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5 Tips on How to Choose Paint Colors for a Coastal Cottage Look

*This post on tips for how to choose paint colors for your home was written when we lived in our previous home. It-+ was updated June 2021.

Picking a paint color is one of my favourite parts of a room transformation.

It also ~ at times ~ scares me silly!!

coastal paint colors on paint swatches
Choosing a color palette for your interior can be overwhelming! Be sure to check the swatches you are considering in each room they’ll be used.

I’ve fallen in love with every house we’ve lived in ~ our current one included.  It has a rich, rich history.  Half of it was built in 1927 and half in 1967.  And did I mention the ocean is only steps away?

On move in day, we found an eclectic mix of historical elements with a healthy dose of 70s and 80s style.  Over time, I’ve been trying to unify the elements and flow to make it seem like a house with a single personality ~ not one with multiple ones!:)

After a few “misses” in the paint color department, I discovered the feel and style of  home that I wanted to create is a coastal cottage feel. (Click for our previous home tour here: Farmhouse By the Sea)

Tips for how to choose paint colors for your home interior

Here are some tips I’ve used that have helped guide me through the maze of choosing colors to fit that style.

1.  Observe what you love. 

This is where inspiration pictures come in.  Pinterest, magazines, and library books are all great resources.

a Dining room painted in a light gray blue color
Find inspiration pictures of spaces that you like.

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2.  Take note of the paint colors you are drawn to. 

As you analyze the inspiration pictures you collect, you’ll most often quickly discover a reoccurring theme.  For me, it was watery blues and crisp whites.

a Living room painted in a white color
As you find pictures of spaces you like, take note of what color they are painted.

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3.  Once you discover the direction you’re headed, dig deeper to find the specifics of the elements you love. 

Although I know I love blue, there are just SO MANY shades of it!  The choices just seemed so overwhelming.  The game changer for me was when I watched an episode of Sarah’s Cottage.  She was working on a kitchen in her island cottage and I fell in love with the end result. It had paint colors for the Coastal Cottage look I was going for, so I observed it carefully.

sarah Richardson's cottage kitchen painted in blue and green
Watery blues and greens are common paint colors for a coastal cottage look.

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I studied and studied that picture and went to the Benjamin Moore store to get the exact color swatches of that room.  I was shocked to discover that the shades of blue in the photos were actually called “gray” with a healthy mix of green as well.

4.  Once you have an idea of the colors you’d like, try the swatches out in the room you are painting. 

Although you may love a color in a picture, it may look totally different in the light and size of the room you’re working on. 

house paint color swatches taped to the wall of a room
Be sure to test color swatches in the exact room they’ll be used in. Light changes how they look dramatically!

If you are having trouble choosing with those teeny tiny swatches, I totally agree! Here are some better options:

  • Buy a sample size of the colors you are choosing between and paint it on half a sheet of poster board. It will make a nice big paint swatch to see on the wall. You can see how I used that method when I was choosing a paint color for a small dark space. (Our current living room.) This method allows you to move around your giant paint swatch and observe it in different lights throughout the day and night.
  • Paint sample swatches right on the wall. Just be careful, however, that the current color on the wall doesn’t change the swatch color.

5.  Most importantly, relax! 

The single best tip I ever read was the statement “It’s just paint, after all”.   As someone who has often been plagued with decorating paralysis, this was a big help.  Although I’m incredibly frugal and fully understand paint costs money, it’s a relatively inexpensive risk in home decor.  If you get it on the wall and absolutely hate it, just change it!  I’ve watched professionals (even Sarah Richardson, my favorite!) who have misses in color choice and change it after they see it on the wall.

The main point of room color and decor is to use it to achieve something that you love.  If you love it, it’s right!

If you need a place to start for finding colour inspiration and learning more painting tips and tricks, check out Benjamin Moore’s website here.

What are some of the most popular blue green paint colors for a coastal look?

I love the muted style of coastal cottage paint colors. Over the years, I’ve studied and studied those colors. Today, I discovered a super helpful article by Life on Virginia street with a list of popular blue green paint colors, along with pictures of them in homes. You might find it super helpful.

an infographic of popular blue-green paint colors - some of which are perfect for a coastal color palette

We used sea salt in one of our previous bathroom, and I recognize others as some of my favorites as well.

If you are looking for muted, coastal paint colors, I suggest you google it. You’ll find a whole lot of inspiration to choose from!

For more tips on how to choose an interior paint color, you might find these posts helpful:

And are you wondering what color I chose for our new room makeover?? Here is the Dining Room Turned Office Room Reveal!

For more fresh ideas for your home:

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3 Comments

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  2. Rita this blog was so helpful! Even though I love decorating and color paint always trips me up! Your tips all helped me relax a bit and just go with my gut. And I too love Sarah Richardson!

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