How to Pick Paint
Bring it home. Don't make a decision based on how a color looks in the store. Take the card home, cut out the chip you like, and stick it on the wall to see it in your room's lighting. Glidden Paint (available at Home Depot) offers peel-and-stick color chips that work like Post-its, safely sticking to walls.
Audition a color. The best way to choose a color is to try out a sample. Invest in a quart and apply the color to a two-by-two-foot piece of foam board (available at paint centers and art-supply stores). Position the panel in several parts of the room at different times of the day to gauge the changing light. Farrow & Ball (farrow-ball.com), a British manufacturer of traditional paints available in the United States, sells $6.50 pots of paint that cover about 10 square feet, which will let you try out a color without buying a full quart. Devine Color paint (devinecolor.com) offers two-ounce paint pouches for color sampling.
Make it match (no extra charge). You can have paint custom mixed to match a piece of fabric, carpeting, or wallpaper at any Ace Hardware, Home Depot, or Lowe's store. The sample must be a flat item that is of uniform color and is at least 1/2 inch square.
Consult a computer. In one of Home Depot's Color Solution Centers, you can use interactive software to "virtually" paint a model room so you can see how different colors will look. Lowe's has kiosks in its Signature Colors Design Centers, where you can experiment with more than a thousand colors from six designer palettes. For an even better sense of how a color will look, both Glidden and Lowe's sell CD-ROMs that let you input digital images of your own room. (Or go to lowes.com or homedepot.com to use the free software application.)
Narrow it down. If you're overwhelmed by the thousands of colors typically offered by big paint companies, try a boutique line, such as Farrow & Ball or Devine Color. They both offer a limited range of beautiful colors, almost all of which will look good on your walls.