How to Choose Paint Colors
How to Choose Paint Colors for Your Basement
When adding drywall to an unfinished basement, or when sprucing up your basement in preparation for a home sale, the question arises: what color paints should you choose? Basements are often approached as special cases when painting, as they typically feature low ceilings and a paucity of natural light. While this is often true, the intuitive tactic of painting every room a light color is not always the best solution. Learning how to choose paint colors for your basement requires a consideration of what makes paint colors stand out in given lighting setups.
Choosing Paint Colors
Lean towards rich, deeply saturated paint colors.It is a common misconception that dark rooms should be painted light colors. In fact, light colors need an abundance of light to realize their potential; otherwise they tend to look drab, dull, and even dirty. The best way to counter the low light levels in a basement is by painting with rich, deep hues.
- Basement paint colors do not necessarily need to be dark, but they should be richly saturated. So, a highly saturated, medium-toned turquoise will often perform better than a dark-toned gray paint.
- If you prefer neutral colors, like beige or gray, choose a slightly richer shade, like a chocolate brown or deep slate, instead.
Paint your basement with lighter colors only in spaces that receive abundant light.The more light a room receives, the better the paint will look regardless of color. This gives you more options in brighter rooms. Near windows and in rooms with plenty of electric light, you can use whites and off-whites as well as rich colors or dark tones.
Pick the right sheen.Choosing the right sheen is an important part of choosing your basement paint. The type of sheen can determine how light reflects off your painted walls (an especially important consideration for a basement), how visible imperfections in the walls are, and also how easy it will be to keep the space looking clean.
- If your basement is damp and tends be affected by mold, choose a satin paint finish. These kinds of paints can withstand moisture better than other types.
- Avoid matte paints. Matte paints are harder to clean, and they won't reflect light, which will make your basement seem darker.
Coordinate colors with existing materials.How your basement is currently finished will, in some ways, determine what colors you should paint the space. For instance, if you have exposed brick walls, you might want to consider painting the adjacent wall a cool, refreshing color like mint green or pale blue.
- For rooms with finished drywall walls and carpeted floors, richer colors would be more appropriate.
- Consider creating contrast by pairing dark floors with a lighter wall color.
Choose a light neutral for the ceiling.Basements usually have low ceilings, which can dim the room. To help lighten up the room, choose a bright or lighter shade. White, bright beige, or a soft pale yellow can be good choices.
- Avoid dark or rich colors like black, dark blue, deep slate, or rich brown.
Evaluating Your Basement Lighting
Evaluate the amount of light your basement receives.The often overlooked but crucial step in determining how a paint color will look is assessing the lighting. If your basement receives little sunlight and has a generally dim electric light setup, it will actually be very difficult to get light paint colors to look appealing. Instead, they tend to look dingy and dull.
- Darker rooms need more richly saturated paint colors to prevent them from looking darker and less inviting.
Invest in additional lighting.If your basement is rather dark and you have the time and money and want to make your basement look spectacular, consider investing in additional lighting. Recessed lighting has long been the favored choice for basements, and if you already have recessed lights you can simply add more.
Consider changing light.Remember that the amount of light your space receives will vary depending on the time of day, the season, and the current weather conditions. Of course, there’s no way to change that. But you can keep that in mind when deciding what kind of paint you choose and how much additional lighting you may need.
- If your space is darker in the winter months because of the decreased natural light, you might want to consider using richly saturated paint colors combined with additional lighting that you can use when needed.
- Trade warm-colored bulbs for white LED lights. These LEDs can brighten up the room and give off more light while saving on energy costs.
Remove light-blocking walls.If your basement has windows along one or more walls, you can encourage the spread of natural light by removing any walls blocking the windows from other rooms.
- These partitioned walls can often make a space feel more closed off.
- Of course, be careful not to remove any important load-bearing walls. Consult a structural engineer before making any decisions to remove walls.
Coordinating With Your Existing Décor
Consider your existing furniture.Of course, you likely aren't willing to discard your existing furniture and décor when painting. This means that choosing colors will be constrained by the colors in your existing pieces.
- Think about the hues of your furniture pieces and what colors would go well with them. Light blues and greens, for example, pair nicely with furniture in dark and rich shades.
Coordinate paint colors with your decorative accents.In addition to your existing furniture, you’ll need to consider what decorative items you’ll be putting in the basement. You don’t want to have to purchase all new items just to match the paint color you choose.
- If you’re using neutral paint colors like taupe or beige, a great way to add some excitement and color is through your accents. Throw a brightly colored pillow on the couch or include a colorful piece of artwork on the wall.
Cater to potential buyers.Even if you aren’t planning on moving any time soon, you should try to consider what a potential future buyer might think of your renovation plans. You don’t want to make a change you’ll have to undo in order to sell your home later. Rather, you want to make changes that are both appealing to you and increase the value of your home and attract a wide range of buyers.
- Try not to paint your basement a wild color that could be off-putting to others (like bubblegum pink or lime green).
- If you are selling the home soon, try to work within a limited palette. Being adventurous with paint and décor color schemes can often turn potential buyers off.
- An accent wall is a great way to add a bold pop of color without overwhelming the room. This also makes it easy for the buyer, as they only need to paint 1 wall if they don't like it.
Get creative.While it is important to consider what potential buyers might be interested in, the basement can also be a place where you let your decorating side go a little crazy – especially if you plan on living in this home for a long time. Not every visitor in your home will see your basement, so this gives you an opportunity to really express yourself through color.
- Let yourself pick vibrant, exciting colors that will make a statement. But be sure to coordinate with your décor so that you don’t have clashing color combinations.
QuestionWhat colour paint should I use in a small basement with dark grey-brown wood-looking vinyl flooring and small windows?
Founder, Honey Bee Interior Design, LLCFounder, Honey Bee Interior Design, LLCExpert AnswerI would paint the walls a light grey-blue color. This adds color with the blue but stays neutral when mixed with grey.Thanks!
QuestionI have an open unfinished basement with 5 small windows. I was thinking of using candy red throughout. Would this work?
Founder, Honey Bee Interior Design, LLCFounder, Honey Bee Interior Design, LLCExpert AnswerI would paint the walls a neutral color - like grey or light sand, and add fun candy red color pops throughout the space in pillows, artwork, and maybe some accent furniture!Thanks!
QuestionWhat color walls go with a brown/white floor and a light purple ceiling?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt would look nice to put light gray on one wall and white on another.Thanks!
QuestionWhat color gray paint should I choose if there is little natural light in the basement, but we are going to put a lot of lights in the ceiling?Celia77Community AnswerThe lighter the better, in this case. As you know, there are many different tones of light bulbs. Pick a light that would make the lighter grey seem happier or brighter. A cold light may make it seem too dark, or give the space a sad feeling. You could talk to a person at a local paint store.Thanks!
QuestionOur floors are a gray-wood look, and our sectional couch is teal. What wall color would look good in our windowless basement?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPaint three walls in a light gray and paint one accent wall teal.Thanks!
QuestionWhat color walls go with a brown floor and a black ceiling?Celia77Community AnswerWhite and modern.Thanks!
QuestionWhen painting a cement basement floor that's already a dark green color, what color do you recommend painting it? Do we have to remove the dark green paint before we paint over it, or can we use primer?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can paint right over it, but if you are using a lighter color, it might take two coats.Thanks!
QuestionWhat color will look good in a basement with very little light? It has a dark brown floor, brown leather furniture, and a bar made of stone.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerI think I'd go for a yellow or mint green, or even a sky blue (essentially pastels). Anything like this should lighten the feel and and make the room seem fresh and bright.Thanks!
QuestionI have gray-like wood in the basement. I have two windows and recessed lighting as well as a black sectional, TV and electric fire place. What colors would look good?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerRed and blue will give it a nice touch, because blue is very conductive and attractive, whereas the red will make the room a more violent setting.Thanks!
QuestionWhat would look best with a cream carpet with brown flecks in it, and a burgundy sofa?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerA subtle yellow or an earthy green may add a splash of color to work with and contrast the browns. Experiment with different colors to do with nature.Thanks!
- Unlike some rooms on upper floors, basement rooms are almost never occupied when the lights are out. Therefore, basement rooms only need to look good under a single lighting condition, instead of responding well to a range of diffused or ambient lighting situations.
- If you can't make your mind up about paint, consider using wallpaper instead.
Video: 7 Tips to Picking Paint Colors
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