PAINT COLOR ROUND-UP | Paint Picking Tips!


The question I get most often is “What are your top paint picking tips?!”

Paint is one of the best ways to incorporate color and personality into a space. But, walking into the paint store staring at the wall of tiny paint squares can feel like the most daunting choice you make in your home! Paint colors are one of the questions I get asked most because they can be so hard to choose. Filters, lighting, and time of day all affect how colors will look. I’m here to share my top paint picking tips!

Typically Mr. Yolo and I are renovating an entire house from top-to-bottom, so we have a blank slate. It can be super overwhelming to know what color you want in EVERY room during the renovation process. To combat this, my first of many paint picking tips is to start by painting the entire house some type of white before adding accent colors. In the Barnhouse, we painted the whole house Behr’s Swiss Coffee — including the ceilings. This is a very approachable white with some warmth to it, because I did not want the house to feel too stark. It’s a really cozy white, that I love and use in every house now.

Pro Tip: We use a sprayer, which makes the process so much quicker. And I could write an entire post on paint sprayers (which I might just do!) because I get a ton of questions whenever we use one. In short: Spraying takes ALOT more prep time, but the actual painting is super quick. I would recommend a sprayer if you are painting a whole empty room. If you are only painting your walls or an accent wall, rolling it is the way to go! 

I went a shade darker than the walls on the trim, Behr’s Cotton Knit, so there would be a little dimension. In most of my photos the trim and wall read the same, but in real life it’s a subtle difference that is really pretty. It’s SO FUN to see a bunch of you use this same combo and love it! We use a different paint sheen on the trim than on the walls. This also helps add dimension to the room. Typically I choose an eggshell finish on the walls and satin on the trim — but not always depending on the look I am trying to achieve.

One of my favorite paint picking tips is that paint with a sheen tends to repel fingerprints and wipes easier than a flat paint on trim. So it’s often recommended to use a semi-gloss on trim, but I am not a huge fan of gloss, so I stick to a flatter sheen. Behr also recently came out with ULTRA Scuff Defense that has the look of a flat, but the durability of gloss, which we tried in the Duplex. So far so good, but I will follow-up in a future Duplex paint picks post to let you know how it holds up. 


With hundreds of shades of white, how do you choose? 

Pick a white paint, easy, right!? Nope! There are SO many whites!

At I SPY Abode I used HGTV Home’s Pure White, which really is one of the purest whites I’ve ever seen. It worked with the design of that house, but it wouldn’t have worked at the Barnhouse because I wanted a more cozy, inviting feel. Behr’s Swiss Coffee is my go-to. It’s white, but it has a little bit of warmth that doesn’t feel too stark. After using it in The Barnhouse, I became obsessed with it. I’ve recommended it to friends and fam that are looking for a white, and it’s looked SO GOOD in ALL of their homes! We also used it in our Duplex renovation, which has more blue accents in the tile and accent walls, and it still looks fantastic!

Tip: Cooler is more blue tones. Warmer is more yellow tones. 

Both whites and accent colors can take on many different shades. You’ll want to select samples and paint them on your walls. Try them in different spaces of the room and look at them during different times of the day.

My Top Paint Picking Tips:

  • Start with a couple of inspiration pieces like a pillow, blanket, or art that will hang in that room. Take your inspiration pieces with you to the paint store and select paint swatches that pull from the hues in those items. This is a great place to start when you’re feeling at a loss for what color to use.
  • Never go off of how the tiny paint square looks in the store! I beg you! Choose a few paint swatches you like based on your inspiration pieces and then buy a few tester cans and paint them on your walls. Remember to look at them in different light and on different walls. Or you can try the Peel & Stick samples that you can order online for a couple of bucks. These actually work pretty well because you can move them wall to wall, but nothing works better than painting a swatch on your wall! 
  • Look at paint samples that are a shade lighter and a shade darker than you think you like. That will help you find your true favorite.
  • When rooms are in eyesight of each other, make sure you pick colors that complement each other. Try to achieve an overall cohesive look choosing colors that play well together instead of clash.

Here’s a roundup of all the Barnhouse paint colors:


Walls:  Swiss Coffee Finish: Eggshell
Trim: Cotton Knit Finish: Satin



Walls: Swiss Coffee Finish: Eggshell
Trim/shelves: Silver Celadon Finish: Chalk Paint



Walls:  Swiss Coffee Finish: Eggshell
Trim: Cotton Knit Finish: Satin
Stairs: Satin Black Finish: Satin, Behr Premium Plus Ultra Exterior Satin Enamel

When we purchased the Barnhouse, the stairs were wood and had varnish on them. I quickly found that stripping and sanding them was going to be a big undertaking. So instead of trying to stain them, I decided to paint them. I used Kilz oil-based primer in a gray tone (if you’re painting with a dark color use gray primer). KILZ primer will stick to anything with a finish (I did do a light sand before priming) and it won’t chip.

After the primer, I used exterior paint on the stairs for durability. This paint has been amazing. We didn’t have a stair runner for almost a year, and the paint still looks great even after lots of feet and paws have been up and down thousands of times!


Living Room

Walls:  Swiss Coffee Finish: Eggshell
Trim: Cotton Knit Finish: Satin


Downstairs Bathroom

Walls:  Swiss Coffee Finish: Eggshell
Accent Color: Blue Metal Finish: Matte

Behr’s Blue Metal is one of my absolute favs! I saw this at one of their events and just knew I had to use it somewhere. So in this room, I started with the color and built off of that instead of using an inspiration piece. In the bathroom, I painted to the bottom of the wall and then used Chasing Paper wallpaper on the top, which has become my go-to in bathrooms! If you are using a dark color in a small room, this can be an excellent way to make the room lighter and brighter while still using a dark paint color. And this is definitely one of those colors you want to test. On some walls it looks blue and others greenish/gray.

Then I picked decor in that space that would work with both, no matter which way the paint was reading on a wall. We picked landscape paintings that had grays and greens and blues so they would all play together. I chose a matte finish for this paint because I wanted it to look rich and have no sheen. I didn’t want it to look modern, but as though it had been there for years.

Barnhouse_paintcolors_upstairsLanding copy


Walls:  Swiss Coffee Finish: Eggshell
Trim: Cotton Knit Finish: Satin
Door: Silver Celadon Finish: Chalk Paint

Silver Celadon was a happy accident! The walls on the landing are Behr’s Swiss Coffee (you know, like the rest of my house!), and for some reason, the area was reading pink. I couldn’t figure it out because this wasn’t happening in the other rooms. It must have had something to do with our red house reflecting off the neighbors white house and bouncing in through the bay windows. I played around with a ton of different colors to get an accent color on the doors to tone down the pink. and the greenish undertones in Silver Celadon worked! It’s a beautiful soothing gray that I’ve used in a couple of other spaces. In some rooms, it reads more green, and in some, it’s just gray, so just make sure it works with the vibe you are going for. 

Chalk paint on a door!? Yup, I did it. But would I do it again, probably not. You can see fingerprints on the doors, so I would try the matte Scuff Defence next time.  Pro tip: remember you can color match to a matte paint, which will be less expensive than chalk paint.



Wall & Trim: Doeskin Gray Finish: Interior Flat

The mudroom is a really small space, so I wanted a lighter paint color to make it feel bigger. It’s right off the kitchen, so I had to choose complementary paint colors. Doeskin gray is warmer and almost reads with a pink undertone. It’s a cheery, bright, and pretty gray. I chose a flat finish because I didn’t want any shine. I again wanted this space to appear old and that it could have been original to the 1875 home.


Mr. Yolo’s Office

Walls:  Swiss Coffee Finish: Eggshell
Trim: Cotton Knit Finish: Satin
Built-In: Black Evergreen Finish: Semigloss

Behr’s Black Evergreen is a stunning color! It’s such a popular color for a reason. In Mr. Yolo’s office, I wanted to go dark. The office has a lot of natural light, so I knew this room could handle a dramatic color. It’s moody and woodsy and perfect for Mr. Yolo’s love of the outdoors. We debated and tested paint swatches of both blue and green and ended up with Black Evergreen. In here I picked a semi-gloss finish that’s easily wipeable to dust all the shelves. 


Upstairs Bathroom

Walls:  Swiss Coffee Finish: Eggshell


Upstairs Bedroom

Walls:  Swiss Coffee Finish: Eggshell
Trim: Cotton Knit Finish: Satin



Walls:  Swiss Coffee Finish: Eggshell
Trim: Cotton Knit Finish: Satin
Accent Wall: Dusty Laurel Finish: Chalk Paint

This accent wall wasn’t large, so I chose to use a chalk paint finish. Chalk paint is the most matte paint you can get. Do not be confused with chalkboard paint. It’s not the same. Chalk paint has zero sheen, and it’s a little thicker. Chalk paint works great for furniture. If you are going to paint a larger wall, a hack is asking the paint department at Home Depot to color match a chalk paint color to one of the new matte paints that are out now —  it’s cheaper!


Walls:  Swiss Coffee Finish: Eggshell
Trim: Cotton Knit Finish: Satin
Accent color: Tweed Coat Finish: Chalk Paint
Here’s an IGTV on how I did this wall.

Remember, paint adds personality!

Don’t be afraid to try different paint colors. If it turns out you don’t like the color, you can always paint over it. Paint is an inexpensive and easy way to update a room and go for a new look. So put on your painting gear and get to work on your transformation! I hope these paint picking tips helped aid you in your renovation journey.




  1. Paige Flamm says:

    I love this green color! It’s beautiful!


  2. Awesome post! Keep up the great work! 🙂

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