Want to know how to pick paint colors for your entire house? Here are five simple tips to make the entire paint choosing process so much easier.

An elegant living room with a crisp blue and white color scheme, featuring striped armchairs, a sofa adorned with decorative pillows, a glass-topped coffee table, and harmonious decor accents.

You all are the BEST.

Thank you so much for all the encouragement about the spring house tour.

And the best part? All the emails you sent about paint colors in the house. It’s one of my favorite things to discuss—I love, love, love to talk about house paint colors.

Seriously.

It’s right up there in my top five topics of conversation along with Downton Abbey, yard sale shopping, why more red lipstick is needed in this world and how I changed my life by cutting off my jeans and fraying them.

If you ever see me shopping in Walmart, please stop me and ask me for help with house paint colors.

I’ll put down my galvanized tray and give you my full attention.

And one of the questions I get asked the most is “How do I make sure all the colors in my house match?”

Great question. So let’s say for example that you find a color that you love. One that works. One that makes you leap for joy and sends shivers of joy down your spine when you open a paint can. But where do you go from there? Where do you find other colors that work with that color?

You want to be brave.

You want to be paint bold.

But how do you make sure all the colors in your house go together?

No worries.

I got you friend.

Here’s how to pick house paint colors for every room (along with all the paint colors in my house).

A bright and elegant living room featuring a blue and white color scheme, with matching patterned cushions and decor, set against a backdrop of crisp white walls and natural light.

SW Extra White

How to Pick House Paint Colors

Step 1: Are your house paint colors cool or warm?

This is where it all begins.

This is where it all starts

You probably already know if you like cool colors or warm colors, but if you haven’t decided yet, I would look in your closet. For example, look at your reds. Are they pink or are they orange? Then look at your yellows. Are they bright yellow or pale yellow? You as a person are drawn to a color palette. You just might not have noticed.

Now take your clothing choices and apply them to your house.

My house?

My clothes?

I’m cool.

Well, actually, I’m not really that cool, but my paint colors are.

The front living room in the house is painted SW Extra White. I love this color because it’s the perfect white. It’s true blue. I’ve painted moldings this color and walls this color and it never lets me down. It looks slightly different with different sheens. You can read this post I wrote on which paint finish to pick for which project in your home.

A selection of six best white paint colors swatches with varying shades of white, each labeled with a unique color name and code, ideal for interior design choices.

Here are some of my other favorite whites.

Notice that some are cool and some are warm.

You want to choose a color lane and stick to it.

House paint colors: hallway

SW Sandbar

2. Put all your paint chips on the table

I took this picture so you could see how these rooms flow together.

I like to layer the rooms so the colors all work together. One of the easiest ways to do that is to find all the paint chips you like and place them on a table together. If one paint color doesn’t work with the others it’s SUPER OBVIOUS.

(total aside: one important exception to this is when you have a bedroom or room that’s set off from other rooms by a hallway. If you want to select a COMPLETELY different color for there? Live your best paint life and go for it.)

It’s also important to note that when you are looking at colors on two (or three different) strips of paint chips, many times the colors will appear to be the same. THEY ARE NOT!  Do not be fooled.  Each strip of paint color chips is tinted in a slightly different direction.

For example, a khaki could have a pink base or a blue base.

A gold can have a green base or a brown base.  A red could have an orange base or a pink base. (I think you get the point).

To see the true color hue look at the darkest color on the strip.

This color has the most color saturation and you can see the true base color much more easily.

House paint colors: neutral colors.

Here are some of my favorite neutrals.

When you are trying to figure out how to pick paint colors, paint friends are a must.

This is most of the color palette of my house and these colors all work together like they are best friends.

Like they are about to rent an RV and take themselves on a trip across America.

House paint colors: laundry room

SW Agreeable Gray

Here’s the laundry room painted SW Agreeable Gray.

I paired it with SW Extra White for the trim and a flat plain white ceiling paint for the ceiling.

If you are looking for how to pick a paint finish? Here’s a great post I wrote about that.

Don’t forget when you are choosing your paint colors that all surfaces are NOT created equal.

Fact #1:  When painting a ceiling any other color than white it’s important to understand that color on a ceiling appears lighter than on the wall.

It has to do with the way that light is reflected off the ceiling and the walls.

One designer tip I learned years ago—you can paint the entire room (ceiling and walls) the same color. It wraps the room and the color on the ceiling will look like a lighter version of the wall color. It actually looks like you painted the walls and the ceiling two different colors.

Fact #2:  The floor is the opposite of the ceiling. So many times paint looks different when you paint it on the floor.

The same color painted on the floor appears darker than the same paint color on the wall.

Fact #3:  When looking at a paint chip in the store hold it next to something white to see the true color.

Holding it next to anything else can throw off the tones in the paint.

SW Naval

3. Choose the mood you want to create in your spaces with your house paint colors.

This is such an important point.

Color helps determine the mood of the room.

The dining room is painted SW Naval.

See how the dark walls create a cozy feeling in the space. When choosing a dark paint color, saturation is the key.

Please, please remember this unsolicited advice when you are standing in front of that paint display.

Find the color you want.  And then?  Go one shade darker on the paint chip to try out along with the color you want to pick. Try them both out at home and you’ll be surprised that so many times you’ll end up liking the darker shade better.

I know. 

It’s scary.

I get it.

It’s only natural. We have a tendency to go lighter with our paint choices.  The challenge is that depending on the room–natural light tends to wash out our first (lighter) color choice.

Trust me on this one.  You will be much happier with a little more saturation.

A serene and well-appointed bedroom featuring a plush bed with pink and white bedding, matching nightstand, a stylish bench at the foot of the bed to make your guest bedroom cozy, soft-hued floral

SW Evergreen Fog

Here’s another bedroom upstairs painted in SW Evergreen Fog.

See how warm and inviting the room is?

A room wrapped in a darker color like this feels extra cozy.

cropped-A-1-Striped-Bedroom-Makeover-open-curtains-low-res.jpeg

SW Cavern Clay

4. Does the paint work in your space at different times of the day?

I cannot stress this enough.

Make sure you paint samples on the wall and live with them for a couple of days.

Always sample, sample, sample.

See what the paint color looks like at night. See what the paint color looks like during the day. See what the paint color looks like when it’s raining outside.

They sell quart paint samples at Sherwin-Williams.

The best money you will ever spend.

A painted swatch on the wall beats a paint chip color hands down every time.

You can also take big pieces of poster board and paint your colors on them and move them around the room to see how they look in different lights.

A cozy and elegant kitchen featuring a blue island with a marble countertop, white wooden stools, a chic pendant light, and open shelving stocked with dishes in the background.

Kitchen Island SW Peppercorn || Walls SW Extra White

5. Have fun with your house paint colors

Picking out paint colors for an entire house seems stressful.

I get it.

Truly.

Even from someone who talks about paint colors as party conversation, I understand.

Here’s the thing.

It is only a can of paint. Colors can be changed in a day. If you don’t like a paint color you have chosen, it’s an easy fix to repaint it with another color.

high-res-bathroom-1-680x1024-1

SW Let It Rain

See? Isn’t discussing paint colors fun?

YOU GOT THIS.

You are a paint rock star.

Now go find your tune. 🙂

PS I’d love to hear your favorite colors and your favorite tips, too.

PPS If you are looking for ideas on how to pick paint colors for creative unique paint projects here are some of my favorites.

Painted cube wall

Painted herringbone wall

Painted stripes

Painted ombre hexagon wall

Painted flower diamonds

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.

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Comments

  1. Image for Jodena Beale Jodena Beale

    I remember when I bought my very 1st house by myself as a newly single woman in 2005. My favorite house ever in all of my 67 years of living. I wanted my TV room green, but what green I wasn't sure. I did look at samples and then chose a paint. I painted two walls this green, and really disliked the color. By the time I chose the perfect color that room had partially been painted 4 times in different greens. Lol. I did really love the final choice, it was almost a light khaki green with slightly grey undertones. And it was a total different green shade from the other 3 wasted gallons. Lol. Lesson learned. I have come a long way on choosing paint since then. Thanks for the story. I enjoyed it.

  2. Image for Jan McKenzie Jan McKenzie

    Hi Karianne: Can you please send a link for the navy and white carpet shown in the dining room picture from this post. I love it and I'm looking for a new carpet for my great room. That would be a great choice. Thanks so much, Jan

  3. Image for Sharon Sharon

    We, eons ago, owned an automotive paint store. My hubby was very good about paint and knowing what colors made up a color. He even was called in to eye match paint colors for Indy 500 cars. I was fooling around 1 day trying to get a color I wanted. He was watching and said you need to add black. Well I thought that was silly, but it worked. I loved what you did putting down the different paint chips because just the touch of 1 color completely changes the color. And just so you know, my sweet hubby (of 61 years) has twinkling BLUE eyes!

  4. Image for Rizae Rizae

    I painted my entire interior SW Alabaster except the bathroom, its SW Pure White. As we are putting home on market I wanted a open, airy feeling to a 950 sq ft home. It looks great! I picked up this tip from you last year and I cant thank you enough. ❤👍

  5. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    Thank you, KA. And not that I'd ever want you to air out your dirty laundry, so to speak - any chance you could maybe also share comparisons to your blogged photo next to an unedited lightened up one? Lightening photos enhances the beauty of a space but it DOES change the color - along with monitors, where we are looking at the photos in whatever room or on phone, etc - but I'd sure love a comparison to an unenhanced pic/s to see them better. (Even if you just email them to me.) I am trying to help my sister who wants some light neutrals and her home is dark and she gets VERY depressed when the sun is not out. (She just spent her first winter not in Florida in years and it was a big hardship for her state of being.) So she's trying to lighten up finally. Thank you.

  6. Image for Denise Hopkins Denise Hopkins

    I'm so glad I found your site! You are so bubbly and always make me smile. Thank you for all of your great content and for you!

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