Home Decorating and Staging
Insider Secrets to a Beautiful Home

Tips Avoid Color Mistakes

I wrote "Tips Avoid Color Mistakes" because recently I made a big one. Let me show you how easy it was.

I wanted a warm, soft neutral color for the walls of an addition, but was tired of Sherwin Williams Kilim Beige and wanted to try something different. This new room has windows on three sides and lots of sun pouring in all day long. The feeling I wanted was warmth. So I was drawn to the "sunny" or "yellow" color groupings.

I found a lovely warm shade, Sherwin Williams "Sundew." It looked neutral in the paint store. It was definitely in the "yellow" section of colors, but it was such a pretty shade, I decided to ignore that.

Mistake #1 - If it says "yellow," it's "yellow."

Next, I came home and painted a sample on the wall of an adjoining room. This is an interior room with two openings, a skylight, but no direct windows. Looked good to me.

Mistake #2 - Paint the wall sample in the room where you're going to put the paint.

I went ahead and painted the whole room. I though it looked a little yellow, but hoped I could live with it. The next day when the sunlight hit it, it glowed like a lemon drop.

Back to the paint store where I chose Sherwin Williams "Sand Beach," a sandy tan without the strong yellow undertones of "Sundew." "Sundew" is a gorgeous shade, but would severely limit decorating options in the family room, and not a good choice for staging. In staging you want to use a color that will appeal to every buyer.

I painted a sample of "Sand Beach" next to "Sundew" (in the interior room) and was amazed at how gray it appeared. Painted the room anyway and loved it! It was the perfect shade I was looking for. Soft, warm, and neutral.

Pictures of the Process

This is my color sample wall. The top color is "Sundew," and the bottom color is "Sandbeach." Notice how "Sundew" looks perfectly neutral in the darker interior room and "Sandbeach" appears gray?

Paint Samples on Interior Wall of Adjoining Room (Mistake #2)

Family Room Painted SW Sundew

Family Room Repainted SW Sandbeach

Tips Avoid Color Mistakes

Even decorators make mistakes when they get impatient and don't follow their own advice. Here are some tips to help you avoid making the same mistake

  • Pay attention to what "family" of colors your chosen shade is grouped with. If it's in a yellow, or blue, or green section, it will definitely look like it on your walls, no matter how pale or neutral it appears in the store.
  • Take the color chips you like outside and look at them in daylight. The fluorescent lighting in paint stores alters the shade.
  • Paint a sample in the room in which you plan to use the color and see how it looks at different times of the day and at night!
  • If you're painting your home to sell it, use a tried and true color.

If you're decorating for your own pleasure and not planning on selling your home anytime soon, use these tips for avoiding a color mistake as a guideline, but don't be afraid to surround yourself with the colors that you love!

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Alex Hinst is the author of Home Decorating and Staging and owner of Alex Hinst Designs, located in Denver's Historic Highlands.

Alex Hinst Designs has hundreds of success stories in both private and investor home renovations and is dedicated to helping you create your perfect home.