Painting your home is a minor job compared to other renovations, but the wall and trim colors you choose can have a major impact on how you use your space. Your color and finish choices will make a bold statement, so choose wisely.

Color is the first thing you perceive when you enter a space, which means you’re evoking a mood from the very moment someone enters. When selecting color, think about these properties and how they will interact with light — and each other.

Saturation: Higher saturation can crank up the effect of even a moderate tone, while lightly saturated variants of bright colors dial it back.

Tone and hue: Even within a broader color range, different shades set different moods. A cool forest green creates a restful bedroom feeling, while olive gives the impression of militaristic productivity.

Contrasting colors: Remember the color wheel from grade school? It’s important for more reasons than just “yellow and blue make green.” Colors from across the wheel can complement each other, which is why warm shades such as yellow or orange provide a striking look when paired with complements like green or purple.

Surfaces: The texture of surfaces impacts the appearance of color. Rough walls appear darker than smooth walls.


Room size: Darker colors tend to contract the size of a room, while lighter colors make it look more expansive. Keep this in mind so you don’t accidentally create a small, claustrophobic black room, or a large white room that seems infinite.

Picking the best finish

Choosing a paint finish might seem much less important that picking the color, but it makes a difference. More reflective finishes create a brighter, bolder and more stimulating look, even when the underlying color is the same.

Flat: A common matte finish that doesn’t reflect much light. It hides imperfections but also creates a low color saturation. It tends to have a generic, neutral look, and you need to be careful when cleaning it so as not to lose color.

Eggshell: Though still a matte finish, it gives an understated shine. Eggshell cleans more easily than flat, but you should still be cautious when cleaning it.

Satin: This offers a balance point between high-gloss and flat, with a smooth and attractive surface. It’s easily washable and stands up well to high levels of humidity. Satin works well in kitchens and bathrooms.

Semigloss/high gloss: These finishes are at the high end of reflectiveness. They provide a lovely sheen, but imperfections in your wall will stand out. If you don’t want to paint the entire wall with a gloss finish, consider using it for baseboards, trims, or other accent possibilities.