If there’s one rule for selecting a paint color for a bedroom it’s that nuance matters. “Great colors for the bedroom aren’t overpowering,” says Kate Duffy of Duffy Scott Interiors in Atlanta, Georgia. She says you can go light or dark but, whatever the hue, it should have warm undertones and a degree of softness that will help keep the space serene. One way she starts the paint color selection journey is by asking her clients what feelings they hope their bedroom to evoke. Sticking with colors that create a sense of peace, calmness, and relaxation are ideal for the bedroom, but if you’re still struggling with where to start, Laura Pankonien of The Pankonien Group in Austin, Texas, suggests enlisting the help of a pro or even social media. “Take a look at Pinterest paint color guides or consult a designer for an hourly fee to choose the perfect color for your space. ” And, whatever you do, once you find the right color don’t try to color match. “If you find a color that you love by a manufacturer, stick with that brand,” advises Duffy. “They are the ones who’ve perfected the color formula and you will get the truest read.” Opt for the highest grade of paint for your budget and you’ll be rewarded with a finish that’s easier to clean and durable, she says.
Here Duffy, Pankonien, and Mary Patton of Houston, Texas-based Mary Patton Design share more tips on finding the best (and worst) paint colors for your bedroom, plus, what to do if you find yourself with a color that isn’t as dreamy as you envisioned.
Paint Color Categories You Should Never Use in a Bedroom
The truth is, a bedroom is a space where you’ll be spending a great deal of time—nearly a quarter of your day—so rather than slipping into the trends, it’s important to select a color you love. Because what appeals to us can be so subjective, it’s impossible to prescribe a list of absolute no-no’s, but designers can agree there are certain color families and traits to steer clear of. The majority of the danger zone colors fall within three major categories:
Grays or Whites with Cool Undertones
Here’s the thing, undertones aren’t to be overlooked. While Duffy suggests moving away from grays or whites, it’s not the whole color family that should be avoided; it’s the ones with cold undertones that could make them seem bluer or “dirty beige,” as the designer puts it. “These colors tend to read as depressing, especially on winter or rainy days,” warns Duffy. Instead, she suggests opting for a soft gray with a warm undertone and pairing it with an accent wallpaper to bring a bit of subtle excitement to the space.
Bright Green, Pink, and Yellow
Brights done right are a magical thing. Think chartreuse, a zing of hot pink, and even canary yellow. But these bold and sightline-seeking hues are typically best left off the bedroom walls. “It’s best to avoid bright greens, pinks, and yellows since the shades intensify with sunlight and artificial light and don’t promote good sleep,” says Pankonien. “Instead, stick with muddier muted versions of the color.”
Deep reds might be coming back in fashion, but do they have a place in the bedroom? Mary Patton of Mary Patton Design says shades of red aren’t well suited for this particular space. Red can often have loud, lively connotations, two things we’re not typically looking for when it comes to creating a bedroom haven. If you feel yourself pulled toward these hues, Patton suggests switching gears, slightly. “I would encourage a client to push it to a warm violet instead.
How To Fix Bad Paint Colors
While you may have avoided the colors prescribed above, that doesn’t mean you are automatically in the clear. Sometimes a paint color just doesn’t translate once light, décor, and other details are all brought together. So, what can you do if you find yourself with a bedroom swathed in a color that just isn’t jiving? Pankonien says the first step is to sit tight and see if the shade looks better at certain times of day. For colors that seem too bold or overpowering, she suggests trying a gallery wall of your favorite art pieces to tone down the impact. “If you’re still hating the color, don’t hesitate to try again with a new shade,” she suggests. “It’s quicker and more budget-friendly to change the paint color than it is to engage in most other decorating projects.”
Before you run out to start looking at even more paint samples, one more trick to try might be the quickest solution yet. “Sometimes something as simple as changing your bulbs from a cool bright white to a warm soft white can dramatically change the way paint color looks in a room,” says Duffy. “Look for bulbs that are 2700k to 3000k.”