Standing in front of a paint chip display can be overwhelming. There are literally millions of paint colors in the world to choose from. How do you choose the perfect paint color for furniture?
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We’re convinced part of the appeal of these boutique paint lines is that the color palette is already curated. Choosing among 50 paint colors is far more manageable and the chances of going wrong are minimized. But, for reasons we’ve written about before, we prefer to stay away from these high priced options.
Below we’ll canvass some things you can consider to help you choose the right color for your next furniture painting project.
1, The style of the piece
Here’s the deal with style and color: I don’t actually think any color is off limits for any style of furniture. A french provincial buffet done in a bright, bold color can be stunning. Similarly, a mid century modern piece in a deep heritage color is also gorgeous.
To prove my point, check out this gorgeous coral french provincial dresser from Second Chance Studios.
The unexpected deep green on these mid century modern side tables by Maggie Overby Studios is also a knockout.
While I firmly believe no color is off limits for any style, there are limitations on the painting techniques you should use with certain styles. Please, I beg you, do not ever distress, antique or dark wax a mcm or art deco piece!
Now that we’ve established your particular piece of furniture does not limit your color choice, let’s look at some ways to narrow down the almost infinite world of paint color choices out there.
2. Where the piece will soon call home
The style of your piece does not limit your paint color but the style of the space where the piece will eventually live does. If you have a bold color already in the room, it is better to go more neutral with your new piece.
By contrast, if the rest of your space is fairly neutral, you can go bolder with your furniture paint color. How bold? A general rule of thumb is the smaller the piece, the bolder it can be without becoming overwhelming.
This gorgeous room by Sonya Kinkade is fairly neutral. You can see how the bright green painted dresser really pops and adds interest and depth to the room.
By contrast, the bold feature wall in this office is complemented by the neutral white and grey painted desk as seen on Trulia. The star here is the wall, and the desk is meant to compliment it, not compete.
If you aren’t painting a piece for your space or that of a particular client – yipee, you’ve got carte blanche! You can choose the style you want to create. You should, however, keep in mind what works best for flipping furniture if your goal is a quick sale for maximum profit (read more about that here).
3. Online tools
Another great way to narrow down your color choices and get a sense of what your painted piece could look like, you can use free online color visualizers. This technology has come a long way in recent years. You can now get a pretty good sense of the potential color on your piece.
We tend to use Benjamin Moore’s Personal Color Viewer because we use a lot of Benjamin Moore paint. You do have to create an online account but it is pretty quick to do. Once you’re signed in, you can upload a photo of you furniture and define the area you want to color.
Below is a screenshot of a side table I wanted to see in another color. The area to be colored is defined in green – the green is NOT a color I was considering!
Once the area is defined, you search for BM paint colors and apply them to the area. Here I was experimenting with different light blue/greens.
This tool is most powerful if you can take a photo of the piece in the space it will eventually live in since it will give you the best sense of how the color will work with its surroundings.
If you paint furniture to sell, you might also want to consider investing in one of these by Pantone to help you select a color.
3. Other people’s projects
If you don’t even know where to start with choosing a color, the best place to look for inspiration is online.
In particular, I recommend Pinterest. Just type in the search tool “painted” + the name of the piece e.g. “french provincial dresser” and you’ll get thousands of beautiful photos to scroll through. Even if a particular piece you admire doesn’t specify the exact color used to create it, it still gives you a good idea of what to look for at the paint store.
You can also take the picture to the paint store and an associate with a fan deck can help guide you in the right direction.
Some serious color inspiration
Below we’ve gathered a few painted pieces we admire, along with the name of the color, to give you even more color ideas and help you pick that perfect paint color for furniture.
This vibrant coral from Petticoat Junktion looks awesome on a vintage 70s dresser. The color is Rose Heartstring by Glidden.
Another poppy color, General Finishes’ Persimmon, looks fantastic on this mid century modern dresser by The Weathered Door.
Sherwin Williams sedate grey is the perfect glam-neutral color for this dated dresser makeover by Live Love DIY.
For a perfect calm, vintage color, try Behr’s Gray Morning like this dresser revival by Confessions of a Serial DIYer.
Finally, one of my all time favorite colors – Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy. If you follow us you’ve definitely seen us use this before! These charming mid century side tables are a classic (you can see the full makeover here).
We hope we’ve given you some guidance when it comes to choosing the perfect paint color for furniture. Try not to get too hung up on the “right” color. There are so many beautiful colors out there and if you choose one that YOU love, it’s hard to go wrong. And even if you do go wrong, it’s just paint! Your perfect color may just be a few more coats away.
Do you have favorite “go to” colors for painting furniture? What are they? Please share below, we’re always looking to expand our palette!