Figuring out the right color to paint the walls can feel like an exercise in futility. You can compare swatches for weeks, in natural and artificial light, and yet somehow wind up with taupe walls that feel a little too mauve, or gray walls that seem just a bit too green. Most often, though, the real reason people aren't satisfied with their walls is because they chose a color that's just a shade too light, says Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. "They put in all the effort to paint, and in the end, it doesn't feel like they made a real change," she explains. "I usually recommend that people go a shade lower on the swatch than they're thinking about buying, since that’s usually the result they're after, but they're afraid it will be too dark."
While pale blues and dusty greens are known for being soothing, Jordan says dark colors—like stormy charcoal and chocolate brown—can create a relaxing, comforting mood. The key is looking for less saturated shades and opting for a matte or flat finish, which feel less intense than vibrant, high-gloss ones.