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Paint Color Selection
Editor In Chief, United Home Improvement
Finding the perfect color to paint the interior and exterior of your
home can be a challenge for even the most skillful do-it-yourselfer.
After browsing through thousands of different colors, it's no
surprise that most homeowners feel overwhelmed! Rest assured,
because there are helpful tricks to getting the most out of your
Understanding the color theory and the vocabulary most commonly used
will help ensure that you are making the best decisions on your
paint color selection. The first step to understanding paint is to
have a good idea of what the “color wheel” is and how to use it.
A color wheel is a circular arrangement of contiguous spectral hues
used in some color systems. Every color on the wheel has a
significant relationship to the other. You can use this wheel to
select colors that will work well together in your home. The color
wheel is divided into primary colors, secondary colors, and
Once you have a good idea of what the color wheel is and how to
relate the colors to one another, you must then learn about the
different color schemes. Color schemes are combinations of colors
found in specific positions on the color wheel. Color schemes are
divided into four main categories which include monochromatic,
adjacent, complementary, and triadic.
• Monochromatic: A color scheme that uses one color and all of the
tones, tints, and shades that can be derived from it. For example,
painting the siding of your home a light green and painting the trim
and shutters a dark green. Often considered a conservative color
• Adjacent: A color scheme that consists of colors which are next to
each other on the color wheel. For example, using blue, blue-green,
and green. Usually one of the three colors is dominant.
• Complementary: A color scheme that consists of colors that are
opposite of each other on the color wheel. For example, red and
green, blue and orange, and purple and yellow. These color schemes
tend to be high in contrast and very lively.
• Triadic: A color scheme that consists of three colors that are
equidistant on the color wheel. For example, blue and green, yellow
and orange, and red and violet. This type of color scheme requires a
skilled eye to put together the complex arrangement of colors.
Aside from the color wheel and color schemes, there are still a few
vocabulary terms in the color theory that you will need to
understand. Defined below are some of the most commonly used
• Tone: A color that has been mixed with gray. Affects a color's
intensity, brightness, and dullness.
• Value: The degree of lightness or darkness in any given color.
• Hue: The aspect of colors that allows them to be designated as
red, green, blue, or any intermediate combination of these colors.
Refers to the property of a color that identifies it.
• Shade: A hue produced by adding a percentage of black to a color.
• Tint: A hue produced by adding a percentage of white to a color.
When painting the exterior of your home, it is extremely important
to take into consideration the environment which surrounds you.
Consider trees, shrubs, and the color schemes of your neighbor's
homes. Everything surrounding your home will have an affect on how
well your color scheme works for you.
Also, don't forget to consider the fixed colors of your home such as
the roof, stonework and brick. You want to choose a color that
enhances theses fixed elements. Also, take into consideration the
architecture of your home when picking out colors.
Before painting the interior of your home, you should consider the
appearance of your walls and woodwork and their relation to
everything else in the house. Also, the color scheme of adjacent
rooms and your intended use of furnishings will have an affect on
the overall appearance.
If you are trying to avoid complex color schemes and simply looking
for a fresh appeal that will work well for all the rooms, consider
painting the walls a neutral color like beige. Beige walls and white
ceilings will go well with everything.