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Painting ideas: using colour in your home – bold is back

By Rebecca Milligan

We’ve passed peak taupe and grey has had its day. Our Which? Trusted traders tell us that more clients are making the most of their home with bold paint colour choices.
dark blue painted room with purple cushion

Colour plays a huge part in how we perceive our surroundings. Painting a room instantly gives it a fresh feel and changes its ambiance. There has long been a fashion for neutrals and, more recently, greys in interior design. But with more design advice and ideas available in magazines, TV programmes and online, many people are gaining in confidence when it comes to making a bolder statement.

Which? Trusted trader Paint the Town Green has its own paint range, and dark blues and strong greens have been much in demand this year. Kerry Eddy from Interior Design Studio UK Ltd has also found a navy scheme with copper highlights has been popular with her customers, with greens dominating the pattern books. Accent colours can really bring colour schemes to life, and they’re not always what you expect. Roxanne Bartley from Bartley Interiors Ltd gave the example of grey and yellow.

If you’d like a colour consultation or advice about your decorating choices, find a Which? Trusted Trader-endorsed interior designer in your area.

Paint colour principles

Whether you go it alone or have a scheme designed for you by the professionals, there are some general rules to bear in mind when painting and decorating.

  • Build a paint colour scheme around what you already have

Unless you’re planning to throw everything out and have a total revamp, oligarch style, you need your new paint-colour scheme to work with your existing furniture. You can turn this to your advantage by choosing a paint colour in some artwork, wallpaper or a cushion as the starting point for your new scheme. ‘Choose something you love,’ says Phil. Kerry agrees, explaining how she works with her clients, building from what they like and then selecting patterns and ideas from pattern books.

  • Think about how light works with the paint in each room

The paint colour you choose needs to work with the sunlight, fabrics and furniture in the room, advises Which? Trusted trader Phil Robinson from Paint the Town Green.

Tester pots can be particularly helpful when assessing how light falls in a room. Phil says: ‘When you try a paint, do it on a piece of paper, then pin it up in different parts of the room. Look at it at different times of day because the light will have a big impact on it.’

  • Think about the function of each room you paint

How do you want to use the space? The ambiance and light levels you want in a bedroom will be different from what you need in a kitchen. According to Roxanne, stone-coloured paints are popular in kitchens, to complement marble and granite surfaces. She also tends to avoid bold base colours when painting bedrooms, in favour of something softer and more relaxing.

Kerry Eddy, from Which? Trusted trader Interior Transformation Studio UK Ltd, said you use a certain amount of common sense. Lighter shades will give a feeling of space in a closed-in area.

  • Look at each room as a unique space

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that a paint colour you’ve seen elsewhere will look as good in your home. ‘It’s important to take each room on its own merits, and also bear in mind the furnishings and furniture in your home,’ says Phil Robinson.

You can use colour to balance or enhance the ambiance of the room. Roxanne gave the example of using ‘a cool blue paint in a south-facing room that gets very hot. Or greens can work well leading out on to a garden, blurring the boundary between inside and out.’

Once you’ve chosen the paint colour you want, choose one of our Which? Trusted Traders-accredited painters and decorators, who can make sure you get a professional finish.

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