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Selecting Paint Colors For Dummies

Are you familiar with the line of children’s clothing separates called Garanimals? Each item of clothing features a hang-tag depicting one of several animal characters.  The philosophy behind Garanimals is that by making it easy for children to choose coordinated outfits by themselves (by choosing pieces with matching hang-tags), children gain self-confidence.

Well, the ‘Color Harmony Workbook: A Workbook and Guide to Creative Color Combinations’ by Lesa Sawahata is the Garanimals of selecting a color palette because it’s a practical, visual guide that takes the guesswork out of choosing and using color combinations.  Colors and color schemes are matched to specific moods, to help you select the best color combination and large, tear-out swatches of each color combination let you mix, match, and test different hues. Imagine having 1400 color palettes already figured out and at your fingertips!

With your color palette figured out, visit’s ColorSmart System (  Click on ‘Browse Colors’ to get started and view a range of colors in the color family you select.  You’ll then be able to auto-coordinate colors using this tool.

Once you have a few color palettes in mind, learn which paint colors can be shown to their best effect in your home by experimenting:

Bring it home. Don’t make a decision based on how a color looks in the store. Take the sample color card home, cut out the chip you like, and stick it on the wall to see how it looks.

Audition a color. The best way to choose a color is to try out a sample and apply the color to a two-by-two-foot piece of foam board (available at paint centers and art-supply stores). Position the panel in several parts of the room at different times of the day to gauge the changing light.

Make it match (no extra charge). You can have paint custom mixed to match a piece of fabric, carpeting, or wallpaper at many paint stores. For best results, your sample must be a flat item that is of uniform color and is at least 1/2 inch square.

Consult a computer. You can use interactive software to “virtually” paint a model room so you can see how different colors will look. Free software is available online.  Lowe’s Signature Colors Virtual Painter is a great tool.


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