4 Reasons Why Paint Colours Look Different In The Store (or on a screen) Than in your Home - and how you can see what your favourite paint colours will actually look like on your walls

4 Reasons Why Paint Colours Look Different In The Store (or on a screen) Than in your Home - and how you can see what your favourite paint colours will actually look like on your walls


Choosing a paint colour for your home can feel like an adventure. It's exciting to pick out the perfect hue, because you know it will immediately change the look of your space. However, once you get that paint on the walls and move your furniture back into place, you might be surprised by how different it looks than what you imagined. 

What happened? How does paint go from being beautiful in the store to suddenly looking blah or way too dark when applied in your own home? There are several reasons why this happens, but luckily there are also easy ways to avoid it! Let's take a look at four reasons why paint colours can look different than they do in the store—and what you can do about it.

Paint chips are misleading

Paint chips are small, and it’s hard to see what impact a colour will have on a whole room from a tiny little square of paper. And more importantly, the colour that you see on paper paint chips is misleading.

It’s a computer generated simulation of a paint colour, which means that  it’s not a good representation of what the real paint colour will look like in your home.

Lighting matters to how a colour is perceived

The lighting in your space will influence how a colour looks and feels. In fact, the same colour can appear quite different depending on the type of light it's under. For instance, warm yellow tones may appear more neutral when the light source is cool white (like an incandescent bulb), but appear to be more yellow when exposed to warmer light sources such as daylight or candlelight.

This phenomenon is referred to as “illuminance contrast”: a change in illumination affects our perception of all colours around us by changing their relative luminosity (how bright they are). 

When you're trying out paint samples at the store or online, remember that what you see isn't always what you get, and consider how the lighting in your space will influence the way the colour looks on your walls at home.

Texture and sheen make a difference to how you experience paint

The texture and sheen of the paint is another factor that affects how you experience colour. Texture refers to the way it feels, while sheen describes how the paint is reflective. In other words, a high-sheen coat of paint reflects more light than a low-sheen coat.

A glossy finish looks shinier than flat paint because it reflects more light – but both types absorb some of that light energy as well. So if you want something like "eggshell" or "satin" finish for your walls, expect the colours to feel softer to the touch and look more muted than their glossier counterparts.

Decor, accents and architectural details change the way a colour feels

You might not have thought about this before, but the decor in your home can affect how a colour looks.

Architectural details like windows, mantles and cabinetry can influence how a paint colour feels in your space. For example, dark wood tones will appear darker when viewed against light walls while white or light greys will appear lighter on dark surfaces.

The size, colours and texture of your furniture, drapery and floor coverings has a big impact on the way that colour feels in your space as well. One more reason why a colour that you fall in love with in a store or a magazine may feel very different in your own space.

Peel and Stick Paint Samples are the best way to see the true colour, sheen and texture of paint in your home

If you're in the market for a new paint colour, you'll want to see it in your home where you’ll be applying it. The best way to do this is by using peel and stick paint samples. 

The key benefit of these samples is that they let you test out how a colour will look in your space without having to rely on misleading paper chips or paint a messy test patch on your wall! 

If you've never tried them before, peel and stick paint samples are the best way to test paint colours at home. They are easy to use, inexpensive, don’t create any mess or stress, and will help you pick the perfect colour with 100% confidence.

Our Big Paint Chips are removable, repositional stickers that you can move to different parts of your room to see how a colour will look in different lighting, near corners, furniture, windows and trim.

Big Paint Chips are made with real paint, so you'll be able to see the true colour, sheen and texture of the paint on your wall before committing to a full coat. 


Your home is probably the biggest investment you'll ever make, so it's important that you do everything possible to ensure it looks its best. We hope this information is helpful as you make some major decisions regarding the colours of your walls!