Living room showcasing the 80/20 rule for how to choose a paint color

How to Choose a Paint Color in 2024 With No Regrets

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Design Tips & Trends

Choosing a paint color is a big decision. It’s a low-cost update but a big effort, so you want to get it right the first time. In this post, I’m going to show you how to choose a paint color that enhances your space and works with the style and content of your room.

A bedroom with a chartreuse paint color accent wall

How To Choose a Paint Color: The 80/20 Rule

There’s one rule I like to consider when choosing paint colors which is the 80/20 rule. Ideally, you want 80% of your space to be neutral and 20% in the accent color.

I like to go neutral on the wall color and then use the remaining 20% for accessories like rugs, cushions, artwork, and textiles.

Living room showcasing the 80/20 rule when it comes to choosing a paint color

How to Pick Paint Colors: Warm vs Cool Tones

Once you have your style chosen, it’s time to think about your color scheme. Consider whether you want your space to feel relaxing or stimulating. Your paint choice can help you achieve this by using cool or warm colors depending on the atmosphere you want to create.

Warm paint colors are stimulating. These include reds, oranges, yellows, and even beige. Cool paint colors tend to be more relaxing. Use blues, greens, and grays if you are looking to make your room a calmer space.

Whilst black and white are not actually colors, black is considered a warm color whilst white is a cool one—so bear this in mind if you are thinking of using them.

An eclectic and chic open floor plan living space showcasing the 80/20 rule when it comes to choosing a paint color

How to Choose a Paint Color for Your Space

Choosing the right paint color can be tricky. These are my top 3 tips to help you decide how to pick a paint color that works best in your space.

1. Test Paint Colors Under Different Lighting

Pick several color swatches and see which looks good on your wall. I like to use the stick-on paint swatches that you can paint yourself. You can peel these off and move them around a room which means you can try them near a window or in the darkest corner of the room. Check-in on the colors throughout the day to see how they look first thing in the morning or at night.

2. Sleep On It!

Don’t bring home all your color swatches and decide there and then. Think about it overnight and have a look the next day or over a couple of days. You want the color to be something that pleases you every day, not just for one moment in time.

3. Get a Second Opinion

Sometimes you can stare at a wall with 1, 10, or 12 different paint colors and get overwhelmed choosing a paint color. It can help to get someone else into the room to help you decide or allow you to verbalize your thoughts on what you like (or dislike) about each paint color.

Dark and moody living room with a fireplace

Top Sherwin Williams Paint Colors for 2024

I have a couple of ‘go-to‘ neutral paint colors that I always gravitate toward when I am stuck in a space or am not sure how the color is going to pull. All the paint color choices below are from Sherwin Williams as I favor these, but you can always color match these in another brand.

  • My top neutral paint color is Agreeable Gray by Sherwin Williams. It has beige undertones so it’s a great transition from a more dated beige to the more modern grays and whites.

  • Next up is Passive Gray by Sherwin Williams. It’s a cool gray and a more modern choice than Agreeable Gray. It gives a subdued and relaxed feel to any space.

  • Pure White by Sherwin Williams is my go-to warm white paint color choice. It can be warmed up even more if you bring in the right textiles, too.

  • And last but not least, Alabaster by Sherwin Williams. This is a white with warm tones so it’s super versatile and can be used in any space. Like Pure White, you can use accessories and fabrics to help further warm or cool your room.

Quick Tip for Painting Accent Walls in a Room

If you want to use different paint color accents, stick with the same palette and go lighter or darker as needed along the same paint swatch.

So if you’re painting an accent wall, stick with the same paint swatch as your main wall color and go lighter or darker for the accent wall. If you do mix different ones, you can risk bringing out undertones that don’t complement each other.

Need Help Choosing Paint Colors?

Are you looking for some help choosing paint colors for your space? I can help with that! My online interior decorating service, Give Me The Vision, is here to help when you’re ready to transform your space on your timeline and in your budget, without feeling overwhelmed about every decision you’ve got to make—like choosing paint colors.

Hey there, I'm Michelle!

Interior Decorator in Austin, TEXAS

As the founder and lead interior decorator here at Cultivate Your Space, I'm here to bring you the vision your space—from the baseboards to the ceilings—even if you have no idea at all what your decorating style is.

My job isn't just to design a space you love. I want your living space to be a source of peace, comfort, security, and joy...not just somewhere you lay your head each night.

Most Austin interior decorators only focus on how your space looks—but not me. I care about both how your space functions AND how it makes you feel.

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