How to choose the right paint colour for your roomPosted by Fiona Nevile in Cottage tales | 10 comments
“Hello, we’d like our kitchen decorated. There’s just one problem we don’t know what colour to choose. We’ve already spent over 20 pounds on matchpots.”
My initial visit to make a quote is free. And all advice on colour is free too. I work in loads of different houses each year, from the basic housing estate box to the ones with mile long drives. Gradually I’ve developed a feel for colour and which ones work best with the light in a room.
Most people start by choosing a colour whereas the true key is assessing the quality of the light in a particular room. Colour is alive in daylight. Think of colour at dusk and after dark. It’s grey moving to black. Daylight and night light can dramatically affect the colour in a room. And a wall that catches the light can look totally different from wall that always remains in shadow. Every room has them both, even at noon. So if you invest in a matchpot, test it on every wall. And remember that the little square of colour will have a dramatically different effect when painted wall to ceiling. Either a joy or a reason to reach for the tissues.
If you are planning to redecorate it’s worth investing in a few lifestyle magazines such as House and Garden, Homes and Gardens or Country Living. Study the rooms that appeal to you. And remember that most of these rooms have been professionally lit for the photographs. The top paint producers also offer free colour charts with tempting photographs of houses decorated with their range of paint. These ‘houses’ may be the corners of a photographic studio, so beware.
It’s very easy to get carried away with these catalogues and magazines and imagine that a change in colour will bring light flooding into your room. But in reality, a dark north facing room will always remain a dark north facing room. You can enhance the light with the colour that you choose and well designed lighting could also mask the drawbacks.
Avoid the mistake of matching the colour from a fabulous room in a sunnier country. Some clients chose a paler emerald blue they had enjoyed in the south of France. After a few strokes I knew that it was a mistake.
“Are you sure that you want to go with this colour?”
“We were so happy on that holiday. The blue of the bedroom was to die for.”
They repainted within a few months.
There are painting tricks too. In very dark rooms I add white to the paint that I use only on the walls in shadow. The room then appears to be lighter than it actually is and works very well if you have the time to get the mix just right.
Over the past five years or so I have probably road tested every brand of paint on the UK market and Dulux wins hands down. If you are doing DIY don’t be tempted by the offers in the DIY stores. Find your nearest builder’s merchant and invest in the Trade version of Dulux paint. It might be a bit more expensive but has greater opacity and handles like a dream. The paint that is offered to the general public is not such good quality and when I hear the chirpy,
“We’ve bought the paint!”
My heart sinks. Labour is far more expensive than the paint. The off the shelf paint always needs an extra coat so is much more expensive.
There are a few colours that seem to work well in any size of house and any room even those with the worst light aspect. These are all from the Dulux Heritage range and are my answer to Magnolia:
- DH White
- Edwardian Lemon
- DH Linen Colour
- Warm Stone
A few years ago, before I started decorating professionally, we decided to redecorate the cottage and chose a selection of bright ‘happy’ colours. After a couple of months we were overwhelmed by their chirpiness. Gradually the cottage is being painted in DH White (sunlight on white) with white ceilings and white eggshell woodwork. I used this combination for a house on a small estate in Cambridge last winter/spring. Despite the dying market it sold within a week.
Although there’s a radical change in cottage colours we are keeping the pink corridor that leads to the white bathroom. The Love Gallery just has to stay the same.
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