When thinking about color, it's essential to understand that colors shift: Depending on what base colors are contained in a particular paint color, that color may look lighter or darker or more or less vibrant when viewed alongside other colors.

When comparing two colors, interior designer Patsy Zakian-Greenough recommends punching holes in opposite ends of a blank, white 3-by-5 card and viewing each color through one of these small holes.

“It helps you to see how warm or cool a color is and what other colors it has in it. It helps you to evaluate the real base of that color.”

Natural light also shifts color. “People have to consider the natural light that comes into a room,” Zakian-Greenough says. “Lots of natural light makes a color appear to have a lighter value.” Colors, then, will always appear darkest against the window wall and lightest against the wall opposite a window. The amount and intensity of natural light entering a room varies depending on the orientation of the room, the local climate, and the time of year.

“Colors will change throughout the day, from morning to evening and from season to season,” Zakian-Greenough says. “Homeowners have to be happy with a color through all of these changes.”