Choosing Wall Paint Color

Find the best paint colors for your home with these color-by-color tips for selecting the right shade of red, blue, green, and more.


Choosing Wall Paint Color: Blue

True blue is America's favorite color, but in an interior it needs to match the space with an infusion of warmth to make it cozy. Pay attention to the shade of blue you want to use as a dominant color. Aqua, turquoise, and cobalt are cool. Blues that veer toward warm include denim and slate.

Use cool blue in a south-facing room that gets warm during the day. It will lower the perceived temperature slightly. Team up blue with antiqued brass, terra-cotta, and brick-red hues for warmth, or with dark wood furniture or flooring for added depth and richness.

In a blue-and-white scheme, choose a shade warmer than pure white, such as off-white with creamy tones. In an all-blue room, limit the palette to two blues -- a tint and a shade of the same hue -- and select accessories in intense or bright blues. Use textiles with pattern and texture to prevent a blue scheme from becoming too staid.

Get our favorite blue paint color names.

Browse inspiring ideas for decorating in blue.

See how to use blue in a color scheme.


Choosing a Color Palette
Choosing Wall Paint Color: Green

Like white, brown, and black, green has the happy ability to work with any color. Just as in nature, all greens work together, so if you're stuck for a color scheme, look to green. Transition smoothly from the natural green outdoors with a green entryway, sun porch, or hallway.

Use a springy green in a room that has small windows or a blocked view to make up for the lack of a natural vista. Because it is a cool color, green is ideal for a room that becomes sunnier during the day.

Bring disparate furnishings into harmony within a room with walls painted in green. Because it mixes well with other colors, green is an excellent choice for a house with an open floor plan. Choose a favorite hue from a graduated paint strip as your main color, then select other colors from the strip for your accents.

See our best tips for decorating in green.

Choosing Wall Paint Color: Red

Start small and introduce red through accents, such as a lamp base or pillow. Use it as a background color on a shelf of collectibles you want to showcase.

Let your house guide you. In a cottage, pair red with blue and white for a nautical look, or soften it to a raspberry pink with pastels.

Use dark tones in a traditional setting and chalky reds in a country-style home. Red stimulates the appetite, so use it in the kitchen or dining room to spice up your entertaining. Try its energy in your home office and watch your productivity soar.

See our favorite ways to decorate with red.

Choosing Wall Paint Color: Yellow

Energetic and cheerful yellow can be a tricky color if used with abandon. Bright yellow can quickly become overbearing if applied with a heavy hand. Try muted or light tones of yellow if using it on all the walls in a room. Sunny yellow is ideal for a room used in the morning or a room that gets little or no direct sunlight. Yellow will look darker on your walls than on the paint chip or in the can, so go a shade lighter when selecting the color you want.

Yellow needs balance. It's hard to ignore, so yellow requires a partner color that can stand up to it. Use an analogous color or a cool hue as your second color. When walls are yellow, use warm white as your trim or accent color. A cooler white may tend toward gray when paired with yellow.

See our best tips for decorating in yellow.

Choosing Wall Paint Color: Orange

Orange adds energy to a room. Try pairing it with a pattern to make it work for you. For soft furnishings, choose a graphic pattern to match the boldness of the color.

A highly visible color, orange is ideal to accent a focal feature. Try it as the backdrop for a shelf of collectibles or to drape a window with a view. Use orange as the dominant color in rooms where you want to encourage activity, such as the family room or kitchen.

Orange walls call for darker woods on floors and furniture. Light woods may not offer enough contrast. Try orange in its lighter tints to add brightness to a room that lacks natural light.

See our best tips for decorating in orange.

Choosing Wall Paint Color: Purple

This child of warm red and cool blue has a split personality that can be soft and sweet in one guise and imperious in another. Long associated with royalty, purple has an aura of richness. Play to that strength with luxurious, shimmering, and tactile fabrics, such as velvet, silk, suede, and chenille.

Purples that tend toward the red end of the scale feel warmer. Pair those shades with colors from the cooler side of the color wheel, such as blue or green. Blue purples call for mates such as orange or yellow.

Enhance the romantic and glamorous side of purple with silver and mirrored accents. Tone down the sweetness of lavender with a few accent pieces in black.

See our best tips for decorating in purple.

Choosing Wall Paint Color: Neutrals

Neutrals are easy to live with. Metallic finishes and mirrors add sparkle and depth to rooms with near-monochromatic schemes. They can magnify accent colors used throughout the space or bring focal-point status to colorful accents.

Use visual and touchable texture to add interest -- and well-placed color -- in a room with a neutral scheme. Use soft, fuzzy pillows, shaggy rugs, and woven baskets to excite the senses.

Play with scale by using oversize accessories such as framed artwork or a large urn for drama.

Add surprise to a neutral scheme with bursts of color such as orange, lipstick red, or chartreuse. Inject charm with muted pastels.

See our best tips for decorating in neutrals.

Find the Perfect Wall Paint Color

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