10 Color Mistakes Everyone Makes

Step away from the paintbrush! You might just be committing one of the most common color mistakes. Before you decide on a paint color for the room you’re redecorating, take a step back and gather inspiration. Discover ideas by flipping through magazines and collecting imagery that appeals to you. Then, put them together in a folder or portfolio you can peruse when you have leisure time. As you review your choices, define the mood you want to evoke. Will this room be the place where you relax and unwind? Or, do you want the color to bring energy into the space? The ideas that bubble to the top will lay the groundwork for the room’s color palette.

You don’t necessarily have to start from scratch. Let colors from key elements that you love throughout your home inform your choices. Once you have an idea of the colors you want, take full advantage of the sample sizes available at the paint store. Paint a few 2x2-foot squares in different areas of the room, and live with them for about a week. Take note of what you like and dislike at different times of the day, in both natural and artificial light.

Wading through paint colors for your next room can be overwhelming, but don’t lose hope. Some of the top color experts weigh in on what to avoid when beautifying your home. Click through to read their advice.

By Marie Proeller Hueston | Updated Dec 29, 2020 12:12 PM

A Word to the Wise

Gray Living Room

Ever visited a home where color is used in abundance and then think to yourself, "I want to do the same thing in my house"? Fast forward to the paint store, where you stand frozen in front of a sea of paint chips. The hesitation is understandable. Selecting colors for your home can be daunting. There are simply too many questions—from what shade to choose to how to coordinate the furnishings and fabrics you already own with a new wall color. Because it can be helpful to learn from others' mistakes, we spoke with experts about the color missteps they've seen. Read on to see where fellow homeowners went wrong, and how you can get it right.

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Matching Furnishings to a Wall Color

Neutral Bedroom Ideas

"Never paint your walls first and then try to add furnishings and fabrics that coordinate with that color," advises Carla Aston, principal of Designed with Carla Aston. "You should always start with the items that occupy a room, like a rug or sofa, and then choose a paint color that works with them."

Related:  Reinvent Your Furniture with 8 Colorful DIYs

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Overlooking Lighting

Blue Dining Room

Some colors will look just as you'd imagined when viewed in bright sunlight, but not as expected when lit by a lamp in the evening. Before committing to a color on all four walls, always put up a sample swatch and live with it for some time to check the color in the space, advises Lauren Muse, principal of Muse Interiors. "Leave it up and observe it at different times of day."

Related:  5 Room Makeovers that Only Took Paint

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Thinking "White" Means a Lack of Color

Master Bedroom Colors

Homeowners often pass on white paint when they are looking for color, thinking that their choices will be limited to pure white and creamy ecru. But what we think of as "white" today has grown to include a broad range of shades that incorporate hints of lavender, green, blue, and gray. If a pale hue is intriguing, include this color family in your search.

Related:  11 Reasons to Reconsider Pastels

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Turning a Color Combination into a Color Competition

Loft Decorating Ideas

When you're working with a two-color scheme, don't try to use an equal amount of both hues in the space. Instead, allow one hue to be the dominant force in the room and the other to be the accent color, says Joni Spear, of Joni Spear Interior Design. "Add yellow tones to a blue space or vice versa," she explains.

Related:  Winning Combinations - 9 "Can't Miss" Color Schemes

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Forgetting the Ceiling

Ceiling Design Ideas

"Ceilings are a large expanse of space that are sometimes overlooked when developing a room's overall palette," says Sara McLean, color specialist for Dunn-Edwards Paints. To maximize your ceiling's impact on a room, you might choose a pale shade that complements the walls, a high-gloss white, or a bold hue that acts as a room's main source of color.

Related:  Look! 11 Painted Ceilings that Wow

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Missing the Big Picture

Blue Living Room Ideas

When choosing paint colors for multiple rooms—especially ones that offer a view from one into the next—homeowners sometimes select favorite shades that don't necessarily work together. For a more cohesive look, plan ahead and pick shades close together on the color spectrum, like yellow, green, and blue.

Related:  In Living Color - 7 Tips for Brightening Your Home's Palette

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Skipping Comparisons

Orange Dining Room

"I like to compare five to seven values of the same tone, eliminating them one by one until we have the best two," says Sharon Radovich, principal designer at Panache Interior Designs. Compare both for slight differences at all hours of the day, "and typically one trumps the other," she says. If not, test them both with a sample swatch before proceeding.

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Sticking to a Single Color

Kids Room Ideas

So you've found a favorite color. But simply splashing it up on the walls makes it done. Every hue available at the paint store comes with a family of many shades and tints, so pick up a few extra swatches to identify what those might be for your color of choice. Sharon Radovich of Panache Interior Designs suggests mixing in a few of these on your cabinets, walls, trim, even furniture for a more monochromatic scheme. The extra contrast will make any space more interesting.

Related:  7 Cool Colors for Kids' Rooms

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Believe it or not, even with the vast number of paint color options available, a select handful of hues surpass all the others in popularity. We spoke with industry experts to uncover their best sellers. Click to view now!