How to choose the right colours for your home and what to bear in mind when deciding
Where do I start?
Deciding on the colours to use for a room, or a whole house, can be a challenge with many factors at play. Here’s what to bear in mind and how to go about it.
• Start by working out which items are going to stay in the rooms and what colour they are, for instance large furniture or carpets.
• If you have a bold colour in mind for one of the rooms you plan to decorate start there. Try looking at our colour themes or online for inspiration.
• Alternatively you can start with the largest or most central room that you plan to decorate and work outwards.
• There are various ways in which you can choose your colour schemes – have a look at our Colour combination page to find out all about them.
• If you are decorating a whole house and want to go with some bolder colour choices you could keep connecting areas neutral to balance out the house and ensure there’s no clashing.
• It’s worth considering the type of mood that your colours will evoke – read our Colour meaning article to find out more.
• Bear in mind which way your room faces –
o North facing rooms are usually cooler and the light is harsher. Artists choose north facing rooms as the light provides truer colour rendition. Northern light tends to bring out the cooler tones within a colour, so if you’re using a lighter tone, avoid anything with a green or grey base. Yellow based colours will help to bounce as much light around the room as possible.
o Rooms facing south are usually full of warm light all day and are easy to decorate as you can usually use whatever colour you like.
o East facing rooms are likely to be bright and warm in the morning but cooler in the afternoon and the opposite is true for west facing rooms. It’s a good idea to think about what time of day you are most likely to use these rooms since a west facing room will receive sunlight in the hottest part of the day. Light in west facing rooms can appear a little blue so you may want to go with this and use a blue or green shade.
• Once you’re ready to go and pick paint colours at a shop remember that colours can look completely different in your home due to the light in the room and on the amount you can see – after all a room with a feature wall of bold colour looks completely different to the whole room painted in the same colour.
• Colours often look lighter on the small sample cards than on a wall, so if in doubt choose a couple of shades lighter.
• Try to paint as large a section as possible with sample pots – at least 60cm square. If you paint it onto lining paper you can check how it looks on different walls in the room, in different lights.
• Overestimate the amount of paint or wallpaper you need – (you should be able to return unopened wallpaper rolls and tins of paint unless mixed for you). It’s incredibly difficult to match wallpaper or paint from different batches (even when the paint is mixed at the same location).
• Remember that once you’ve decorated lighting and accessories (see our Accessories article) can also alter the mood of a room quite dramatically.