How To Properly Use Paint Swatches

For most people, selecting paint swatches are the go-to first step when it comes to picking out the right color for a room. But did you know that you can utilize paint swatches in more than one way? These colorful swatches come in teeny tiny square shapes that aren't very helpful to the imagination as you try to picture it in your space. Nevertheless, they can be extremely useful in the initial stages of choosing the perfect hue.

Nicole Gibbons, founder of Clare Paint, believes most people will narrow down to a color family first (i.e., creams, pinks, etc.) and then pick out a few paint swatches within this family. "Sampling in and of itself is an investment, so a chip can help you narrow down which options you want to invest in sampling," she told Martha Stewart. You may think you love a color in the store, but seeing the swatch in your home could be a whole different story. 

Utilizing paint swatches in the initial selection process

Although paint swatches aren't always the best way to imagine how different shades will look in a room, interior designer Kati Curtis told Martha Stewart that she recommends utilizing paint swatches for small details. "One way to use paint chips effectively is to match them with certain fabrics or other elements that you already have in the room," Curtis explained. "This can help you coordinate colors and create a cohesive look." Got a particular piece of furniture you want your wall to complement? You can use a swatch to get an idea of how close the paint match should be.

So, although it can be difficult to picture how a paint swatch will look slathered across all four walls of a space, it will give you a better overall idea of how a color will look with your furniture, as well as how it will look with your wall trim. Paint swatches aren't just for matching existing colors, either. You can also use them to see how different hues will look if you want to create a curated contrast — for example, navy blue with soft pink.

Paint swatches will help you save money

Once you've managed to decide on the colors you prefer, it's time to order small sample paint pots online or at a nearby home improvement store. It can be expensive to buy several of them, so only do this when you've narrowed down your selection to three or four hues. The next step is to paint the sample on different sections of your wall. Lighting can drastically change the appearance of a color, so it's best to see how the sample looks on a wall across several days, through blinding sun, pouring rain, and everything in-between.

Overall, paint swatches are too small for you to use in place of an actual paint sample, but they're vital in saving you money on buying colors that you think you love but that don't quite work in your home. To get the most out of swatches, use them to first narrow down your color preferences to one family, then narrow your selection down even further before taking the plunge with actual paint to test on your wall.