Ask the Expert

Panicked about Picking Paint Colors?

Benjamin Moore color and design expert Andrea Magno offers easy-to-follow advice.

By Ilene Denton November 29, 2017

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Benjamin Moore's 2018 Color of the Year: Caliente.

If your first response when you enter a paint store and face a wall of 3,500 color chips is panic, you are not alone.

We asked Andrea Magno, a member of the national color and design team at Benjamin Moore, for ways to conquer the process. Magno, an interior designer with a degree in art history who worked at Christie’s auction house before joining the premium paint company 12 years ago, recommends a sensible step-by-step approach to choosing color.

First, to narrow down the selection process, she says, “find some source of inspiration, something you absolutely love. Maybe an area rug, or a painting, a picture you found on Pinterest, whatever; at least you have that starting point.” Then you can look at that subset of colors instead of the entire wall of paint chips in the paint store.

Ask yourself: Do you want a warmer or cooler color? “Maybe the blue-greens are more tranquil and that’s where I want to go,” she says, “or maybe I want something more colorful. It’s like a funnel; if you narrow it down step-by-step you eliminate options right off the bat.”

Look at the color in the home, at different times of day, under natural and artificial light. Don’t rely on those tiny take-home strips from the paint store. Magno suggests that, if you’ve narrowed it down to three or four colors, pick up a pint-sized sample of each at the store. Instead of painting swatches directly on the wall, paint out a big 24-by-36-inch piece of foam-core or poster board. “Then you can move the poster board around the room and see the effect on every wall, and on your furniture and window treatments,” she says. “It’s totally worth the [minimal] dollars.”

Last, think of the sheen. “Consider a matte finish so the color looks rich and velvety, or the high drama of a gloss, or gloss on trim and matte on walls,” Magno says.

Oh, and good news for those of us who like to go bold: Benjamin Moore’s 2019 Color of the Year is a rich, vibrant red called Caliente (AF-290 on the color chart). “It’s classic, comforting, vibrant but still a red you can live with,” says Magno. “You can use it in a big or small amount and still get a lot of personality and oomph into a space, depending on how you want to live with color.”

And trends show that’s more and more of us. “We’ve seen warmer colors coming into the palette over the past couple of years—mixing warm camel with gray, for example. And last year we saw a trend toward darker colors,” says Magno. “People are getting more comfortable with color.”

To view Benjamin Moore’s entire 2018 Color Palette of 23 colors and see it applied in various vignettes, visit

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The 2018 Color Palette.



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