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Written by A.C Carver

Painting a room is a considerable investment in time, money, and effort, yet nothing is as important in determining the personality of a room.  Therefore, the question of what colour to paint a room is not always easily answered.  When decorating a home, paint colours can be chosen confidently if the room's size, shape, and style are complemented by the warmth and intensity of the colour.

Colours are classified as either warm or cool. Warm tones include reds, yellows, and oranges, while blue, green, and violet are considered cool. Even white can come in warm or cool shades, depending on the tint. Cool hues appear to recede, which makes them helpful in making a small space seem airy. Warm colours have the opposite effect, making even large rooms seem cozy and welcoming. Using a cool colour on an awkwardly-shaped room helps minimize architectural flaws.  A warm hue, by contrast, will draw the eye and highlight architectural features.  Warmth or coolness is an essential part of a room's decor.  

A colour's intensity also affects a room's style.  Deep colours can make a bold statement, but can also be overpowering, especially when used in dark or enclosed spaces.  They also require careful thought be given to the colour of furnishings and accessories.  More muted tones will coordinate with a greater range of accent colours, but risk fading into the background.  A potential compromise is to designate an accent wall, painted in a vibrant hue, and use a softer analogous shade on the rest of the room.  Thoughtful interior design does not have to mean walls painted in faint pastels, but colour intensity must be respected.

Many overwhelmed decorators have been tempted to simply paint the room a "safe" neutral colour, like gray or beige.  A neutral paint colour can create an elegant, calming room.  Furthermore, a neutral can be timeless since it will coordinate with easily changed accessories in a range of colour schemes.  However, just as much care must be taken with selecting a neutral colour as with a more assertive hue.  Like all colours, neutrals can be warm, like tan, or cool, like gray.  Neutrals also run a greater risk of creating a boring, generic decor scheme.  Using bright accents like rugs, upholstery, or art, will balance this tendency, as will incorporating a range of textures, such as knitted blankets or gleaming mirrors.  Painting a room a neutral colour can be an excellent choice, but requires thoughtful execution.

Whether they dream of a bold violet library, a serene aqua bedroom, or a sleek gray office, novice decorators do not need to agonize over what colour to paint a room. Simply considering the warmth, intensity, and versatility of a shade will allow them to choose wisely and create the space of their dreams.