Choosing Paint Colors
for That Perfect Color Scheme

Choosing paint colors is an important preliminary step for any painting project. Color is often the first thing a person sees when they approach a house or enter a room.

A well coordinated paint color scheme can make a great first impression and add value to your home.

Selecting paint colors is also a way to express your sense of style. Even though color preferences are somewhat subjective, there are certain guidelines that should be considered. Ultimately, paint color schemes should be both pleasing to you as well as others.


Home Owners, Architects, Interior Designers, and Painting Contractors often use color fan decks for the color selection process. A typical paint color deck contains hundreds of colors ranging throughout the entire color spectrum.

Many paint manufacturers also have a proprietary color system represented by a corresponding fan deck. With an assortment of fan decks, there are literally thousands of different colors available.

Color fan decks are largely made up of custom colors consisting of pastels, medium colors, deep colors, and ultra deep colors. There is often a correlation between colors on a particular leaf within a color deck. Paint color decks also include a section of off white colors. Off whites are widely used and many of them are available as ready- mixed colors. The paint suppliers also have additional color charts, many having pre designed color schemes.

A typical color fan deck contains more than one thousand color variations. With so many choices, the task of choosing paint colors can be overwhelming for many people. The subtle nuances among many of the colors can add to the confusion. The majority of paint colors offered by the paint suppliers are useless and should be eliminated from the color selection process.

In most cases, final color selections should not be decided upon solely looking at a color fan deck. The color leaves in the fan decks are printed with ink and they always have slight variations from the actual paint. They are also small, which makes it extremely difficult to get the true visual effect that you should have. Once you narrow down your choices, it is very helpful to make actual paint color samples.


Color theory takes a technical look at colors and their relationship with one another. Color associations are easier to visualize with a color wheel. Even though the pure colors found on a color wheel are probably not the actual colors you would choose, you can gain some insight about paint color combinations. This can be helpful while navigating through the hundreds of paint colors within a typical color fan deck.

This section on color theory also includes some commonly used terms to describe dimensions of color.


The psychology of color is a very complex subject that plays a major role in many industries. Extensive studies have been conducted to determine the effects of color upon individuals. Within the scope of interior design and architectural design, different colors can produce different emotional responses. This is a concept to consider when designing a color scheme.


Deciding on interior paint colors can be a daunting task. If you are uncertain about exactly what you want, decorating books and magazines can be a useful resource. You can find many well designed interior paint color combinations. Pictures are generally not accurate representations of color but they do offer a look and feel. This can be a good first step.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing paint colors for a room:

  • Function of the room
  • Proportions of the room
  • Color continuity
  • Lighting
  • Permanent architectural features
  • decorative elements

Paint colors that blend with both the permanent features and decorative  elements within a room can produce a nice interior color scheme.


Selecting the right exterior house paint colors can create a positive impact. When choosing paint colors, consider the following elements, as they might influence your final decision.

  • Architectural design
  • Landscape elements
  • Background features
  • Geographical location
  • Covenants and restrictions

House paint colors should not necessarily be selected solely by personal preference. Find the paint colors that best represent the architectural style of your house and harmonize with your surroundings.

Final Thoughts

Even though choosing paint colors can seem cumbersome, the time it takes to develop the right color scheme is time well spent.

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Professional Painting, Inc. is a full service painting company serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1988.