Picking paint color need not be overwhelming
Q: My girlfriend can't decide what color to paint the living room. For months, she's collected hundreds of those cards with the tiny squares on them, and they are taped all over the place! Plus, a bunch of those fan books are scattered all over the floor. She's bought lots of test paint, and the walls look like a crazy quilt. I didn't know there were so many colors, and I don't really care what color we paint. I'm just sick of looking at the mess. We love reading your column and thought you could help us. - J. and B.
A: The first step to choosing a color for any room is to collect ideas, and your girlfriend has certainly done that. I often recommend collecting those same swatch cards. The next step is to narrow the options. Right now, she's looking at the entire rainbow, and that is definitely overwhelming.
Do you have a piece of furniture, art, or an area rug you love in the room? Reduce your choices by looking at color swatches that mostly match those pieces. If your sofa and area rug have lots of colors, too, choose a color that seems to be the background color.
Once you narrow your options to eight or so colors from the same color family, prime the whole wall to neutralize the "quilt" effect. And then tape those color cards to the wall. Look at them at different times of day and night, and note your favorites. Choose two or three to buy in test paint, and paint a large area at least 3 feet square. Try both a corner and next to trim so you can better see how everything will work together.
If you and your girlfriend still can't decide, choose a neutral color such as warm white, tan, or gray, so you'll have a clean-looking living room. Ask at your paint store what their most popular interior colors are, and decide from those. You can always paint again later. The next time you go through this process, it should be easier.
Good luck, and tell me how it goes.
Jennifer Adams is a designer, author, and TV personality. To contact her: