Paint can make or break a room and if you are like most people you might be nervous about your paint selections. Picking the right colour is an extremely daunting task especially when you get to the paint store (We frequently have used and recommend Cloverdale in Calgary) and discover that ‘white’ or ‘grey’ have 100s of shades each. Just remember it is worth it!! The right execution can elevate a space from small, dingy and rough to clean, bright and fresh for a very minimal cost. Paint is probably the best investment you can make when getting ready to sell your home. Here are a few steps to make choosing the right colour less stressful, help with the process and ensure if you do make a mistake it keeps the time and costs to a minimum. 

Keep reading this blog below, as we cover the best tips on helping you pick out your homes next paint colours! 


Don't rush it 

Give yourself enough time to work through the process! This is probably the most important step to follow especially if you are new to colours and painting. 

Work with process of elimination vs just staring at the wall of hundreds of paint options. Give yourself time to work through all the finalists IN the space, the store has different lighting, different colours and you are working off memory of your space. Following the steps below will give you the best chance of picking the right colour for each space. 

Bring as many paint swatches home with you as you like, that’s what they are there for! Make sure to grab a couple darker and lighter of your favourite colours, sometimes once you get them home a colour can really surprise you. Upon picking a couple finalists, purchase sample size paint, they are typically less than $10 and have enough paint to give you enough of a patch to really see what the end game will look like. When you are painting test patches there are a few things to remember:

  • Fade your edges, the last thing you want is to see where you painted your test patches!
  • Paint a large enough patch to really see the colour, don’t limit yourself to a couple feet, you can paint a floor to ceiling, a couple feet wide ‘patch’. 
  • Paint more than one patch. Once you have narrowed it down to one or two colours, paint a couple more patches in the space. In a recent kitchen project, contractors painted a patch on the west wall of our clients home that was beside the cabinets, on one the south wall next to the trim and door and one on the North wall that was next to the builtin cabinets. The clients were so happy they did this since the colour they were leaning towards looked great next to the cabinets but made the doors and trim look pink! 
  • Wait for the paint to dry! Paint drys darker than when it is wet. Also the colour of the paint will change with the lighting of the room. As the sun goes down and the lighting is from a bulb vs the sun, it can change the appearance of the colour. Make sure you like the colour during the day as well as in the evening.

Bonus: There are plenty of great show homes in and around the city, especially in newer communities. Consider this, one of the best home builders in Calgary that we work with (Streetside Developments) has a dynamic range of show homes and styles, these builders work with various designers and stagers with one major goal of creating an appealing space for the hundreds of home buyers that they see on a weekly basis looking to purchase a new home. Leverage the research, time, and energy that these professionals have taken on and walk through a few of their show homes, you should be able to draw inspiration for your next paint project. 

What is the Intent of the space 

Start out by thinking about the end game is one of the best approaches to help narrow down your options.

Some of the questions you should ask yourself are:

- Am I selling my home soon?

- Who is going to be using this space and what for?

- What is the feeling I want when I come in this room?

- What else is already in the space? 

- Is there furniture or art that I already own that I want to use within this space?

Each of these questions will provide you the answers to the ‘big questions’ which will then allow you to slowly narrow down to shades vs. colours.

Speaking of which, you're probably asking what are the ‘big questions’ you should ask yourself?! 

Bold or Neutral?

Bright or Dark?

One colour or Multiple colours?

If you are planning on selling your home soon, it is always best to stick with limited, bright, neutral colours. Although bright yellow can really POP and make you excited when you walk into a room it may not give everyone the same feeling. When selling your home you want to appeal to the majority and give your home its best foot forward by keeping it bright making the home feel large and open. Light, neutral colours also allow people to imagine the space to suit them and their furniture. Bold or dark colours can be extremely overwhelming and distracting, you want people to remember the house for the grand staircase and not the royal blue kitchen.

Here's a great (but lengthy) video that goes in depth on neutral paint colours. 

Who is going to be using the space and what for? 

If this is going to be a high traffic space with pets and kids you may want to steer away from white or extremely light colours. For example, light grey or white walls in a boot room, front entrance or along stairs is opening you up to your walls requiring cleaning regularly, getting marked up and looking dirty. 

If you are going to be doing a basement room with the intent of using it for movie night on a regular basis you may want to lean towards a darker colour. On the other hand if you are going to be using the space as your new home office you may want to lean towards bight and light colours to help you with those early mornings and after lunch lows. 


What is the feeling I want when I come in this room? 

Are you looking to be excited or maybe calm down and read a book? Cozy and warm or clean and studio like? Soft, cool and neutral colours typically create a calm a quieter feeling where stronger, bold colours create drama. If it is a child room you may lean towards stimulating bight  paint vs your room you may want pastel or beige to feel cozy and relaxing. 


What else is already in the space? 

It is really important to think about what is already in the room that you may not be able to change without substantial cost or effort. For example in your kitchen you have your cabinets, countertops, appliances, backsplash and door hardware. In washrooms you have vanities, lighting and faucets. In living rooms and all other rooms you may have built-ins, fire places, flooring, trim, doors, hardware and window coverings that all have different colours. You must look at each of these items within the space and consider them unless you intend to change them. It is much easier to match paint to floors and window coverings vs the other way around. We always recommend to take a photo of the space, or even better, if you have a sample piece of trim that you can bring in with you to the paint store. 

Using the kitchen as an example, due to the typically high number of semi permanent variables like your back splash, counters and cabinets. Look around your space and see what colours are already being used, do you have accent colours in your backsplash? Is there a hue or colour theme that is already being used in the space? Is there a hue or colour that you can pull from your counter tops, flooring or backsplash?  


Is there furniture or art that I already own that I want to use within this space?

If you are not replacing your furniture you need to consider it when choosing your new paint colours. Does your furniture already have a style or theme? If it does, this is a great place to start. For example if you have industrial or rustic furniture you can find similar and supporting colour pallets. If your furniture is really dark you may want to pick brighter colors to provide bold contrast in a room. How much you love your art should also come into play, some pieces of art need to be on darker walls to make them pop while other pieces can be more versatile. 

Go online - what’s trending and what is appealing to you and your family

Pintrest is one of the best places to start, you are able to search themes, colours, new ideas and also see what colours are trending! Yes, paint colours have trends! Boho Chic is really popular right now on the feminine side vs industrial or rustic for a more masculine space. 

Pinterest also helps you tie existing colours or furnishings to your new colour. Recent clients of ours had dark brown cabinets and black counter tops, they were at a loss for colour ideas and told us they started off by typing in ‘expresso cabinets and black granite’ and all sorts of kitchens popped up, they were able to scroll through the images to find a space that had similar colours with a paint colour that they liked.  

Another place to look for inspiration is if you are able to find the online picture of your furniture. Most websites have an image of the furniture in a room or space that has been decorated to compliment the furniture. 

Keep in mind colour names are specific to the brand of paint, for example if you like ‘stormy grey’ in Benjamin Moore, if you go to Sico ‘stormy grey’ may be a completely different colour. If you want to use a colour of one brand with a different brand of paint you can typically get a sample or paint swatch and get the store to do a colour match. 

 Lighting is EVERYTHING

Typically the lighting in the store is not going to be the same as the lighting in your home. Also depending on the time of day and how much natural light is in the store the colour can change. You can also paint three walls in one room the exact same colour but depending on what bulbs you have, where the sun is coming in and what else is touching that wall it can look like three different colours. The key take away here is, never trust your memory, always, always see the colour in the space, on the wall, and in multiple different lights. 

One other thing to consider is, if you are planning on changing the light bulbs in your house to a different colour or warmth of light, do so before you choose your paint colour. ‘Cool’ light can give some colours more of a blue where a ‘warm’ light can give a colour more of a yellow or orange tone. 

Learn colour pallets or hue

If you are trying to pick a colour to match an existing space with existing furnishings start with determining the hue of the items that are staying. This will allow you to narrow things down to complimentary colours that are not going to clash against the existing components. 

If you are looking to paint a room with more than one colour, keeping all the colours within the same hue is a safe way to ensure the colours naturally compliment each other. 

Utilizing paint finishes

There are six different finishes to paint: Flat, Matte, Eggshell, Pearl, Satin, Semi-Gloss, High Gloss. There are standard finish uses that you can stick with depending to stay on the safe side:
Ceilings - Flat
Walls - Eggshell
Trim, Doors, Cabinets - Semi-Gloss 

If you want to get really specific you can choose different sheens based on the traffic of the space. Some people use flat paint in low traffic zones vs Eggshell in higher traffic zones. Flat paint allows more pigment to come through and has better coverage and hides imperfections better. High traffic zones where people are more likely to touch the walls (ie stairways) you will see prints left on the walls with flat paint, hence using eggshell or potentially semi-gloss. 

One of our favourite tricks to obtaining a subtle accent is to get the same colour in two different sheens, paint the wall in the lower sheen or more ‘flat’ paint and then paint a pattern or design with the higher gloss paint. This can be done with a variety of shades and colours but is especially good with white! Eggshell and Semi-gloss to be exact. We recently had clients who painted the room in Eggshell and then in the corner of their room they painted some triangles and arrow accent pieces, they were not very noticeable until the light hits them just right! Another great example is stripes, Eggshell and Semi-gloss of the same grey. Very subtle and sophisticated that added that extra touch to really elevate the space. 

Quick tips & Money savers when picking out paint 

Don’t go overboard with all of your supplies. You can get paint trays, drop sheets and decent paint brushes at Dollarma for a fraction of the price of most home improvement stores. Know which products you need to spend a little more on vs others. A lot of DIY'ers will invest in a good brush and a higher quality roller and painters tape, leaving the rest Dollarama! 

Using plastic drop sheets are risky - Plastic drop sheets on the floor can not only be slippery but if you drop too much paint on them, upon the paint drying it can flake off and make a huge mess and potentially still wreck your flooring. 

A few more tips for when your painting

  • Always keep a bit of leftover paint for touch ups and a paint match incase you need to repaint a couple of walls for a refresh or if you plan on selling your home. 
  • Instead of rinsing your brushes out each night or throwing away your rollers, wrap them in a plastic bag or plastic wrap. Make sure they are not too dry, its better they have a good amount of paint on them, this will keep them wet and usable for a couple of days. You can also place them in the cold or freezer to keep the paint longer. Make sure you label each one if you have multiple colours or finishes that are similar so you don't get them mixed up when you start back up again. 
  • DAP is a painters best friend!!! Before you paint your walls and trim use DAP to fill in any gaps or holes. 
  • If you are doing the trim and the walls, start with the trim! It is much easier to cut along the trim line vs the wall line. 
  • Invest in an extender pole vs using a ladder to get to the top half of the wall. If you are trying to limit spending you can typically use the handle of a broom or shovel if it has a removable end. 
  • Invest in a paint cup with a lid. These are great for projects that are going take more than one day and saves you a bunch of clean up and prep time. When you are done for the day pop the lid on the paint cup and warp your brush in a plastic wrap, the next day you open the lid and unwrap your brush and you are good to go! 
  • Don't be sloppy with the paint lid! Place the lid somewhere you will not step on it or if you put it back on the can make sure you tighten it or do something to remind yourself it is not fully on. There is nothing worse than starting your day of painting by shaking your paint, the lid not being tight and paint spilling everywhere!

Good luck and happy painting! Don’t be scared to take a risk as it is one of the safest risks you can take ;) 

Posted by Cody Tritter on
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