Luckily my friend Caroline Myers recapped the process step-by-step on her blog. Her instructions ensure that the color you choose from those tiny paint chips becomes the final color on your walls/cabinets/furniture/whatever. There are some extra steps that I didn't use 10 years ago when I painted my first "adult" bedroom, but trust me when I say that those steps are vital.
She used some kitchen cabinets as an example. Here's the BEFORE picture:
And here's the AFTER:
Here are her two vital tips to remember:
1. Get brush-outs of your paint samples. The paint chips at the paint store are not actual paint, so therefore there can be (and will be) color variances. Having a brush-out will give you an accurate picture of what color you are looking at.
2. ***THIS STEP IS KEY*** Once you have selected your paint color from your brush-out samples, order the paint and have them BRUSH OUT YOUR ACTUAL PAINT. This simple step can save you soooo much time. We spent two days getting an excellent paint job on our cabinets. We left for dinner to let them dry, came back and started putting in drawers and holding up the cabinets to get a sneak peak on the final picture. Once we held them up it was VERY apparent that we had the wrong color. We then painted some of our quart of paint to our original brush-out and sure enough the paint store had mixed it wrong. This color was incredibly blue compared to the color we had selected. So we had to spend an extra two days applying the correct paint color to the cabinets. So please please have the paint store brush out the actual paint so you can compare it to your sample brush out.
She has even more tips for painting cabinets or wood. Check out all the steps on her blog.