Choosing House Paint Colors | Resource Guide

Below are eleven informative resources to learn about choosing house paint colors.


Wonderful Colors

“Learn, explore, and navigate Color”


What is color? Color or colour can be defined as the “visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green, blue and others.” In other words, color is really what the eye perceives. Color is created by the spectrum of light – which is the distribution of light power vs. wavelength – combining with the spectral sensitivities of the light receptors in the eye. We associate color categories and color’s physical specifications with materials, objects, and light sources; this is based on the color’s physical property, i.e., reflection, light absorption, or emission spectra. The emission spectra of a chemical element or compound is defined by the frequencies at which the element’s or compound’s atoms are emitted when returned to a lower energy rate. When a color space is defined, colors can thus be recognized numerically by their coordinates. Read The Six Colors of the Eiffel Tower Architecture
“Pick Paint Colors For Your House”

This article emphasizes that houses exist in historical and neighborhood contexts. The author advises homeowners to consider what an older structure’s original color scheme might have been. She also recommends finding the middle path between copying the home next to yours and choosing colors that clash with it. This helpful list of tips even suggests a house’s natural environment as a color-scheme inspiration. Each piece of advice is thoughtful, yet the descriptions are brief and to the point.

This Old House
“Choose Paint Colors With a Color Wheel”,,20161202,00.html

The color wheel seems like a natural place for a how-to guide to start. This one reintroduces the concept of complementary colors, which “bring out the best in each other, making both colors look cleaner and brighter.” Understanding primary, secondary, and tertiary colors wasn’t just helpful for 5th grade art class; it can help you choose the right hues for your home.

The author goes on to provide examples of vibrant color combinations using complementary shades. The violet-blue pantry doors and yellow-orange wall look particularly gorgeous together.

“Color Dos & Don’ts”

This well-edited package of stories on color selection starts with the basics — hello again, color wheel! — and moves in all sorts of interesting directions. The writers talk with interior designers, delve into feng shui and the psychology of color, and provide specialized tips for small spaces, such as apartments. (Example: Use sharp hues and unexpected accents.) Among the don’ts: Don’t assume beige is the only neutral, and don’t jump on every trendy color bandwagon that rolls by. The guide even includes a splashy, fast-moving video.

DIY Network
“How to Select the Right Paint and Color for Your Home”

After reviewing paint and sheen types, DIY Network offers tips for achieving looks ranging from subtle and elegant to rich and vibrant. There are also short sections on choosing ceiling hues and using color to create focal points in a room. Like the HGTV guide, this article has a companion video, hosted by an honest-to-goodness contractor.

SF Gate
“How to Choose Paint Colors for Decorating a House”

SF Gate recommends an inside-out approach to choosing paint colors. This involves picking a central item and building a room’s color scheme around it. The article also repeats an age-old bit of painting wisdom: Test your colors on small sections of wall before going all out. There are even tips for homeowners planning to sell: Light colors make rooms look bigger, and white acts as a “blank canvas” that lets potential buyers imagine things their way.

Fazzolari Custom Homes & Renovations
“How to Choose an Exterior Home Paint Color You Will Love”

John Fazzolari is a contractor, so when it comes to color schemes, he knows whereof he speaks. His article on color selection relies in part on amusing anecdotes, some of which are cautionary tales, to make his well-considered points. (The “Smurf Blue” story is particularly memorable.) This piece may not be as systematic as the others on this list, but the conversational tone and common-sense advice (look around your neighborhood for exterior colors you like, then knock on some doors) make this a quick, fun read.

Hooked on Houses
“How to Pick Paint Colors”

Hooked on Houses lives up to its name with this essay on the art of finding the right paint colors. Like Fazzolari’s account, this piece has a strong, compelling voice, but it doesn’t skimp on the helpful tips, either. Are you about to paint a room Shrek green without realizing it? Such mistakes are avoidable, Hooked on Houses assures us, with sufficient forethought.

The article spotlights a gorgeous, deep-red living room, then reveals brands and hues of paint you can use to recreate it. Other gems: Paint chips are ink, not paint, so don’t use them to decide which color looks best in your house; exterior paints often have more vibrant colors, so using them inside can make a bold statement; earth tones are always in style; and low-VOC paints are the way to go, for you and the planet.

The Land of Color
Lori Sawaya, Color Expert and Strategist.

The Land of Color is your destination for color strategy, knowledge, and exploration. From color psychology to color design and everything in between, the experts at The Land of Color have a lot to talk about. They enthusiastically share their color insights with you through blog posts, videos, and podcasts.


Bob Vila
“How To: Select a Paint Color”

Good old Bob Vila. The longtime home-improvement guru is still around, and his approach to choosing paint colors is as grounded as the buildings he renovates. He stresses that color selection is a personal choice that should (and inevitably will) reflect your personality. He also provides a helpful glossary of color terms — a godsend for those who can’t remember the difference between value and tone. (The former is lightness or darkness, the latter intensity.)

Whether your project is interior or exterior, Vila suggests taking a good look at the context your colors will be part of. This includes architectural factors, since a Victorian wears deep colors much more gracefully than a Colonial. Vila also touches on neutral colors; he regards dark brown as a panacea for outside trim, and, yes, beige is a safe bet for siding. As you might expect from someone who’s been in the home-improvement biz for more than three decades, Vila isn’t wild about the notion of following color trends. All in all, his guide is on the conservative side. Then again, if you’re considering radical changes to your home’s appearance, a voice of reason should always be welcome.

House Beautiful
“Color Ideas”

This last guide is a little unconventional. The home-decorating magazine House Beautiful has created an online slideshow of ideas and inspirations that’s eclectic, fun to read, and suitably colorful. Travel back to the 1950s in a color-powered time machine; check out the color scheme of a gorgeous Charleston home on a virtual tour; and explore shades that match the seasons. Perhaps most important: Learn which are “the hardest colors to get right,” and find out why. The slideshow’s creativity and variety make color selection seem like an adventure, not a drag. This may not be the only resource you need to decide on a color scheme, but it’s one you won’t regret using.

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  • Jeff

    Great list of links. SOO many people have trouble with this because different shades, sheens, etc can make a huge difference in the appearance of your home. Another challenge is the fact that there are literally hundreds of options available for a person to choose from now. Would love to have my page regarding the issue added to your list, thanks!

  • Ryan Wilson

    Great article and sources for choosing a color theme for your home!