10 ways to choose colors

  • Article by: KATY READ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 18, 2013 - 1:00 PM

The choice is overwhelming, so how do you pick the right paint for your decor?

paint brush

Feel overwhelmed by the plethora of possibilities in the paint store? Mark Masica understands. “When I started in the business there were 30 or 40 colors to choose from and now I think we have 8,000,” said Masica, a color consultant for Hirschfield’s, the Minneapolis-based paint and decorating chain. He offered these suggestions for narrowing those 8,000 down to the few you’ll most love in your home.

1. Don’t paint yourself into a corner. When designing a room, select the biggest-ticket items first — counters, cabinets, floor covering, furniture — and work your way down to paint. “The least expensive thing in the project is the paint going onto the walls,” Masica said. “You’ll spend more money on a couple of accent pillows.” So choose the paint color last, and let it tie other elements together.

2. Set the mood. Colors close together on the color wheel (blues and greens, for example), feel tranquil and relaxing. Contrasting colors (blues and oranges, for example) are higher energy. Most people prefer the former to create “an area where they can decompress,” Masica said. But some rooms — kitchen, office, exercise room — may benefit from a more energetic feel.

3. Get back to nature. Natural colors — sky blues and grays as well as earth tones — are trending, Masica said, perhaps because they feel soothing in stressful times. Green is practically a neutral, and different greens look good together. “When I look outside, I don’t go, ‘Gosh, that lawn doesn’t go well with the shrubbery’,” he said. “And if Mother Nature can’t get it wrong, who are we to say we’re smarter than she?”

4. Consider one of the (way more than) 50 shades of you-know-what. Grays are “back in, with a passion,” Masica said. In Minnesota, where nature sports a gray-heavy palette for about half the year, he advised either picking grays with “a warm undertone — a little bit of gold in them or a little bit of brown in them,” or using punches of bright color to warm up cooler grays.

5. Find the room’s focal point. If creating an accent wall, choose the wall with the most significant element, such as the headboard in the bedroom or the fireplace in the living room. “You don’t want to go into a room and say, ‘Look, they painted one wall a different color,’” Masica said.

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