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Color Theory for Choosing Paint

Basic Tips for Picking Paint Colors

The world is a rainbow of hues, shades and tints. Color is everywhere. So how do you choose the right paint color for a front door? Understanding more about color can set you on the right path. And remember, it’s just paint. You can always change it. So what do you have to lose? Be brave, be bold and set your colorful side free!


Do you remember learning the color wheel in elementary art class? As basic as it may seem, this is a very helpful tool in understanding how to mix and blend hues. It can help you customize a basic can of paint.

Every color comes from the 3 primary colors: red, blue and yellow.

Secondary colors are a mix of 2 primary colors. Orange and red makes yellow. Blue and yellow makes green. Red and blue makes violet.

A tertiary color is a mix of 1 primary and 1 secondary color. Green and red makes brown.

TIP: Buy a gallon of basic white paint and use cheap acrylic craft paints to mix your own color. Or use acrylics to tone down or brighten paint. Knowing how to mix colors means you can pick up clearance paint and make it work for you. (Do not use acrylics with oil-based paint).

woman painting on white board red blue yellow color palette wheel
Secondary Colors are a mix of: 2 Primary Colors – A color wheel with orange, green and purple sections extended.
A Tertiary Color is a Mix of 1 Primary Color and 1 Secondary Color – A color wheel.


An easy way to learn is get out some cheap paints and start mixing. Make your own color wheel. This will give you a great understanding of color theory and is a good way to learn.

Use any paint surface (cardboard, canvas board, canvas, heavy paper, etc.). Buy a tube of the 3 primary colors. Don’t spend a lot of money. Acrylic craft paint can be found for less than $1 a tube. Swatch out the basic colors, then start mixing and filling in the wheel!

woman holding canvas of all rainbow colors
woman picking up a foam brush
woman painting with foam brush on canvas


We all want harmony at home, right? Color harmony can help. Wall colors play off each other in different ways. There is no right or wrong, but there are basic concepts that might help you choose a color palette.

green and white bedroom set full length mirror enamel water pitcher on nightstand

First, pick a main hue for focal points. Then add complementary colors. Use the 60/30/10 rule: 60 percent main color, 30 percent secondary color and 10 percent accent colors. There’s an endless number of color combinations. Don’t know what you like? Go outside. Maybe there’s a particular flower or group of flowers growing together that catches your eye.


There’s psychology to color. What you choose reflects personality and effects mood and atmosphere. Blues are calming, tranquil and restful. Rich reds and golds represent traditional taste and stability. Try a color quiz online and find your perfect match.

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