• Debbie DeMarais

How to Pick a Personalized Paint Color (That Will Make You Happy)

Spring means renewal. And in the interior design world, renewal often means repainting. As an interior designer, I help my clients choose the right paint colors—ones that will not only refresh a space, but also help them love their home and feel happy every time they step into a room.

Today I’m sharing some of the same advice I give to my interior design clients. If you’re thinking of repainting this spring, but don’t know which colors to choose, I’ll walk you through it so you can find colors you will love.

Interior paint color chip book displayed in a fan pattern

Should I go with a “Color of the Year”?


The short answer here is, “Probably not.”

Paint and design companies choose their Color of the Year (COTY) based on everything from current fashion trends to worldwide sporting events. Their color experts spend months poring over cultural movements, societal shifts, and new technologies. They look at recent films, contemporary art, even trending travel destinations. Then they settle on a color they feel will define the feel and mood of the upcoming year.

Look at this year's picks for COTY. Taking into consideration the tumult of last year, some paint and design companies have gone with shades they consider to be all about renewal with bright, vibrant shades. Others went with a grounding, serene feel with colors that are cozy and muted. And then you have Pantone—possibly the best known Color of the Year pick—they went with both! For 2021, they chose a grounding grey and an uplifting yellow.


You are not everyone


There’s nothing wrong with a COTY announcement. In fact, these color selections can help those who might feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices (sound familiar?). People might feel more confident going with a paint shade they know color experts have put thought into. And inspire people, who might not otherwise, branch out from basic white.


Unfortunately, a COTY is trying to be one color for all people. A shade that takes into account everything globally isn’t necessarily a shade that speaks to you personally. So unless you see a brand’s color pick and immediately feel drawn to it, I suggest coming at your color selection from a personal level.


Evoking happiness with color


Sometimes when working on a color consultation I’ll ask my clients to think of a happy memory. It could be as simple as a place you like to take walks, or as elaborate as a long ago childhood vacation. Is there a color that keys into those recollections? The blue of the water when your family visited the sea. The orange of the sunset from a trip to Australia. The green of the aspens where you like to go hiking.

If my clients have a hard time discovering a remembered color, I’ll often suggest looking at the cache of memories they carry with them daily—their phones. We take pictures more than ever, and an image that captures something that makes you happy can offer a wealth of color cues.


Bright blue kitchen cabinets with patterned blue tile in modern kitchen remodel
A recent remote client loved blue and we worked together across two states to design this lovely kitchen update.

Discover pre-made color palettes


Two sources that inspire great interior paint choices (and often come complete with main colors and accents colors) are nature and art. If you’ve seen an image of a natural scene that makes you feel calm or energized, peaceful or renewed, that image can inspire personalized color picks.

Check out my post on finding color palettes inspired by the beauty of the Southwest.


If there’s a piece of art you love, that can present options for the right paint colors too.


Going from inspiration to paint chip


Once you’ve found your inspiration—head to the paint store. Armed with inspirational images on your phone or prints, measure and compare these colors to paint chips. Keep looking until you find that shade that sparks the same feeling as that memory.

While you shouldn’t avoid a paint brand’s Color of the Year, when you have your own personal inspirational cues, you’ll find something that works specifically for you. And few things will make you happier when you finally roll that paint color on the wall.


Could you use a hand matching inspiration to a paint chip?


My Color Consultation service will help you go from ideas, memories, and likes to a color that’ll transform your room. Get in touch for a consultation today.