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  • Corey Breingan

Paint picking

Updated: Jul 25, 2019

Guacamole, Vintage Map, Mint Candy, and Late Tomato…what do they have in common? No, they weren’t local bands when I was in high school. These are names of some of my favorite paint colors from years past. Yes, there was a time in my life when I feel like not all walls should be green, but it wouldn’t hurt if they were.

Selecting paint colors can be a task which some folks dread. And, who can blame them when you are handed a deck of thousands of options? Even when you have decided on a color the options are still limitless. You have hundreds of white, blues, or grays even after you make that call.


Browns, beiges, grays, greige, whites and blacks are neutral colors which create natural harmony in a room. These are great colors for open living areas, great rooms, kitchens, and other public living spaces. These are incredible backgrounds for all of your favorite things like art, fabric, and accessories.

Yellow and red are active colors which can add excitement and energy to rooms. Depending on the shade they can also make rooms feel warmer. These colors may limit some of your other choices but are sometimes great choices for dining rooms, sun porches, offices, or libraries.


Green, purple, and blue are examples of passive colors which can help make small spaces feel larger. These colors are a lot of fun in bedrooms, bathrooms, or utility rooms.


After your narrow down the colors you like it is time to think about the finish. Knowing the finish, or sheen, is an important step in selecting your final paint choice. The greater the sheen, the more your walls will reflect light. Most interior and exterior paint comes in different degrees of sheen including gloss, eggshell and flat. When selecting your sheen think about how the room will be used and the clean-ability (I’m not sure that is actually a word) of the walls. This is often an area of disagreement in my own. My husband loves the look of a flat paint which tends to hide imperfections and gives a finish he loves. I lean more towards an eggshell or something which has some sheen to it because I think it is easier to clean the walls where they get dirty. Over the years I have been moving more and more towards flat or matte paint…I guess he wins this one.


Once you have dived into the fan of many choices and selected a few colors you think will best suit your room it is time for a test drive. Now, I have on occasion picked a paint and used it without the test drive, it’s almost never a good idea. Go to your paint or hardware store and get a few samples of your favorite choices. Make sure you get the samples in the right finish, Next, pain some large areas to test the paint. Don’t make the mistake over a tiny swatch that doesn’t help you properly judge the color. Go BIG…I mean, you’re going to painting soon anyway. If that stresses you out you can always paint large samples on poster boards and hang those in your space.  After your swatches are ready to be a judged and lined up like contestants on the Bachelor, be sure to view the samples in both day light and at night. Spend some time in the space with artificial light and natural light to see if you are happy with the choice.


If you are preparing your house for sale, I would recommend going neutral with your walls. Remember, your goal is to help home buyers picture their life, their stuff, their art, their furniture in your home. Neutral walls allow people to more easily picture themselves in the space.



But actually, the house I live in has white (Sherwin Williams Alabaster) walls and I have been super loving them. These walls feel light, sunny, fresh, and ready to go. If you would have told 1996-2010 me that I would live with white paint I would have called your CRAZY. But, I do. And, the color is dreamy.



Above are some of my favorite paint picks for neutral walls. We have used all of these colors before and so I feel confident vouching for them. I hope they help you on your journey Happy paint picking.

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