Here's Why You Should Pick Your Paint Color Last When Designing A Room

Paint color is a huge factor when designing a room, and you might be tempted to pick that first during the design process. But to ensure everything turns out cohesively, you should actually pick it last. That's because the wrong tint can clash with whatever existing elements you already have.

"One common mistake I see often is selecting a paint hue before considering existing flooring, fabrics, and window treatments," Dee Schlotter, senior color marketing manager at PPG Paints, told MyDomaine. Since there are millions of paint colors to choose from, you can eventually narrow down the best shade that works with the decor and features of your space. But it's much harder (and more expensive) to pick out or change your furniture and decor to match your paint.

Because of this, you will also want to alter how you choose your paint colors. "Similarly, when trying to get a feel for how a color will look in a room, people often take paint swatches and hold them up to the wall — however, you should also hold your paint chips next to your furniture, flooring, and window treatments to see how the color will react to décor pieces in the room," she explained.

Why this matters

When decorating, rooms are either warm- or cool-toned. The former uses a warm color palette, using woods with warm undertones such as cherry, hickory, and mahogany and accents using red, orange, pink, and yellow hues. This can also include metal accents such as copper and brass. Cool rooms, on the other hand, use woods with cool undertones such as ash, maple, and poplar and combine cool-toned elements such as stainless steel and concrete. For colors, these rooms usually implement a lot of grays, blues, and greens. Unless you're an experienced expert, mixing warm and cool elements can often result in a messy room.

However, that's not to say you can't use blue in a warm room or red in a cool room — you just have to use the correct undertone for that shade. That's why choosing your paint color last is best — you can avoid picking the wrong tone. For example, a gray will become warm if it has yellow, beige, red, or brown undertones. Just look at greige for proof. If you pick your paint color last, you can narrow down the perfect tint to tie the room together.

You might need to switch your lightbulbs

Another reason you should choose paint last is so you can see how it looks with your lights. Most people not only have overhead lighting, but also ambient lighting in the form of table and floor lamps. This gives a softer glow, but it can also completely change how your paint color looks.

"Your paint color will look different in natural light than in LED. Natural daylight shows the truest color, while incandescent light brings out warm tones and yellows, and fluorescent lighting casts a sharp blue tone," Dee Schlotter tells MyDomaine. If you have a warm room and choose paint with yellow undertones, you might have to change out your LED lights for the shade to work. Or, if you want to keep the LED bulbs, you need to choose the same paint color with orange undertones to color-correct the blue. Choosing paint last allows you to catch these hiccups and tie your room together.