Choosing the perfect paint colour for your home can be incredibly tricky. There are so many variables!
- Surrounding colours, like the flooring, backsplash, trim, and furniture. (what undertone does that wood floor have anyway?)
- Lighting (is there a lot of natural light, or do you rely on lighting solutions? Are the bulbs warm or cool?)
- The texture (plaster walls with a lot of texture cast shadows, which changes the way you perceive the colour of the paint... or if you paint a popcorn ceiling and a smooth wall the same colour, the ceiling will always look darker, because there are so many shadows in the texture)
- The area that you're painting (if you're doing a glossy paint sheen because it's in a bathroom or kitchen, the shade of the colour may appear more intense, especially in dark colours)
Not to mention it's difficult to pick any pastel shade, because you have to detect the underlying colour in that perfect off-white. (Is it cool? Does it have more green than yellow in it? How neutral is it really? Is that greige?!)
You can use online room visualizers, but they often end up looking cheesy because the cookie cutter AI doesn't account for reflections, shadows, or lighting very well.
You could go buy a bunch of sample cans and paint squares all over your walls, but visualizing what a small square of paint will look like stretched over a huge area is hard to do. (Usually off-whites look brighter than you expect and medium toned colours look darker than you'd expect.) Maybe you paint large pieces of cardboard instead to help spread it a little further... but how many paint sample cans are you gonna buy before you get the right one?! How much time are you going to spend moving your cardboard around the house and stressing about if it's right? And if the colour does look off to you... do you know why?
You're definitely not alone if you find it difficult to simply imagine what a colour is going to look like. In fact, research has been done that proves we CAN'T remember colour. Which means when we close our eyes to try and visualize, it just won't work. Our brains are efficient and lump our colour memories into more generic colours.
So we NEED to visualize the colour somehow. My favourite way to do this is by using Photoshop. This is because you can see what the colour will look like on YOUR walls and in YOUR lighting. And you can paint the entire wall, not just a small piece. AND you can do it without even buying a sample!
How is Photoshop different than the room visualizers? Well, let me show you.
This image was done with an online colour visualizer. The tool only allowed for a square image, so the photo had to be cropped. Because the lighting in the room does not have a ton of natural light, the visualizer had trouble picking up on where to "paint." It may not seem so bad since you're just looking for a quick visual... but look at the image that I photoshopped below and and you'll be able to see how different the colour looks.
The above image is my photoshopped colour choices, along with some other photoshopped elements to put the whole room together (another bonus of photoshop is that when I show concept decor items for a room, you can see them in your space before you even go buy items that look similar! Good luck finding a visualizer to do that!)
And the above image is the actual photo when the painting was done. On the colour visualizer the black looked far more blue than it actually is, and the white way brighter. The automatic colour visualizer cannot account for lighting. In photoshop, I can adjust the settings to accommodate a variety of different lighting.
One of the ways that I like to do this is by taking a photo of a piece of blank white paper over whatever it is that I want to pull a colour tone from. You can see in the example above what the flooring can look like under different lighting. So what I would do is adjust the image until the paper is as close to a true white as possible (the middle image) which will allow me to see what the flooring actually looks like in natural lighting. Then when I choose paint colours to go with the flooring, I won't be misled by the lighting. When you are looking at colour swatches online, the shades are in perfect natural light. You have to adjust the colour to accommodate the lighting. So in my examples of the bedroom a dark shade (allllmost black) was chosen. In the colour visualizing tool, the undertone of blue showed up WAY MORE than it does in real life because of the warm tones in the room.
Another great thing about using photoshop when choosing paint colours? I can change the colour 1000 times in the click of a button once the setup is done. And once you see the paint colour you want, I use Photoshop to colour match it to whatever paint company you want to use. No driving back and forth between stores to compare their swatches!
Is photoshop going to be perfect? No. But it's definitely the best tool I've used. When I do a digital colour consult for a client, it is my go-to tool. I can create colour palettes to show you how the other features in your home will go with your wall colour. I can pick out the undertones in a tricky neutral floor. I can adjust for your lighting. It saves you money on paint sample cans and the time it takes to go to the store, paint your wall, waiiiiiiit for it to dry, and pull your hair out wondering if that little splash on the wall is the right colour.