Help! I’m Having a Problem Picking Paint Colors


What’s Involved in a Paint Color Consultation?


I have received a few questions about how I go about doing a color consultation for my clients. Instead of answering separately, I thought it best to do a blogpost about it…so here goes!


paint brushes with paint


Q: I am having trouble picking some colors for the first floor of my home. Can you tell me how I should prepare for a color consult with you and what should I expect – what’s your process?

Hi – this is a great question. I do things a little differently than some color consultants, so I am glad to tell you a little about my process.

First we’ll start with how you can prepare for it. I will have a phone conversation with you before I come over. I want to know which rooms you are having the most trouble with and I ask you why you think you are finding them difficult. I then ask questions like these…


  • What are the functions of the rooms…who uses them (ages, gender) and at what time of day?
  • What mood would you like to create in these spaces? Peacefulness…romance…happiness?
  • What colors are you most drawn to and what colors are in your wardrobe? Are you more partial to light colors? Do dark colors frighten you?
  • How much (or little) light is there in these rooms? Natural light…incandescent etc?
  • What’s the style of the room – are you happy with that or would you rather an updated look?
  • What are your feelings about the spaces you need help with – does the room feel cramped…too boring…too huge…too long…too short?
  • What flooring (and other items in the room) are staying?


relaxed sage wall in great room

Start pulling images of rooms you love

I then ask you to start pulling some images of rooms that you are really drawn to.  You can pin them to a Pinterest board (best if you share it with me online!) or else you can gather images from magazines and we can go over these rooms when I come for the appointment.

Places you've travelled to and loved can also give you inspiration

Places you’ve travelled to and loved can also give you inspiration

If possible, prior to our meeting, I ask you to send me pictures of the actual rooms you would like my help with.

a before picture of a kitchen before a color consultation

Send me a picture of the room(s) you are having trouble picking a color for

 All of this gives me a great background so I can help you fully.  I need to know as much as I can about your likes and dislikes…what flooring, fabrics are staying and exactly how these rooms are being used, by who and when.

When I arrive for our meeting, I take a walk through the rooms you want me to help you with. I usually will start with the most problematic room (most times it’s the kitchen because it has several finishes and costly items that can’t be changed and need to be considered). I look at the adjacent spaces and jot down ideas about creating flow from one room to the other. I take note of all the flooring and fabrics of items that are staying – and then we sit down to talk.

beautiful wood flooring in a home

Expensive items, like flooring that won’t be changed, needs to be a big consideration in choice of color


If you’ve shared your Pinterest boards with me, I have a really good idea of what you love and what you are going for before I arrive. If not, I look over your inspiration photos and we talk about your dreams for the spaces you want to change in your home. I bring actual samples of painted boards to the meeting and together we examine them to see if they work in your room(s) and if they resonate with you.


I find that a color consultation is best when the outcome is a blend of what the client loves and what works best in the space. I always educate the client in terms of cool colors vs. warm colors…the importance of understanding undertones and the importance of knowing what elements in the room support or negate a particular color choice etc. So I feel that when the client is fully engaged – and understands why some colors work and others don’t – then there’s no problem bringing the color consultation results to fruition in the home. Sometimes (well…a lot of times) a client may love a particular color (let’s say, blue) but the flooring and fabrics and finishes in the room fight with that color. But once the client sees and understands the reasons behind some color choices – they are in full agreement and they are so excited for things to happen!


beuatiful neutral colors in an elegant bedroom

Neutral paint colors in a lovely Master Bedroom


A More Creative Color Consultation Process


Many times I find and specify a Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams color that is perfect for the client. Sometimes, I need to create a custom color – so I take a paint color and add several tints to it to get to the “right color” for the space. A yellow paint that you picked and loved in the paint store (but it’s too primary and bright in your room) may need some tweaking with a violet tint to tone it down a bit. I use my artist’s knowledge to customize a color that is perfect for you and your space.

And then, there are times when I need to create a custom faux finish for a client in order to bring together several disparate items in the room (that’s a topic for another blogpost – which I will do in detail very soon!). When there are several elements in a room that have varying or jarring undertones (many kitchens have this issue), a static paint color will not do. So I create a glaze or a plaster that blends two or three hues together to solve the problem. Decorative finishes (while beautiful in and of themselves) are problem solvers – especially when you have competing undertones (a warm cabinet color and a cool marble or granite) in a space.


custom pearl metallic plaster

A custom pearl plaster was used in this bath because all the static paint colors looked wrong or too boring

custom wall finish in a beautiful guest bath

The antique mirror in this guest bath was the inspiration for the custom wall finish created by The Colorful Bee

But all clients of mine will get a few large samples of the proposed colors – the actual painted versions. You can only make a qualified decision with the real thing – not a small, postage stamp sized photocopy of the color (as in the fan deck).  I advise the client to put these samples in the corners and next to their windows…beside their chairs, sofas, artwork …next to their moldings and flooring etc. I want the client to “love” the color – morning, noon and night. I want my clients to notice how paint colors change from break of day until they go to bed at night. Most clients will be able to tell if these samples are or not “working” in their spaces.

painted samples of paint colors

I always do a follow up with the client to make sure that everything blends and goes with all the elements in their spaces. I recommend qualified and insured painters that I have worked with for many years to do the work. Most clients go with “my guys,” but some have their own painters that they trust to do the painting.

metallic plaster on walls and ceiling

The painters I recommend are neat and they do a perfect job every time. Here we are doing a beautiful metallic plaster in an entryway ceiling and walls

I hope that this helps you. Let me know if this has answered your questions. If you have any other thoughts or questions, please let me know.

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2 Responses to Help! I’m Having a Problem Picking Paint Colors

  1. Scribbler says:

    You do the most wonderfully informative posts. I am looking forward to your photography series to see if I can improve a bit as I am pretty challenged in that area.

    Your work is beautiful.
    Scribbler recently posted..SOME PRETTIES FROM CHINAMy Profile

    • Linda says:

      Thanks so much Ellen. I am going to concentrate a lot on the photography posts – mainly because I will be learning as I go as well! Once again…I so appreciate your comments and being my friend!

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