The colors you choose for the interior of your new home will depend on a number of factors. The purpose of the room, size and dimensions of the room, and how much natural light that room sees throughout the day will play a big role in the paint that you choose.

Function

First and foremost, you should consider the function of the room. Public spaces in your home–like living rooms, dining rooms and family rooms–are places where you will want your guests to feel welcome on special occasions, but where your family members will want to relax on regular days. In rooms like this, paint colors should straddle the line between attractive and homey, formal and comfortable, subtle and sophisticated. Colors like sage green, gray blue and dark beige are all practical colors for these types of rooms because they’re timeless, attractive and likely to match a wide range of furnishings.

However, not all public spaces need to be decorated in this way. The kitchen is possibly the most public room of any house. It is in the kitchen where family members gather to prepare meals, eat snacks, and share stories from the day. Kitchens are often busy, hot, loud places. In this cheerful room, muted tones could seem out of place, and might diminish the energy level of the people in the room. Good colors for the kitchen include coral reds, sky blues and lime greens, to create a cheerful environment that will encourage activity and energy. White is also an appropriate color for kitchens because of its association with cleanliness.

Your bedroom is a place where personal expression should take priority. It is in the bedroom where you should feel free to use colors that match your preferences and personality, but keep in mind that the bedroom is ultimately a place for relaxing and sleeping. Cool colors and soft colors are more likely to create an environment that you can retreat to, while bright colors and warm colors are more likely to excite your emotions and prevent you from truly relaxing. When picking a color for your bedroom, you may wish to make a list of your favorite cool colors, and choose the hue from among those.

For other bedrooms in the house, you’ll want to take into account the occupant. Guest bedrooms should be painted in relaxing cool colors, to create a comfortable, peaceful environment for your guests, while bedrooms for children are usually painted in very bright hues, to stimulate activity and thought. Children who are old enough should be given some choice about the colors in their room, but prudent parents would be wise to allow their children to choose from a list, rather than giving their children freedom to choose whatever they wish. For children who are already excitable, muted colors might be more appropriate.

Size

The size and dimensions of a room play a huge role in the right paint color for that room. Even more important, however, is the the value (or, degree of lightness or darkness) of those colors. In general, light colors push walls back and open up space, while dark colors create intimacy in a room, and bring the walls closer together. Dark colors are best for large rooms with tall ceilings and a lot of natural light. Light colors are best for small rooms and rooms without a lot of natural light.

Sometimes people like to paint a room with more than one color. Accent walls are very popular and very useful for obscuring the dimensions of a room, or for the purposes of establishing a color scheme. Sometimes accent walls are used in small rooms to make a small space seem larger, or at least, different than what it really is. However, using more than one color in a small room can sometimes make the room seem busy and visually cluttered. Clutter should be avoided in small rooms–they make them seem smaller. For most small rooms, it’s best to limit the color on the walls to one color and a trim, usually a neutral like white or cream. If you’re bent on painting an accent wall in a small room, choose low-contrast colors that won’t draw as much attention to the walls.

Large rooms are different. If you wish to paint an accent wall or some other graphic such as a stripe, large rooms make the perfect canvas. If painting a room in multiple colors, choose colors that have a relationship to one another on the color wheel, or colors that are inspired by color combinations found in nature.

If a room has disproportionately high ceilings, the color of the ceiling may be brought down over a segment of the walls to make the ceiling seem lower. If a room has a strange nook or built-in shelving, that area of the room may be painted in a different color to draw attention to the room’s unique craftsmanship.

Tips on Selecting Paint Colors

Choosing interior paint colors for a new home is an important decision, and one that you’re likely to live with for years to come. Avoid choosing colors that are trendy. Sometimes homeowners paint their walls white or cream just to be on the safe side, but this choice can make the rooms of your home seem impersonal.

If you’re nervous about applying color to your walls, approach the matter in a practical way. Start by choosing a variety of swatches that you like from your local home improvement store. Narrow down your choices by eliminating colors, first based on what is appropriate for the room you’re painting, then based on the size and dimensions of the room. Once you’ve selected three or four colors that you like, paint a sample (about two feet by two feet) of each color on the wall. Wait for the paint to dry before you make your final choice.

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