Choosing House Paint Colors that Complement & Inspire

The easiest way to choose paint colors is to gain inspiration, get your hands on a color fan deck, and purchase color samples to compare. There are many things to consider when choosing paint colors, and decisions will vary based on whether you are selling, buying, or repainting your home. 

It’s important to have ideas and an overall vision before consulting with decorators or painters; otherwise, you could be influenced or persuaded to paint a color you are unhappy with. 

We are interior and exterior house painters in Raleigh, NC, with over 20 years of experience helping people make house paint selections that will look good and last a long time. 

How Color Is Used in a Space

Color can define different areas within a space, highlight architectural features, or create a sense of continuity throughout a home. It can also evoke specific feelings or emotions.

By understanding the psychology of color and how it relates to different spaces, painters and designers can create environments that cater to specific needs and preferences.

How to Choose Wall Colors

Our recommendation for choosing interior wall colors is to be neutral and complement the surrounding colors and decor in central locations such as kitchens, hallways, foyers, and other common areas.

Neutral paint colors don’t have to be light, bland, or contain high LRVs. Medium grays and other colors with subtle undertones are also considered neutral paint colors. Choosing your favorite color for the common areas is not always a compliment for the entire layout and is often better placed in a bedroom or as an accent color.

Also, consider how paint color affects the mood of the room. Blue, green, yellow, and other variations all influence the overall feel of an area differently. Light colors will make a room feel large, open, and inviting, while darker colors will make a room feel smaller and boxed in. 

When choosing interior paint colors, don’t underestimate how much interior wall color will change your home’s decor. Wall square footage accounts for the most surface area in a room; therefore, wall color will have the most visual impact. 

How to Pick Neutral Paint Colors

The primary reason for picking neutral paint colors is to keep the home’s concept uniform and consistent. Another common reason is to enable seamless transition between rooms.

For example, a neutral paint color in an upstairs hallway will enable a seamless transition between incompatible bedroom colors. A neutral paint color also prevents a home’s color scheme from appearing busy, chaotic, or confusing.

Multiple paint colors can leave your guests anxious and confused. We recommend a three-color limit from any viewing angle to prevent the color scheme from having this effect. 

Confidently Choosing an Accent Color

It is important to be bold when choosing accent colors for your home. The more the color change and variation are embraced, the more intentional the accent color appears. 

Accented elements include colors and textures that contrast a home’s primary walls, siding, or trim. Usually, accent colors are dark, vibrant, or pastel, but they can also be light and airy if the surrounding areas of the home are dark. 

Black paint colors have also traditionally stood the test of time. Dark accents are considered modern fads, but they have been around since the 1700s when house painting began.


Selecting a coordinating accent color involves choosing a darker or light color from the same color palette or picking a color that will stand out and coordinate with the remaining color scheme. One of the most noticeable accent colors is red. Red paint colors have perpetuated popularity through all color trends and are proven timeless and elegant.

Color Placement & Lighting

Light will influence your paint color the most, and its influence will alter throughout the day. Incandescent, fluorescent, and natural light omit different undertones; also supported by Wallauer’s Paint Center, light will affect the paint color. The best way to see how light will influence a paint color is to paint a large piece of white cardboard and move it around to see how the light will change the color’s appearance. 

Comparing various paint colors under well-lit conditions is essential, no matter your final choice—otherwise, they may appear similar, limiting your ability to compare subtle differences.

Trim & Ceiling White

Variations of white have been the predominant paint colors for interior ceilings and trim for a long time. While white may be perceived as a bland paint color to some, more options are available for white paint colors than any other. Some white colors appear lighter gray in adequate lighting, while others will reveal their more delicate creamy or gold undertones. 

Kitchen Cabinet Colors

Kitchen cabinets are commonly stained wood or a lighter painted color, typically white or cream. Kitchen islands often are accented with darker colors such as black, dark blue, and green. If your kitchen doesn’t have an island, a lighter or medium variation of blue or green is also a great option against white walls.


Selecting a Monochromatic Color Layout

Selecting one high-reflective color for the entire room will reflect the most light. Light colors are also easier to touch up and retain color over long periods. A monochromatic, clean look will never go out of style and is exceptional at showcasing natural hardwood flooring.

With a touch of a paintbrush or wet rag, a monochromatic layout makes scuff marks, scratches, and dings easy to remove. 

Additional Reasons Your Paint Color Looks Different

There are several reasons paint colors don’t turn out how envisioned. First, it’s pivotal to select paint colors provided by the manufacturer. While matching paint colors from other brands is possible, there will be a slight color variance in the matched color. 

While fan decks and color swatches help initiate the process, it’s essential to understand that paper color samples do not accurately represent the final paint colors – “paper and paint will never appear the same.” Purchasing color samples is best for final decisions.

The paint finish will also influence how rich the paint color looks. Satin and glossy finishes make colors appear wet, lustrous, and darker. Often, flat paint will appear dull or chalky. For example, damp asphalt pavement looks darker than dry pavement, and satin paint would be comparable to wet pavement. 

Don’t Decide Paint Colors at the Store

If you are having your house painted and the contractor doesn’t provide color consultations, head to a local paint store to evaluate and compare colors, but never finalize paint colors while you are there. Paint colors often look different at the paint store than at your home. 


Once you have done your due diligence, color consistency is vital to buying all the paint from the same store. Paint mixing machines in stores are calibrated slightly differently, and often, paint stores will vary in how the colors are formulated.

Never Choose Paint Colors Online

Viewing and comparing paint colors on a computer or electronic device is never a good idea. Computer screen variation is another topic – know that an electronic screen can never accurately represent a paint sample. 

Like a fan deck, a computer may be a plausible starting place to find inspiration and provide the best paint tools for applying colors to photos of your home. However, computers, tablets, and phones are never good places to distinguish nuanced color differences.


  1. Find your inspirations.
  2. Reference the colors online or with a fan deck.
  3. Get paint color samples.
  4. Test each sample in multiple locations using cardboard.
  5. Select durable paint.
  6. Get all the paint from the same paint store.

There is no right or wrong color palette for your home. Still, paint colors must be considered and selected systematically to fit within your home’s decor and offer a uniform expression of taste and decor. When you choose house paint colors that do not go together, the home’s concept, design, and direction get lost in translation.

We provide expert interior and exterior painting services in Cary, NC, and surrounding areas. Call us at 919-426-4929 today for a free quote!

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