Picking the right paint color for your room is no easy task. Paint company Sherwin William, for instance, offers 147 shades of blue alone, with names like ‘after the rain’ and ‘jay blue.’ Design experts now even have a term for feeling overwhelmed by picking a color: paint paralysis.
If it were up to us to choose a paint color, we’d go with the obvious choice—#FF0083 pink—but we’re a little biased.
Despite the difficulties, not all is lost. We’ve created a step-by-step guide to help you pick the right color for your bedroom, taking into account factors such as your room’s size and lighting conditions.
Take your bedroom size into consideration
We can safely assume that you’d prefer your space to look larger rather than smaller (especially if you live in a closet-sized New York bedroom). So, how can you leverage color to give the illusion of a bigger room?
Use colors with a high portion of white.
White reflects light, which makes your room feel brighter, more airy, and bigger at the same time. Off-whites, light grays, or greens might be the way to go if you’re trying to open up a tiny space.
What if your bedroom is pretty huge, and you want to make it look a bit more personable? (That’s a nice problem to have.) In this case, choosing a darker hue will likely make your room appear cozier, as dark colors absorb more light.
Create one ‘accent wall’
Adding some bright colors to one particular bedroom wall will add a focal point to your room which draws the viewer in and creates the perception of more depth, write the color experts at Benjamin Moore. An accent wall is one of many low-cost apartment makeovers you can try to recharge your living space.
Keep your eye on the sun
Take the direction of your room into account—is it south, east, west or north facing? For a fairly dark, north-facing room, pastel colors would be your best bet to make sure your room gets that extra burst of light.
Additionally, don’t only consider the effect of natural light on your colors, but also any source of artificial light in your bedroom. You would want your room’s colors to shine even under your LED light.
Survey the colors of what you already own
Seems quite obvious, but you should take a good look at all your stuff before you decide on a new wall color. Generally, if you own colorful items—bright carpets, pillowcases, and curtains—it might be best to pair them with more neutral paint colors. The opposite applies as well—if your things are rather plain or conservative, there’s no harm in expressing some more color on your walls (hi there, turquoise accents!).
Approach “color psychology” with skepticism
There’s an endless supply of articles pointing to the effect colors supposedly have on our mood and behavior: blue calms us down, yellow makes us feel happy and cheerful, and red conjures passionate or angry emotions.
However, despite the surplus of anecdotal evidence, there’s a lack of actual scientific research on color psychology. “The web is full of oversimplified psychological theories, misinformation, and bad advice,” writes Brian Cugelman at UX Planet, in a nuanced take-down of some of color psychology’s more dramatic promises. “Many of the color psychology articles are not just invented claims, but they typically follow-up with guidance on how to apply those invented claims. They teach you things that are not real, and then encourage you to adopt practices based on principles that do not exist.”
A big factor that casts doubt on color psychology is that the effect colors have on us is shaped by our personal experiences and culture. For example, in Western culture mourning is associated with the color black, whereas in Eastern cultures it’s associated with the color white.
This is one area where “following the science” might not be worth it. Go with your personal preferences rather than trying to program a mood using psychological tricks.
Don’t fall for flash-in-the-pan trends
We are shaped by what’s fashionable at the moment—no matter how contrarian you are, you likely prefer the trending colors of 2022 over the ones that were fashionable in 2002, simply because you’re more exposed to these trends today.
However, in 5 years time, 2022 will also feel like ancient history. Designer Grant K. Gibson mentions that it’s preferable to choose”‘simple, timeless and classic” wall colors you will like in the long run rather than going with what’s currently au corrant.
Our suggestion? Don’t splurge on gallons of Peri, Pantone’s color of the year 2022, just because it’s hip for a few months.
Look at paint colors IRL (or cheat, with technology)
Pay a visit to your nearest furniture or interior design store to see how certain wall colors feel in person. As with most things, experiencing a color on-screen isn’t quite the same as getting up close with it. Alternatively, go over to a friend’s house whose style you trust and who has already painted their room.
Once you’re more certain about the color direction, you can go to an actual paint store and ask for a sample of your color of choice. This way, you can see how the color responds to the specific lighting of your room. (If you’re extra brave, take an actual paint sample with you and test it on one of your walls.)
If you’d rather do your color-hunting from the comfort of your bed, take advantage of technology.
Use an app (like Project Color or Color Portfolio) to visualize how certain wall colors would look in your home. These apps usually allow you to upload pics of your room and to switch between different wall paint colors.
Before we go…
Whether your walls are painted Peri, Plum, or Psychedelic Purple, you’ll want to protect your place with homeowners insurance. Click below to get started.