The Number One Mistake Homeowners Make When Choosing a Paint Color

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Do you ever find yourself paralyzed at the nail salon when trying to pick a color? You stand in front of this wall of hues and have no idea what you can commit to for the next four to 12 days (depending on whether you get a gel manicure, of course). And the same goes for paint, only amplified tenfold. You walk into your outdated kitchen and think, what color do I want to take in with my coffee each morning? What’s more, you wonder, what do I do if I hate it in a few months? 

Hence, why Sarah Fishburne, Director of trend and design at Home Depot says, “The biggest mistake most people do is pick a color prior to anything else. It’s the last thing you should pick.” Wait, what?! See below for a breakdown of why, plus how to go about choosing the right color for your space.

PSA: 2023's Colors of the Year Are Here

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Soho Home

Color Should Be Tied to a Feeling

Color, in and of itself, is often a tactile representation of the things we feel most connected to. For some, that might be forest greens and chocolate browns from the backyard that offered respite during the pandemic. For others, it could be pastel pinks, greens and blues that remind you of summers spent at your grandparent's beach house. “Everything is rooted in something that makes us feel calm, hopeful, relaxed,” Fishburn explains. Take it from the image above, where Soho Home pairs a stunning velvet lichen sofa against a deep navy blue wall. 

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KristianSeptimiusKrogh/getty images

To that end, Fishburn mentions two post-pandemic themes we’ve been seeing everywhere: nature and nostalgia. “During the pandemic, [the] only place we could get away was in our backyards. Then, in the second year, it became about well-being—we saw a lot of live plants, natural elements with textures, and rugs that were natural and had an [organic feel],” she explains. “We’re [also] seeing a return of the traditionalist. Classic colors (like soft neutrals and terracotta) have kind of a nostalgic feel; they make us remember something from our past and relate to our [childhoods].” In any case, Fishburne recommends taking the time to test your color for an emotional/physical reaction before committing to it (more on that below).

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Artjafara/getty images

Textiles and Decor Should Come First 

First, you want to start by taking a look at your closet and identifying some common tones. “What colors do you wear?” Fishburne recommends asking yourself. “There are colors that we tend to gravitate toward—[and] those are actually really great colors to put in your [home] when all else fails.” Once you’ve narrowed it down to a single color, you want to see how it’ll work with the space. “Try choosing one hero piece to pull a room together,” she suggests. Think: a sage green lumbar pillow, a cream cowhide area rug or a millennial pink Monet print. Select a piece, place it in the space and tape a few paint samples to the wall around it. Not only will this give you an idea of how everything will look when it’s finished, but it allows you to see (and feel) the color before you actually commit. “I’m a big believer [in leaving] it for a couple days,” Fishburne adds.

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Long story short? Color has the ability to impact your mood and bring you to a place of comfort and optimism. Yet, unlike a gel manicure, paint requires a commitment; your wall color will stick with you for years to come. Take the time to really test some tones (so you don’t find yourself loathing that trendy green years later). 

Benjamin Moore's 2023 Color of the Year Is Raspberry Blush 

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Assistant Editor

Sydney Meister is PureWow's Assistant Editor, covering everything from dating trends and relationship advice (here's looking at you, 'soonicorns') to interior design, beauty...