4 paint color tricks of the trade

Over the last 17 years, I’ve witnessed many a future client throw up their hands in frustration because they don’t know where to start when it comes to choosing paint colors. Once I see this happen, I am immediately on mission to equip them with a few tricks of the trade.

I believe choosing paint color doesn’t have to be such a daunting task. That’s why I want to share these same paint color tricks of the trade with you as well!

Every home I choose wall color for, I keep these 4 elements in mind:

  1. Proportion
  2. Contrast
  3. Flow
  4. Interest


Sometimes it’s necessary to perform a trick of the eye in order to create a proportional relationship between small and large spaces.

Here are four examples of how to achieve Proportion:

  1. Small rooms can achieve visual expansion by going with a lighter or softer wall color.
  2. Large rooms can be scaled down by using a deeper or darker wall color.
  3. Long narrow rooms can be shortened by introducing a deeper color to one or both end walls.
  4. High ceilings can be brought down by painting them either the same color as the walls, or painting them a shade or two darker than the walls.


Nothing shows off special details like introducing visual contrast, which will make details show up against their surroundings or background.

Here are two examples of Contrasting:

  1. If you want to highlight a bold accessory or piece of art, choose a neutral or soft wall color to show it off.
  2. If you have a special detail that is on the lighter end of the color spectrum, choose a wall color with more depth in order to highlight it.


Creating visual flow from room to room is the best way to keep the eye focused on the design elements of your home that are most important to you.

Here are two of the best ways to achieve Visual Flow:

  1. Use the same wall color throughout the house.
  2. Choosing 2-3 shades of the same wall color throughout the house.


Creating visual interest with wall color requires moderation, especially when it comes to using a bold wall color. The most important key is that your paint choice and accessories not fight for attention. If the eye must jump around to determine where the focal points are, you may have too many competing elements. (If you’d like to know more about Focal Points, reference this post: How to create the focal point of a room)

Here are two ways to introduce visual interest with paint color:

  1. Painting the entire room, ceiling included, in the same bold color will create a dramatic effect. This often works best with accessories that are high on texture & sheen, and low on pattern & color.
  2. An accent wall is a perfect way to introduce visual interest without committing to painting the entire room in that color. Pair your accent wall color with a neutral so it remains the attention grabber of the room.

Now that you know these 4 tricks of the trade, it is my hope that you feel less overwhelmed and a lot more equipped to face that color chip wall at your favorite paint store!

If you’d like to read more on choosing paint colors, here are a few of my most popular posts:

How to pick a paint palette you’ll love

What type of paint should you use?

10 Home improvements well worth the investment

3 Simple decor changes for a small budget 


🙂 Kim

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