Paint Color Combinations

Paint is for more than just walls. Consider trim, ceilings, and other architectural features as surfaces primed for paint. Learn how to pick the perfect paint-color combinations to fashion distinctive rooms.
Different shades of gray on the ceiling, trim, and walls create visual interest in this bedroom.

Picture-perfect paint-color combinations result from up-front research, thoughtful planning, and sometimes a trial run or two. Ease the selection process by taking your color-combo cue from a patterned fabric, an oil painting, magazine images, or snapshots of your travels. Study your inspiration piece to determine in what proportions your favored colors appear to get a feel for which you want to use as your primary, secondary, and accent hues.

Color Selection Strategies

A slightly darker shade on the French door wall in this living room draws attention to the view beyond.

Bring home paint chips that work within your preferred color palette. Choose paint colors that boast similar undertones; red undertones give off warmth, while yellow-tinted shades may appear cooler. Group different-color paint chips and hold them next to furniture, fabrics, kitchen cabinets, and bathroom surfaces to determine which shades enhance your things and each other. Limit your paint-color choices to two or three; add more and you risk visual chaos.

How to use swatches to choose paint colors.

If you just can't get enough color in your life, stretch your color palette by adding in light and dark shades of your main hues; boost their impact by presenting them in finishes that are shinier or duller than paint sheens on adjoining surfaces. Or paint three walls one color and paint the fourth in a complementary hue to create an accent wall that showcases a room's finest feature or furnishings.

More tips on choosing interior color schemes.

Paint On Interest

Look at surfaces that can be painted and think about how you can use different paint colors to define perimeters, accentuate architectural features, further a mood, or visually change the perception of space.

Nothing says classic better than white-painted woodwork; it is crisp and clean, and it showcases every wall and ceiling color. But it's always good to shake things up a bit, so opt for white door and window trim, and then paint the room's more substantial woodwork -- fireplace mantels, built-in bookcases, cabinets, paneled wainscoting -- a deeper paint color, such as creamy gold or charcoal gray.

Stage a little drama by painting walls an understated neutral and emphasizing moldings and decorative trims with a glossy black paint finish. High-contrast color combos result in theatrical designs; go for low-contrast paint colors when you're seeking serenity.

Room-to-Room Transitions

Paint colors in adjacent spaces should complement one another to guarantee a pleasingly cohesive flow from front door to back. The paint colors don't need to match (that would be boring!), but there should be some visual connection. Forge an appealing bond by choosing paint colors that are light and dark versions of one color, such as creamy caramel and chocolate brown. Underscore the link by accessorizing each space with the same or similar fabrics, lighting fixtures, and wood finishes that harmonize with both paint colors.

With all the paint colors out there, how do you choose which one will work for your walls? Find out with these designer tips.

Ready to Pick Paint Colors?

Try out different paint colors on walls, trim, ceilings, and more surfaces with My Color Finder. This free tool helps you decide on the perfect shades of paint before you pick up a paintbrush.

Get started now!

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