If choosing a wall color gives you heart palpitations then here's my prescription. Relax! Take it slow and easy. Then consider a few basic things.
Consider the function of the room. What are you going to do in it? Work, play, sleep, rest, relax, cook, or eat? Whatever you do in this room will direct the wall color production.
Think about the feel of the room. Emotions play a big role when it comes to wall color. What do you want this room to feel like when you enter? Or when others enter? Remember, color is reflected light waves that physically touch us and affect our emotions. It's hard to be neutral when color is involved because we feel it.
Consider the lighting in the room, because without light there is no color. What is lighting your room: natural light from windows, light fixtures, or both? With natural light the color will change depending on the time of day. With light fixtures the color will also change just by using different bulbs. Proper lighting will help the room function well and set the stage for the right wall color choice.
Take into account the architecture of the room. Is this a traditional room with crown and base moldings? Does the room have wainscoting or built-ins that match the moldings? Or is this a modern room with no moldings? Some rooms can have interesting features like fireplaces, recessed or angled walls and bulkheads. These architectural features will help tell you where to start and stop painting and if accent color is needed, so you can best express the character you want.
Consider your furnishings. Rarely can we start from scratch and buy all-new furnishings, so the style and color of your existing furniture, artwork and accessories are important to study. Be sure to include these into your overall color plan. And sometimes the best color is NO color.
Finally, consider hiring a professional. If these few tips haven't helped to relieve your palpitations a little then that might be a sign you need help. You might just save yourself time and money (and grief!) by avoiding wrong color choices. I've created a simple wall color questionnaire that clients fill out before I consult with them. Maybe this is what you need to unfold the story of your home and add some color to your life.
Lisa Stewart is an Interior Designer in Raleigh, NC.