Sometimes it feels as if picking just the right shade of paint can be an elusive task. So many to choose from, where does one begin?  Some common question asked and answered.

If you know you want to paint a room, but don’t have a clue about picking paint colors, where do you start?

A great way to start is to look at a favorite piece of art or your clothing and see if there’s a color theme. You may not put that exact color on the wall, but you can see what colors you are drawn to.

When it comes to selecting color, aren’t there other important factors to consider, such as how much light the room gets?

It really does depend on how much light is in the room. If you’ve got a space with really good natural lighting, you’ve got a lot more options. With rooms that don’t have a lot of lighting or windows, avoid muddy colors, like forest green or deep plum. They tend to make it feel very dreary and cave-like. So for light challenged rooms, go lighter and cleaner with more crisp colors that don’t have a lot of brown or gray undertones in them.

And how do you detect those undertones? It seems like such a mystery…

Gray is a very popular color right now, but there are so many different shades. There are some that look more blue, some that go more green and there are warm grays that start to go into a more taupe color. And if you’re just looking at one color by itself, it’s hard to tell what the undertones are. So gather the different color swatches of grays — or whatever color you’re auditioning — and put them next to each other. That’s when you can really see their undertones. You’ll say, “Oh, this gray looks really green next to that gray.”

That makes a lot of sense. But then how do you know if you want a cooler or warmer shade of a hue?

Think about what the space is going to be used for. Cooler colors are more relaxing and soothing, so if it’s a bedroom or bathroom, I would look to more cooler colors. Warmer colors are more energizing. They get your heart rate up a little faster, so those are good for kitchens, dining rooms and living rooms. But living rooms could go either way, depending on whether you want a relaxing feel or you entertain a lot.

One home decor trend that’s still going strong is white rooms. Do you have any favorite whites?

I like cooler whites that have a touch of gray in them. But if you are going to use a warm white, find one that have the tiniest touch of warmth to it and not too much yellow or peach. Again, the trick is to put a range of white swatches together, and you’ll pick up on the undertones. Once you narrow down your choices, you still have to make sure it works in your room with the colors in it.

How do I know it’s the right color for my room?

Test your color in the room that will be painted. Get poster board or scrap pieces of drywall — a good size piece is at least two feet by two feet — and paint two coats. Then you can move your board around the space, because if you’re going to paint all four walls in the room, the color is going to look different on each wall depending on the light and time of day. Another reason why it’s great to paint samples onto poster board is that you can see where you’ve painted that sample, even after three coats. You don’t want to affect that final finish.

How do I pick the sheen?

Flatter finishes hide imperfections. The disadvantage is that they’re harder to clean. So ceilings are great for flat, because they’re not going to get dirty. For walls, if you’re a little messy or if you have kids or pets, then I would at least do eggshell finish, the next sheen up. It will still hide imperfections pretty well, but you can wipe it up easier than flat. But in rooms like kitchens or with anything that gets a lot of abuse and use, like doors and trim, you want to use a semi-gloss, because it’s more wipeable and cleanable. In rooms with high humidity, like a bathroom, use a semi-gloss to protect from moisture.

Remember always start with colors you love! Painting is a quick way to change your space and make it look new again. Don’t be afraid of a color, it will be lighter than it appears on the paint chip. So go for it!

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Regina DiLauro-Fay has over 15 years of design experience. Her company, DF Designs, specializes in Interior Design, Home Staging & Color Consultanting. She can be reached at (843)906-9663 or