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Choosing paint colours and colour schemes

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

We are often asked by clients to help them chose a paint colour for a particular room in their house. As much as we are happy to provide them with our colour consultancy service, it includes much more than just suggesting a paint colour that they might like or one that we have successfully used on another project.

A collection of interiors images and paint chips combining into a successful neutral colour palette for decorating.
Neutral colour palette

Frequently people come to us saying they loved a particular colour in their friend’s house but when they use it, it looked grey rather than green for example.

So, what do you need to take into consideration when choosing paint colours for a room (or rooms)?

1) What paint colours you actually like – because greige may be on trend, there is no point in using it if you don’t really like it. Remember, you are decorating for you, and your family, not to impress your friends or do what you perceive to be the right thing (or what you have seen in Instagram)! We ask clients to look in their wardrobe for an idea of the colours that they are attracted to!

2) Do not assume because you like the colour on an online image that it will look the same in your house. Online images have all be filtered and are never a true representation of a colour.

An antique french style bedside table with blue walls and red accents.  A bold patterned headboard in red, blue and white.
A colourful master bedroom using blues, neutrals and red

3) Light – the light you have in a room is probably the biggest influencer on the colour that you see. A cool light in a north facing room will make all colours look greyer, compared with a warm south facing light that instantly make colours look warmer. So, a very neutral soft grey pink in a north facing room could look like a rather sickly girly pink in a south facing room. Also, the colour will change depending on the time of the day and the light that you get.

4) What other paint colours have you got in the house? Have you got a palette of colours that flow well from room to room? We wouldn’t recommend the same colour throughout, as you want some differentiation and interest, but equally you don’t want to have a nasty visual surprise when you open a door to a room and it just feels at odds with the room it is coming off. Think about your wider palette and your ‘red thread’. The red thread may be one colour that is a constant throughout the house. It may be green on the walls in one room and then green cushions in another, and then artwork with green in, in another, for example.

5) Consider the intensity and tone of the colour in relation to other colours you have in the house. These can all play a part in making a scheme feel cohesive or at odds. You don’t want the same colour but having similar tones or tonal colours can help the feeling of cohesiveness.

When you have found a colour (or a few) that you think might work paint the tester pot up onto wallpaper lining paper. Use the whole pot – you will only throw it away otherwise, anyway! A tiny little square on one wall does not help at all in the decision at all. Hang a strip of the paper on all 4 walls of the room and look at how the colour changes in the light at different times of the day. Consider it for a few days at least before taking the plunge.

A living room painted in Farrow & Ball oval room blue paint and teal / blue velvet arm chairs.  Oriental wooden furniture with gold accents
A living room painted in Farrow & Ball Oval Room Blue

Remember that more expensive paints will have better quality pigments in and will generally give you better tones than the cheaper paints. With these pigments, however, you may get more variation as the light changes.

One last piece of advice - be brave when choosing paint colours - commit fully to the colour that you have chosen. Only using it in a small area often just looks lacking and fails to give you the look you were after. Once all of the furniture is back in the room it will all come together!

Good Luck!

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