Paint colors and paint swatches sitting on a table with a paint brush.

When choosing the paint colors you want to use for your next painting job, you've got to be sure to make the right choice. There's a lot to take into account, from complementary colors to color psychology - and it can get really complicated really fast.

With that in mind, we're going to break down some of the theory behind color and give you an idea of what will serve you well and what you'd do best to avoid.

Color Theory

We're sure you've heard of the color wheel, so we're going to get a little in-depth with this after a brief explanation.

The spectrum of color in paint and pigments is traditionally based on the colors Red, Yellow and Blue. From these three colors, all other colors can be created (except for a perfect black, but we'll get to that). These are called your primary colors.

Mixing any of these two together in equal parts will get you a secondary color. The secondary colors are Purple (Red and Blue), Orange (Yellow and Red) and Green (Blue and Yellow).

This is seeming really simple so far, but we want to break it down before we get farther.

Then, from this you can mix the secondary and primary colors to get your tertiary colors, giving you 12 total colors on the color wheel.

Colors and Color Palettes

Now we're getting into the specifics of things. A color palette is a collection of colors that are being used for a project. There are a ton of palettes you can make, but most of the ones that produce a harmonious look are based on a few different formulas.

Complementary Colors

A complementary color scheme is based on two colors that are directly across from each-other on the color wheel. An example of this is, say, Red and Green, or Yellow and Purple. These are colors that are really strong together – almost to a point that they vibrate visually. With a complementary color scheme, it's best if you make sure that the colors are different saturation levels when using them together.

Analogous Colors

An analogous color scheme is based off of any three colors that are directly side-by-side on the color wheel. So, pulling from Red, this would be Red, Red-Purple and Red-Orange. It's usually best to pick a dominant color to stick with, and use the other two as accents.

Monochromatic Color Palette

The monochromatic color palette is based off of tints and shades of one color. Because you only need to focus on changing how much white or black is in the color you're using, these are probably the easier palettes to get used to. When done poorly, however, they can get boring. In this case, it's best to add a strong neutral such as black or white.

Triadic Color Palette

The triadic color palette is made up of three major hues that are equally spaced around the color wheel. This produces a diverse, interesting color scheme that can be a bit harder to do right, however.

In short, the more base colors you add to a color palette, the more difficult it gets to manage.

Color Psychology

Colors can affect our mood, give off certain signals, and even change how we feel about a room or home. It's important to keep in mind what color associations people have when painting a room or exterior. Here are a few colors and how people associate with them. Keep in mind that all color associations tend to be culture-dependant.


Red is seen as a confident, exciting color. It's also one of the most stimulating color, and can bring a cheerful sense to a room. Be careful with the red you use, however, as a bright red can be seen as aggressive.


Yellow is another exciting color, though it tends to be seen as more optimistic and happy. When you change the hue of yellow, you're also bringing down some of the excitement – so a pastel yellow can bring a nice, happy feeling to a room without bombarding the eyes.


Blue is a calming color that many associate with dependability. It can also be seen as depressing, however, and the deeper it gets the more depressing it can be seen. Again, the effect is based on the hue and tone.


Seen as dramatic or quiet, depending on its shade, it can add richness to a space or drama to an otherwise simple room. A few well-placed accents can add a whole new look to your surroundings.


Orange is one of the most energetic colors. It does have a reputation for being overwhelming, but some variations can be downright relaxing, such as terracotta or apricot.


Green is a cool, soothing color that feels almost fresh. It is associated with nature and plant life, and can bring a spot of calming to a room that otherwise wouldn't have it.

What Colors to Paint Your House

Wondering what colors to paint your house in order to keep value up? Always remember that what's "in" right now will be different every few years or so, but with that in mind, here is a list of a couple colors you should consider. According to a Zillow analysis from 2017, these colors will help keep your home value up:

Blue for a Kitchen

Soft, gray-blue can bring your home's value up by 1,809 dollars, according to the Zillow analysis.

A Brown Living Room

A brown living room such as a light beige or oatmeal color can sell for up to 1,926 dollars more than you might get otherwise!

"Greige" Exteriors

Your home's exterior color can have a huge impact on your sale price. Greige is a mix of a light gray and a beige, and can sell for over 3,000 dollars more than a similar home painted in a tan stucco or medium brown.

Navy Blue Front Door

Here's the kicker! A navy blue front door adds a fantastic pop of color and can mean over 1,500 dollars more value for your home.

You can see that there is a lot to color. Don't get overwhelmed! It can be a lot of fun when you get down to it, and if you need help with it, contact us!