How a Shoebox Can Help You Choose Paint Colors

Does choosing a paint color terrify you? Here are few expert tips on how to get it right. The owner of London's Paint & Paper Library and designer of the Stark Paint color palette, David Oliver talks about his favorite color combinations, what he's using in his home, and how to choose the right colors for yours.

What is it about color selection for the home that sends people into a fearful frenzy? Color is one of the most difficult aspects of decoration to get right, as it has as much to do with light as with pigment, and neither are constant. Colors change according to the light that they are in, the surfaces they are laid upon and the method of application. But there are some easy tools and techniques to help predict the way colors behave that make the process of choosing color less stressful.

Use a shoebox to help choose
A common mistake is to choose a color from a small 2D swatch for a 3D room. The shoebox or storage box or any container that can easily be prepared for painting is more realistic, and can help us visualize and re-create the light conditions in a full-scale room. I collect potential fabrics, wallpapers and carpet samples and place them inside to see how they might behave in a room together.

Start with what you like to wear
We all make decorating decisions each day, so I like to begin with trying colors and textures you like wearing. By all means, seek second opinions, but what you like and feel comfortable with will be the most satisfying and successful. No color operates in isolation-it is impossible to pick a wrong one, for all colors can be corrected in combination.

My favorite color combination is yellow/green and gilver (50 percent silver, 50 percent gold) with greige, and my least favorite is scrambled egg solar yellow and navy blue.

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