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Paint Color Selection
Written by Elizabeth Wood
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 color scheme.

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 intermediate colors.

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 scheme.

• 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 vocabulary terms.


• 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.

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