than the warmer yellows, oranges and reds. That’s not to say that those warm colors aren’t options. Professionals usually temper warm hues with a lot of white or even black furnishings and accents to keep those colors in check.


Be neutral if you must. Be bold when you can.

If you still can’t decide, a color consultation with a professional is the best money you’ll spend to get it right.


Paint chips courtesy of Sherwin Williams



Kristen Enwright is an interior designer and owner of Designer’s Eye.  She has been a ‘local’ for over 30 years and enjoys the many parks and good eateries that have grown up around her here.  Kristen has specialized in residential design for the past eleven years.  You can see a collection of her design projects at





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