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The #1 Secret to Finding the Perfect Paint Color

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Believe it or not, natural light has the biggest impact on how paint colors are perceived in your home. The amount of light your space receives, the direction the light is coming from, and even the presence of other colors in the room (think fabrics furniture, etc) can actually alter how colors may appear, so it’s important to understand the lighting in your space when choosing a paint color.

Clean, bright, natural light will show color in its truest form, and while most will live up to your expectations (blue paint isn’t going to get bluer, no matter what light hits it) whites and neutrals are another story.

Context matters too, especially when it comes to whites and neutrals which tend to act as a mirror of sorts, reflecting other colors that are situated nearby. A white living room with a view overlooking a row of red brick buildings may take on a red-ish tint, for instance, while a master bedroom facing a pool is destined to look a little blue at some point during the day.

What’s inside matters, too, so if you place a purple rug inside a bright room with white paint, it could cast a purple glow over the room.

With so many external factors dictating how color is perceived, it’s important to sample a few shades first, and, while doing so, keep these general light guidelines in mind.

South-Facing Rooms

Southern light tends to be consistently bright throughout the day with warm yellow, golden tones that you’ll want to play up to keep the room from feeling cold and sterile.

Go for something with a clean neutral undertone like Fresh Kicks, the brightest of our whites or Snow Day, our coolest, which has just enough warmth to keep it from looking too pristine.

Fresh Kicks - bright white paint color by Clare
Fresh Kicks - bright white wall paint color by Clare
Fresh Kicks

airy, clean, and classic

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Snow Day - white wall paint color by Clare

Snow Day

Like a serene winter wonderland the morning after a first snowfall. This is our coolest white, with just a touch of warmth to liven it up.
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North-Facing Rooms

North-facing rooms don’t get any direct sunlight, so the light you do see tends to be soft and even, but less bright. It’s also a lot cooler with a bluer cast than southern light, which is why you’ll want to consider incorporating some warmer colors into the space to balance it out.

Our favorite whites for north-facing rooms: Whipped, our warmest white, and Timeless, the perfect off-white with creamy undertones that reflects light beautifully.

Whipped - warm white wall paint color by Clare


Dreamy and whisked-to-perfection, this is the warmest of our whites with a soft, delicate feel. Our best white for north-facing rooms but versatile enough to work in any space.
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Timeless - warm off-white paint color by Clare
Timeless - warm off-white paint color by Clare

clean, minimal, and sophisticated

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East- And West-Facing Rooms

The light in these rooms is a lot cleaner and more even than North/South-facing spaces — it changes the most throughout the day with more intensity as the sun peaks and sets. To the west, for instance, you’ll get a golden glow at dusk, so pick a color like Good Jeans that’s versatile and doesn’t look too firey as the sun goes down. Eastern light with appear brighter in the morning than in the afternoon, since it’s the direction the sun rises. Go for a color like Neutral Territory.

Neutral Territory - warm beige wall paint color by Clare
Neutral Territory - warm beige wall paint color by Clare
Neutral Territory

clean, calm, and classic

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Good Jeans - dusty blue paint color by Clare

Good Jeans

A medium, grayish blue you can count on, just like your favorite pair of broken-in denim.
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Rooms With Minimal Light

Interior rooms with minimal light or without windows, such as a bath or powder room, rely on artificial light which can vary greatly depending on your bulb choice. Fake the effect of natural light with a light bulb that mimics the outdoors like a Daylight D65 bulb. Its 6500 kelvin temperature proved most flattering with our paint, making the paint color feel the truest to our Perfect Color Swatch.

No matter where you find your light, let it bring your room to life. And when light is scarce, here are a handful of ways to use paint to brighten even the darkest room.

#1. Paint the ceiling. A white ceiling will reflect the most light and ensure that everything else in the room looks brighter, too.

Ceiling Paint - flat white ceiling paint - Clare

Ceiling Paint

The perfect flat white for ceilings. Designed for the easiest above-your-head application with minimal splatter, our ceiling paint delivers smooth, uniform coverage and high-hiding power to conceal surface imperfections.
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#2. Mind your trims. Love the idea of deep-colored walls but don’t want to darken and already dim space? A saturated shade of paint, like Deep Dive or Blackest, along your baseboards and crown moldings will provide a nice pop of color without compromising any of the sunlight the room receives.

Deep Dive - dark teal paint color by Clare

Deep Dive

Plunge 100 feet down into the deep blue sea. This bold, sophisticated blue hue features a hint of green undertones.
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#3. Play up what you have. In general, the lighter a paint color — think: crisp whites, creams, and pale greys — the more it’s going to reflect the room’s natural light, so whatever light there is, enhance it.

Need help finding the perfect paint color?

Try Clare Color Genius! Answer a few simple questions to get a personalized paint color recommendation. It’s like having an interior design guide to help you find a paint color you'll love. Explore our perfect palette of 55 timeless colors here.

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