Unfortunately there is no magic answer to how I have picked paint colors in our house. Although I have a few basic principles, I do not have a consistent methodology.
I generally start with a fabric or a solid idea for a neutral that will go with a lot of different fabrics. If you have, or plan to have, a dominant fabric in the room, then it's best to pick the wall color from the fabric. If you do the opposite, you'll never get the color just right unless you happen to be really lucky.
I tend to choose vibrant neutrals - no real tans or beiges. I have some bright creams (such as in our master bedroom) and one taupe (in the basement guest room). Our main house color is straw yellow and that extends from the attic stairs to the basement family room.
But, for Elizabeth's room, we broke free from the neutrals with a pretty pink (Quaint Peche by Duron). As you may have read a few weeks ago, she proclaimed her distaste for pink and really wanted her room to be blue. I loved her pink and green room but had to admit that it really was no longer "her" and needed a little updating to get her to the tween years. I hope.
I started with a new quilt. I needed some pink in it because I didn't want to lose everything in her room that was pink. I found this Cynthia Rowley quilt. You can still find it on eBay. It's adorable - still young and fun but not too babyish.
Next I grabbed a bunch of paint samples at my local paint store. Dropped them all on the bed and narrowed down my choices to two. I wanted to be careful that the blue wasn't too purple or periwinkle because that was not the look we were going for. Definitely wanted pale blue. Well, I wanted pale blue and she wanted saturated blue. I won. Six year olds do not pick paint colors in this house. I bought 2 sample quarts from my paint store and then Handy Hubby slapped them up on the wall for me. My main tip with sampling is to do it unless you are really brave or the room is tiny so repainting won't kill you. My other tip for sampling is to paint a large swatch on more than one wall because the colors will look different from different angles and in different lights.
This picture isn't a very accurate reflection of the colors unfortunately - I snapped this at night so the lighting was horrible. We went with the color on the left (SW Hinting Blue) instead of the one on the right (can't remember the name). The one on the right had too much purple/periwinkle going on, although it was slightly closer to the quilt color. Hinting Blue also looks great with the quilt but it's a color that both Elizabeth and I liked a lot. Not sure how many times that's going to happen in the course of our lives!
So the color is picked! Now on to painting...
Happy New Year!