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Fan Decks: Seven Ways To Pick The Perfect Colors For Your Home

Fan Decks: Seven Ways To Pick The Perfect Colors For Your Home

Published on  by Suzanne Mueller

First off, I love color. When we moved to the Seattle area I cringed looking at houses. They all had what my husband called “dead rat color schemes.” It didn’t make sense that in a climate that was grey a lot of the year, people also painted the inside of their homes grey. In our new home I wanted a color for every room, until I found out the cost! So the whole house was painted a very creamy yellow and I started to slowly but surely paint each room myself.

Did I just know what color I wanted, drive to the paint store, pick it out and go? No! Picking the right paint color for the right room is an imperfect science. The paint companies don’t help, there are hundreds of colors, confusing names, the lighting at the store is not right and, and, and. So what did I do? I purchased a full paint fan deck the professional painters use. Specifically, the fan deck with a brand’s entire range of colors, not the small “designer’s colors” one or the pre-matched color one. It gives you a wide range of choices and most importantly brings a science to picking colors.

  1. Pick the color family, like green, you want to work with and then start looking at those colors in the deck. The paint fan actually works like a color wheel. Go one way in the deck and the greens keep getting bluer, go the other way and they get more yellow.
  2. Pick a few pages of the fan that have colors you like and look at all the colors on those pages. Each fan page has 4-6 colors on it and they are all the same color, just lighter to darker. So if you like the middle color, also get the one right above it as the paint dries darker than it looks on the wheel."
  3. Hold the fan deck up vertically to look at the color, don’t look down at it. That’s not how the paint will be on your wall when all is done.
  4. Refer to the fan pages when in the room you want to paint so you are working with the lighting that will be in the room with the paint.
  5. Pick three colors you like (not all from the same page, see number 3 above).
  6. Paint two foot square samples on your wall (or you can paint poster board and look at it). Make sure each has two coats since that changes the color on the wall. Look at in both sunlight and when the sun is down and the lights are on it the room.
  7. You will probably hate one, one will be okay and one will be close. See if the close one is just too light or dark and then pick the next one on the fan page in the light or dark direction. If not, here’s the secret sauce, to pick the next few samples move the other way in the deck from the one you hated. If the one you hated was towards the blue side move to the yellow side to choose again and repeat the process.

For each of my rooms I probably bought a dozen samples and tried each one out before I picked a color. Thank goodness there are now smaller sample cans so I didn’t have to buy a million quarts. That was ten years ago. We now have a rust bonus room, a maize children’s bathroom, a lime green girls bedroom, a blush powder room, a khaki den….you get the idea. The creamy yellow actually makes for a great neutral ceiling color BTW. And for all those designeristas out there, it all flows well and actually works together (more on that another time).

How do you pick your paint colors? What colors have you used that you love? So now I want a red dining room. Had one before, just hadn’t gotten around to it yet here. I’ll write more later on the trials and tribulations of red!


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