When do you pick out paint colors?

When do you pick out paint colors? There is a TON of info. about the latest paint trends (Have you seen Farrow & Ball’s newest colors? they're off the chain), and what you should paint your kitchen.

The timing of painting can be key though. A little bit of your timing relates to if you are moving or just refreshing. I’m going to go through the options for both, so you don't have to figure it out. 

Photo courtesy of Lonny

Photo courtesy of Lonny

New Home- When you move into a new home, it is a lot easier to paint before all your furniture is in (here are some other tips for making moving easier). And sometimes you just can’t wait, you have to do it before you move. But if you can wait, there are some benefits...

Benefits to painting before you move in:

  • You don’t have to deal with furniture
  • You can focus on colors that you know you like
  • You can focus on the lighting in the room instead of the decor. If a room doesn’t have a lot of windows, I would recommend using light colors (unless you like the cozy feeling, then darker shades are perfect). If it does have a lot of windows and lighting, you can pick something really colorful or dark and it won't overwhelm the space. 


  • It’s hard to coordinate with new furnishings if you haven’t picked anything out. However, if you know you are going to be getting a lot of new furnishings, I would recommend at least picking out the rug or sofa fabric or art before painting. Because you can coordinate that with the paint colors. If you don’t really need to buy a lot of new furnishings, you’re good to go with this option :)

Benefits to painting after you move in: 

  • You don’t have to feel rushed in your decisions
  • You can select colors based off your furniture in the space
  • You can live in the space and let it dictate the “vibe”. For instance, you might have wanted to paint your living room gray before you moved in but now that you live there you really think white or a pale blue would look better.


  • You go through the getting your house painted while living in it. Most of the time, it can take less than a week to get it all done, but your home will be a little disrupted. 
Photo courtesy of Veranda

Photo courtesy of Veranda

Current Home: Painting the home you already live in can be a lot easier than when you move in. You already have a feel for the space and you probably have an idea about what colors you want to use. Here are some tips to think about if you are painting your abode.

  1. Don’t necessarily pick out the paint color first. If you are planning on buying a new duvet, rug or even art,- and matching is important to you- it might be better to wait. Because if you paint your walls in a color (even a gray or cream) and that color doesn’t coordinate with the other elements in the room, it will drive you crazy.
  2. Paint once you know what direction you’re taking. I would recommend pulling different images together of the look you want and deciding on any key players that you don’t already own (rugs, art, large patterns on anything etc.) before picking a paint color.
  3. You know what you like. When you live somewhere for awhile, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with all the directions you could go in and never paint the color that you really love because there are other options you love too. Like the Nike ads “Just Do It”. There won’t ever be a “perfect” color and can be an easy weekend refresh project (depending on your ceiling height). If you’ve been on the fence for at least 2-3 months, it’s time to bite the bullet! You will love it because there is a reason why you were drawn to it and have been mulling it over for months :)
Photo courtesy of Domino

Photo courtesy of Domino

There aren’t really rules about when to pick out your paint colors. However, there are times that are more convenient or make it easier for the rest of the process (and save on stress!).

When do you find it easiest to paint? Do you prefer one way or the other?