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How to choose the perfect paint colours inside & out

How to choose the right paint colour for inside and out

Paint is an easy and inexpensive way to transform any room in your home. Painting is also something you can have a go at yourself. But choosing the right shade of paint colours is something that many people struggle with.

I spoke with Cora Collins, colour consultant, and Weathershield expert to try and shed some light on why specific colours work and others don’t and to get some tips for successfully tackling a DIY painting project at home.

Painting Q&A

Instagram Live

This Saturday I’ll be revisiting the topic of painting and colour for my Instagram Live Q&A session.

Cora Collins will be joining me again to chat about how to choose paint colours for the interior and exterior of your home. We’ll also be sharing tips on how to create a professional finish yourself. So if a painting project is on your todo list this bank holiday weekend join us on Instagram at 11am Saturday 30th May.

Dopamine Decorating - how to pick paint colours

How to pick a colour

Choosing colours is something many people struggle with and something I get asked for help with all the time. Your starting point should be to figure out what kind of atmosphere you want to create. If you’re painting a kitchen for example you might want to create a fresh and inviting atmosphere. So brighter colours will be ideal. If on the other hand you’re painting a bedroom, you will want to create a calm and restful atmosphere. So softer, more muted paint colours that create a tranquil feeling are an excellent choice.

The next thing to consider is the orientation of the room. With north-facing rooms, you should try to make them feel cosy so warm earthy shades work best. In sunnier rooms, you have more options and can play with both dark and light tones.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choice, it’s important to test out a colour in the room you intend to paint. ‘Testing a colour on an A4 piece of card is ideal,’ says Collins. Some paint manufacturers sell A4 sample cards meaning you don’t need to paint one yourself.

‘A tip I always give is to fold the card in half as though you are looking at the paint in the corner. This shows the colour at its most intense as it reflects onto itself,’ says Collins. Doing this will give you an excellent indication of how the colour is going to perform under different lighting conditions but make sure you carry out this test in the room you intend to paint.

Paint colours

How to achieve a professional finish

When it comes to achieving a proper finish, preparation is critical. I asked Cora what advice she would give to help people achieve a professional finish?

If you want a professional finish and you are doing the work yourself don’t be in a hurry to put the colour on the wall,’ says Collins. ‘Choose good quality products,’ she recommends. Cheaper quality paint often means you need more coats, which means more paint, more work and not much of a saving. Your choice of finish is important too. Collins recommends eggshell for woodwork and something like Diamond Matt for walls.

‘If you spend the first half of the day preparing you will make the job look better and make life easier for yourself in the long run,’ says Collins

‘Start by putting a drop cloth on the floor. Mask the skirtings and architraves and clean down walls with sugar soap,’ she advises. Cleaning the walls is one step you might be tempted to skip but ‘it is especially important if you have a fire or a stove in the room,’ she adds.

‘For woodwork, I always suggest water-based as it is so much easier for the amateur painter. You can clean your brush with water and you can do two coats in a day. Leave it till last and always lightly sand before and between coats.’

People probably need more help when choosing exterior colours than in any other area of colour selection.

Cora Collins
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Exterior painting project

Because of the soft light we get in Ireland, choosing exterior colours can be particularly challenging. Strong or vibrant paint colours that look fantastic in sunnier countries are too strong here and tend to look garish. Whereas paler shades can look clinical and cold.

‘People probably need more help when choosing exterior colours than in any other area of colour selection,’ says Collins. It is a big commitment. On average people paint their exterior every 5 or 6 years. Because of the quantity of paint needed and cost of labour, it is an expensive mistake if you get wrong,’ she warns.

I recommend colours that tend towards grey or have grey in them. For exterior paint, if you were looking for a duck egg colour for example, I would suggest a predominantly grey shade but that has enough blue and green in it to be recognised as a duck egg.’

To help you select your perfect exterior shade, Collins advises ‘looking at the colour card in exterior light’. This is an important tip as the colour will never be in artificial light. Secondly, you should ‘test the exterior colour on the house and view it at different times of the day’. A colour may look completely different at midday than it does in the evening. ‘Don’t forget to test the trim or plinth colours. ‘Even if you think you don’t need to test the trim colour, you will only be using a tiny bit. That one element not marrying in with the other main colour could take from the whole scheme,’ she warns. So test all colours before committing and leave nothing to chance.

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Denise O'Connor

Author Denise O'Connor

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