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How to choose the right colour for your interior design project

Choosing the right colour for your interior can seem daunting.

It can feel like one of the trickier parts of your home renovation interior design process.

I’m always being asked about colour recommendations as this is the part where people can get stuck or nervous, as if  they cover their walls in the wrong colour it can end-up being a costly mistake.

There are plenty of points of consideration that can help you decide on the right colour for your space.

colour for your interior

To begin, it’s worth asking yourself some key questions:

  • What is the room mainly going to be used for and what time of day?
  • Which way does the natural light work its way around the room?
  • What ambience or atmosphere do you need to create and the practicalities?
  • Do you have some existing limitations that must be incorporated into the scheme?

If you are renovating an old property you may wish to pay tribute to its roots and may want to investigate your property’s history in more detail. In very important listed buildings it’s common to carry out a ‘core sample’ test.  By drilling into the walls and pulling out a plug of the plaster, you can see all the different layers of paint that have been used over the years.

I did this for a Grade 1 listed building and worked with a paint specialist from Papers and Paints to re-create the colours used in 1863, and I also added new complimentary colours to update the scheme for today.

Colour in the 1860’s was not evenly lit in the way it is today, so this had to be taken into consideration.  Also, the vast array of colours of today was not available, making paint was difficult then and not always consistent in colour or consistency.

In a contemporary property, it is more likely that the interior refurbishment needs a definitive style, which may give a lead to suitable colours, or a personal idea that you want to try out.

A few rules

I hate using rules with colour, and, although there is plenty of science about colour it’s not always applicable. Breaking the rules is half the fun and even making mistakes can be highly creative.

So, I say dare to be different and experiment. Painting a wall is one of the cheapest interior solutions you can use to bring a room to life.

A Couple of Tips worth using…

When choosing colour or tone, a colour wheel can be useful. You can buy these from art stores online or on the highstreet. A rule of thumb is that warm colours advance, and cool colours recede. The eye will also see more of a warm colour than a cool colour and vice versa.

Look to Retail for Example

Fast food chains use loud brash colour for a reason.  They want you in an out quickly, so they can turn around their seating as quickly as possible. Hot reds make uncomfortable surroundings.  The office, however, will often use cool greys and blues because they have a calming influence.

Unfortunately, the use of cheap to run fluorescent fittings, with their so called ‘warm tones’ can alter the pure colour and turn it muddy looking and very uninspiring.

Graves Lighting

There are over 30 different fluorescent coloured tubes on the market, and this is a cheap and easy solution to bring colour into the workplace.   Luckily, interior design and refurbishment is now taken more seriously in offices where employee wellbeing and productivity is important to attract and retain staff.

Your home, however, is your personal domain and style is the real lead.  Therefore, once you have this firmly in visual format, colours will automatically suggest themselves as possible contenders. Developing a ‘concept’ is my advice (see membership side for more details – link to join us page).

Pattern can also really play a part. The latest on-trend colours developed by the paint companies, often take their lead from cutting edge wallpaper and texture.

You can think about combining feature wallpaper with a perfect complimentary colour as the paint charts these days have a far bigger range.

Taking the guess work away

Once you have a list of colours for your interior, I would always recommend you test paint colours out on at least a 1mtr square board first, and then see how it responds to different conditions and light.  Don’t ever create little sections of paint sitting next to each other as this is not an accurate test.

Textural Content

I love to use a variety of textures to give a more three-dimensional image to flat surfaces, and colour can really change with different lighting.   With the introduction of LED’ s, and other low energy lamps, it’s essential to understand what type of coloured light will hit your walls and from which direction. Velvets, iridescences and dead flat finishes add real interest to an interior.

Using light with your scheme

Colour is subjective, but lighting is scientific. If you buy light fittings, ensure you have researched the type of ‘colour’ you can expect from the fitting.   Test it out with samples of your colours so you are not disappointed.

You can find out more about lighting in the blog ‘Importance of Lighting in Interior Design‘.

Colours in showrooms will never be the same in your home.  Avoid expensive mistakes by taking time to check it all out before parting with your money.

In summary, make sure you give your refurbishment every chance of succeeding with careful choices of colour for your interior design project. Test first and check out the lighting before venturing into the practical re-decoration of your space.

Recommended suppliers:

  1. Dulux
  3. Brewers
  4. Little Greene
  5. Mylands


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