Painting is a process, whether you are agonizing over the color selection or actually brushing the paint on the walls. "You are the artist of your own environment," says Barbara Richardson, color marketing manager for Glidden Paint. "You shouldn't be afraid to experiment and then adjust and tweak."
Nervous homeowners can find help from designers, architects and color consultants, as well as apps. Valspar's new Color Connect iOS app connects folks to color consultants for a live or email exchange. "We find that consumers need the voice of affirmation that the color they chose is the right one," says Sue Kim, Valspar color strategist. "We can narrow them down together."
Not feeling like Monet yet? Here are some paint experts with their best tips.
Zoe Kyriacos is an architectural color consultant based in Takoma Park, Md.
Consider the existing items in your room. Flooring, rugs, artwork and upholstery will suggest a color direction. Try to pull together these elements in your color choice. If your home is not furnished, make the paint color the last thing you choose.
Take your paint samples home. Colors you select in the store will look different under the lighting of your home.
Don't examine a paint sample against a white wall. Putting a sample on a white wall will cause it to appear darker than it really is. This results in many people making a choice that is too light. Put the paint sample against a sofa, wood furniture or flooring for a better perspective.
Take into account how color flows from room to room. If you have a modern house with an open floor plan, it's important to use one wall color throughout the main floor. Add accent colors in a few carefully considered areas.
Stick with white trim in most cases. Try several whites before you make a final selection. Benjamin Moore's Simply White works well with cooler shades such as blue, gray, purple and pink. Warmer colors, such as yellow or green, call for a softer white, such as Benjamin Moore's Mayonnaise.
Washington designer Elizabeth Hague has been known for her calm and classic interiors. Here are her go-to colors for different rooms.
Living room: Benjamin Moore Soft Chamois. This pleasant clay color is a neutral backdrop for textiles, furniture and accents.
Dining room: Farrow & Ball Cornforth White. This dark, warm gray has a lot of pigment in it, which makes it rich and beautiful in candlelight.
Kitchen: Farrow & Ball Blackened. This chalky blue serves as a nice contrast to natural stone countertops, cabinets and polished-nickel fixtures.
Bedroom: Pratt & Lambert Smoke Ring. Choose a beautiful color to wake up in, such as this periwinkle blue-gray. It's the color of sky on a clear day.
Bath: Pratt & Lambert Full Moon. To go with natural stone flooring and countertops and polished nickel fixtures, choose a shade with warm gray-green tones, such as this off-white.
The right white
Christian Zapatka is a Washington architect who specializes in design work that incorporates architecture and interiors. He has a lot of experience choosing white paints. Here are some of his favorites.
Walls in traditional homes: Benjamin Moore China White. This white has a soft, warm tone, with a faint "greige" background.
Trim in traditional homes: Benjamin Moore White Dove. Ideal for all types of woodwork, this shade is compatible with almost any wall color. It has a clean white quality while keeping a warm tone.
Walls and trim in modern homes: Benjamin Moore Super White. For a flawless look with no trace of yellow or gray, this is it. It's as pure white as you can get, so it's the best choice for a modern interior.
For a house where all rooms are painted white: Farrow & Ball's Strong White. This is a warm white without any yellow cast, which makes it great as a totally neutral background.
Bookcases and cabinetry: Farrow & Ball's All White. Bookcases and built-ins look great when painted this crisp, bright white. It sets off the wall color around it.
Denise Sabia, a decorator from Ambler, Pa., writes about paint on her blog, the Painted Home (paintedhomedesigns.com). She is an expert at giving flea market finds a fresh look, often with specialty finishes.
Chalkboard: There are lots of possible applications for chalkboard paint, and it makes a great conversation piece, whether on drinking glasses, bedroom walls, tabletops or drawer fronts. It's great in the kitchen for grocery lists. Favorite brand: Rust-Oleum Specialty Chalk Board.
Chalk: Chalk-finish paint (not to be confused with chalkboard paint) dries quickly and adheres to almost anything. This creates a chalky finish that sands down to a super smooth surface. There is also limited prep work besides cleaning the piece with a paper towel and Simple Green spray. Favorite brand: Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.
Metallic: Metallic paint is a bold look that should be used sparingly. Use it as an accent on the edges of furniture or on accessories to add a little shimmer. Favorite brand: Martha Stewart Living Metallic Paint.
Milk: Milk paint is the perfect solution if you are looking for the chipped, timeworn look. It can flake off furniture when it dries to appear vintage. Favorite brand: Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint.
Mirror: There is a lot of interest these days in mirror-finish spray for home accessories. You can apply it on Mason jars or other accessories to create a sort of mercury glass look. It adds a layer of instant charm. Favorite brand: Krylon Looking Glass Mirror-Like Paint.