Choosing the Right Paint Color for Your New Home

Danny Seo, lifestyle expert, author and host of NBC TV's Naturally, Danny Seo shares his tips to help you create a healthy and happy home.

kitchen table
Photo Credit: Jennifer Levy

When it comes to decorating, I think one of the hardest decisions to make is choosing what paint colors to put on your walls. The process is overwhelming: There’s a spectrum of colors at the store and it’s nearly impossible to imagine if “Cypress Forest” or “Himalayan Pink” will look fab or drab in your home. This might be why the most popular paint colors fall into the white spectrum. It’s safe and non-polarizing. It’s also boring. Color, on the other hand, can transform rooms in exciting ways. It can lift your mood, make your furniture and decorative pieces pop and even make you look your very best. Here are my secrets to picking the perfect paints.

Skip the Chips

Instead of working with paint chips, I like to pick colors from a totally different palette. I’ll look right at my own wardrobe, for example, and pull out colorful t-shirts that look great on me. If there’s a violet t-shirt that’s the absolute perfect shade of purple, I bring it to the paint store where they can color match it right on the spot. The theory behind this is totally narcissistic: If you look great wearing that color, imagine how amazing you’ll look in that room.

Look to Mother Nature

Okay, you love blue hydrangeas but that shade you chose from the paint chip wall looks... off? Color can look natural or artificial and the naked eye may have a hard time finding that perfect shade. Benjamin Moore’s “Color Capture” app makes it foolproof. You literally just point and shoot at whatever you love in nature (a flower, a leaf, the sky) and voila! It tells you the exact paint name and number it matches.

Virtually Paint Your Room

One of my favorite apps is Sherwin Williams’ “ColorSnap.” You can upload a picture of the room you’d like to paint and then virtually paint it with any shade from their entire library of colors. It lets you take risks without even opening a can of paint. When I virtually painted my kitchen, I was surprised to find out that its long, narrow space looked best when the walls and beams were painted black. Yep, a daring choice, but when I saw the results on my phone, I dove right in.

Choose the Right Eco Paint

Paint fumes can be obnoxious because of something called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which put the odor in paint. When choosing pain,t avoid “low VOC” products — all paint is technically “low.” What you want to purchase are latex paints that are marked “zero VOC,” which means they have no odor whatsoever. I love brands like Benjamin Moore’s Natura and Yolo Colorhouse.

Order the Right Amount

Other than choosing color, how much paint to buy can be a head scratcher. Too little, and you have to run to the store and hope the next batch matches perfectly. Too much, and you’re stuck with excess gallons of paint (not to mention the money wasted). To figure it out, use an online paint calculator. Input the room’s dimensions and the calculator will determine exactly how many gallons or quarts you’ll need to complete the job.

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