How to Choose Paint Colours for Your Home

Choosing colours for your home can sometimes be a baffling and often overwhelming experience. With so many options out there, how do you know what colours – not to mention shades of those colours – are the right ones for you?

In today’s posts, I’ll help you sort through your options to make choosing the colours for your home a little easier and hopefully, a little more fun.

Considering Neutrals

For many of us, having a light and airy home is a definite plus point. This is why soft neutral shades that provide a quiet backdrop are almost always a go-to option for many homeowners. If you are truly starting from a blank canvas, then consider choosing a soft shade of white or grey as the perfect neutral.

blackened paint by farrow and ball in dining room

Credit: Blackened by Farrow & Ball in my dining room / Swoon Worthy

For greys, think pale tones that are bang up to date. Two of my favourite grey neutrals is Dulux Dusted Moss 2 (which has more of a mushroom undertone) or Blackened by Farrow and Ball (which reads a bit cooler).

pink ground paint by farrow and ball

Credit: Pink Ground by Farrow & Ball in Bianca Hall’s Living Room / French for Pineapple

Try to stay away from that safe choice of Magnolia  – the yellowy undertones don’t work well with more modern lighting and can cast a bit more yellow on your home than you might like. If you want to create a softer look, choose a white with a bit of cream, like buttermilk, rather than something with too much yellow/peach as Magnolia often does. Check out Pink Ground by Farrow & Ball for something a little warmer and more modern than Magnolia.

blush pink bedroom from cate st hill

Credit: Piegnoir by Farrow & Ball in Cate St Hill’s bedroom

If you want a pale neutral with a contemporary flair, you can’t go far wrong with the delicate greyed out blush pink of Piegnoir by Farrow & Ball. It’s a grown up neutral pink for those who’d love a dose of 2017’s favourite hue.

Starting from A Treasured Object

If you’re considering something a little more exciting than a neutral shade, then consider the objects you already have in your home. Take inspiration from a beautiful wallpaper you’ve been dying to try out or a patterned fabric you’d love to use for your curtains.

blue sofa and butterfly chair in arty home

Credit: Trilby by Earthborn Paints in Meera’s living room / Arty Home Studio

Art is also a wonderful way to create a palette for your room scheme. Pick up on any shades and bring them out in your paint colours. It’s nearly always easier to start with a point of reference when choosing colours and often, it’s better to choose once you know what will be present in the room.

The fact is, it’s much harder to work the other way around. I often advise people to choose paint colours once they’ve chosen their other favourite items in the space. It’s much easier to match a paint colour to an existing object than choose a paint colour first and then try to find objects and/or fabrics that match well with it.

Going Dark

One of the biggest trends of the last few years has been using very dark colours for painting walls. There’s little doubt that interior designer Abigail Ahern has pioneered this look and has even brought out a range of paint colours in her signature sludgy dark style.

abigail ahern paint colours

Credit: Abigail Ahern’s Range of Dark Paint Colours

Using these colours may feel risky but can work incredibly well in a space that doesn’t get a huge amount of light. I’ve used Dulux Night Jewels 1 in my bedroom and with the high ceilings and plenty of light coming from two windows, the room never feels closed in.

dulux paint in bedroom from swoonworthy

Credit: Dulux Night Jewels 1 in my bedroom / Swoon Worthy

It’s important to think about the room you’ll be using it in. I find, generally speaking, that rooms that are used mostly in the evenings are best for dark colours so dining rooms, bedrooms and snugs. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment. If you want to paint your living room or kitchen in a dark colour, then you should go for it – it’s only paint after all and can be changed if you find it’s not quite what you envisioned.

Considering the Context

One of the most important factors of choosing paint colours for your room is looking at the light you get in your space. Colours will look very different depending on where the room is facing. A North-facing room’s paint colour will look very different if the same colour is used in a South-facing room. The quality of light will change depending on which way the room faces. Not only that, but it can look different at different times of day – from the soft golden light of morning sunshine to the harsher brighter light of mid-afternoon.

mountain midnight paint by karen knox

Credit: Valspar’s Mountain Midnight in a project by Karen Knox from Making Spaces

Our fair island’s quality of light tends to be greyer then perhaps a sunny seaside home in California. So, you need to be aware of not only how much light you get but also where it is coming from and the quality of light you get.

The easiest way to do this is by painting a white card with your chosen paint colour. Leave the edges of the card white (so that the colour already on the walls doesn’t cast shades on the new colour) and paste this up in the room in different areas, on different walls. Watch the colour throughout the day. It will change depending on the light so make sure you love it before putting it on the walls.

dusted moss paint in living room

Credit: Dulux Dusted Moss 2 in my living room / Swoon Worthy

And always choose a few different tester pots of your preferred colour, perhaps one from above and one from below your paint swatch card to give you the greatest chance of finding that perfect shade.

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