You absolutely have to get samples. There is almost nobody with a vivid enough imagination that they can determine exactly what a color will look, and more importantly feel like in a given space. That is why it is vital that you get nice, large samples of any colors you are considering, and try them out in the room before you make any decisions.
One of the nice things about samples in paint stores is that they are generally arranged in sympathetic relationships. This means that colors which tend to go with one another are placed closer together, while clashing tones are kept further apart. This makes choosing a variety of colors a little bit simpler.
When choosing samples, try and keep them separated into different themes. This allows you to benefit from the organized layout in the store, even when you are at home. If necessary, choose the same color sample several times, and then create different packets with possible supporting colors.
To find tones which contrast and compliment your primary colors, you can use a color wheel. An invaluable tool, it lays out color a lot like the samples are arranged, except in the shape of a wheel with complimentary colors standing opposite one another. When using three colors you can either select three that are right next to one another on the wheel, or which are an equal distance apart.
If the samples in the store are too small to give you a good idea of the effect of the color, try purchasing a small amount of paint, and applying to a piece of drywall, or whatever kind of surface material you will be painting. This gives you not only a much larger swatch of color, but it also gives you an idea of how it will look with the texture of your wall.
Color samples can also be used to determine good accent colors for furnishings and decorative accessories which you can place throughout the space. Try cutting them up and arranging them on a floor plan to get an idea of how the colors will flow together in the final space.
The most important thing about color samples is not to get overwhelmed when you walk into a store and see all of the choices which are available to you. Just relax, and try to keep your decisions organized. Most importantly, try to have fund. You are creating an artistic work within the space, and art always works better when you are happy.
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