Choosing paint colours

Where do you start when you want to decorate? There are thousands of paint colours to choose from, how do you choose the one that’s right for you?



Before even thinking about colour, stand in the room you want to decorate and have a good, long look. Ask questions - What is the room used for? Who uses it? When is it used? What do you like / dislike about it? Are there any features you want to emphasise or hide? What do you need to keep in the room? Which way does it face? What is the lighting like? These will all have a bearing on what colours you choose.


Start looking for inspiration in magazines and online. Look at different styles, find pictures that you like and then really analyse them - what is it that you like about the picture? Is it the colour, the layout, the style? Do bear in mind that the rooms are staged specially for the photos! Or find a cushion, artwork or a piece of fabric that you love and use that for inspiration.


Think about what the room is used for, or what mood or feeling you want to create in that room. For example, you might want your bedroom to feel calm and relaxed. If so, choose a colour that, when you look at it, instantly makes you feel calmer. For some people this will be cool colours such as blues – think of the sky or the sea. For others it is the warmer tones – so a red based neutral such as Farrow & Ball’s Dimity. Or maybe you prefer a darker colour, to feel that the room envelops you and gives you a hug. Painting the walls and ceiling in a darker colour can feel safe, secure, enclosed.



The time of day the room is used is also important in narrowing down the colour choice. For those lucky enough to have a breakfast room, a space to have your morning cup of coffee, you should choose colours that you find fresh, uplifting and bright; a space where you can gather your thoughts for the day. For me it would be off whites, greens and pastel shades. However, a formal dining room used in the evening could be darker, more sophisticated and atmospheric. Use deeper and warmer tones to create a cosy, intimate feel.


Paint colours look completely different under different lighting conditions. The direction the room faces and the type of lighting can strongly influence how we see colour. Very simply, north facing rooms and cool lighting such as LEDs bring out the blue tones in colours. South facing rooms and yellow lighting or candlelight bring out the yellow, warm tones in a colour. West facing rooms are cooler in the morning and brighter in the afternoon and the opposite is true for east facing rooms.


When you test out your paint samples paint them on large pieces of paper or card, using the number of coats recommended by the manufacturer. Look at these colour swatches on different walls at different times of the day, making sure that it looks the best in the lighting conditions and at time of day that you will mainly be using the room. Painting lots of small patches next to each other on one wall is confusing. They are not big enough and all you will do is compare one colour to another and not view a colour in its own right.



Choosing neutrals from the same colour family is a very easy way of creating a cohesive colour scheme throughout the house. Bolder, brighter colours can be added in to create more character and interest.


When looking for inspiration, it is hard not to get carried away with the looks and colours that are in fashion. Recently we have had teals, coral, dark blues, mustard yellow and blush pink. Now different shades of green are popular. There is a definite trend for stronger colours, either for a whole room or as a block of colour to create a feature. Decorating with on trend colours is very easy – the shops are full of accessories that will coordinate with these schemes. But only choose these colours if you genuinely like them.


Choose a colour that you love and that makes you happy!


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