If you have the perfect linens or draperies, use your fabric as a starting point when selecting paint. Simply take a fabric swatch (from a sofa or draperies) to the paint store. Look for paint chips that pull out the different hues in the fabric. The paint color doesn’t have to match the fabric exactly — in fact, if the wall color is slightly lighter or slightly darker than the color in the fabric, the results will seem “evolved” but harmonious.
The major exception is when the wall color and draperies match exactly. This approach enlarges a room by creating an unbroken envelope of color while softening the walls with dimension and depth.
To match a solid-color fabric exactly, take a swatch to the paint store or home improvement center; there, a spectrometer, which measures heat and light can translate the fabric hue into a formula for matching paint. This will only work on solid fabric, however.
Choosing a darker tone for the walls makes light-color upholstery pop by contrast, and creates a more dramatic environment. If the draperies match the paint or are close to the same shade, the walls and draperies work together to form a consistent background, and the sofa stands out as a focal point. If you choose a lighter color for the draperies, then the darker wall color will draw more attention to the windows.
As you narrow your choices, remember that a paint chip is only a general indication of how a color may look on the walls.
Editor’s Tip: Always test the color on the wall, or on a large piece of poster board, then view it in daylight and at night to see if the color is right.
If you’re considering neutrals, particularly for a large
room, test a hue that’s one or two shades stronger than the one you
really like. Neutrals tend to become too bland in large spaces, so
deeper tones will help punch up the room’s personality.
Keep in mind your walls’ texture too. Rough surfaces, such as stucco or
brick, do not reflect as much light as smooth walls, so they’ll look
darker than smooth walls painted the same color.
Editor’s Tip: Remember to keep in mind that soft pastels will
look vastly different in natural versus incandescent light. Try
painting a patch of several shades before committing to your color.
You’ll ensure that the results meet your expectations.