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The colour

Whether it’s a bold statement or those finishing touches, there’s nothing like paint to create a unique scheme that is absolutely yours.

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When it comes to choosing colour, it’s all down to personal choice but here you’ll find some useful tips and tricks that we’ve picked up over the years.

Give yourself some thinking time…

  • Think about how you use the room and the ambience you want to create.
  • Consider the architecture, dimensions and light. Observe how light affects your room at different times of day, such as streaming sunlight or lamplight. Consider which time of day the room will be used most. You can read more about colour and light below.
  • Think about the flow from room to room. For example, if you have a pale or neutral colour in a hallway leading directly to a room painted with a very strong colour, the effect may be jarring.
  • Creating the perfect scheme means deciding what’s right for you. Trust your instincts and choose colours that you are naturally drawn to. Remember, you’ll need to feel comfortable living with these colours long-term.
  • Buy a tester pot or two. There’s nothing like seeing the paint in situ so try out a few small areas first or paint a piece of paper and move it around your room to observe how it looks in the changing light throughout the day.
  • Consider the right finish for your room. For example, our flat/matt emulsions give a sophisticated chalky finish that absorbs light and adds depth - perfect for elegant sitting and dining rooms. Conversely, busy family rooms, bathrooms, kitchens and hallways may take a knock or two so will benefit from a durable finish, such as Zoffany’s Elite Emulsion or Sanderson’s Water-Based Eggshell. Find out more about our paint finishes, aftercare and recommendations here.

Decorating styles

Different colour combinations can dramatically alter the feel of a room, so it’s important to think about the effect you’d like to achieve.

Contrasting

The traditional combination of coloured walls with lighter, often white, woodwork. This contrast makes the main colour look more intense. It also accentuates architectural features and gives woodwork a crisp, fresh look - especially when a cool dominant colour is paired with white woodwork.

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Complementary

One main colour is used on the walls with complementary colours used for ceilings, architectural features, window frames and skirting boards. To enhance the feeling of space, a lighter colour can be used on the walls accompanied by a darker shade on the woodwork.

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Co-ordinating

Three or four different tints from a single colour group are used to create harmonious accents on walls, woodwork, fireplaces, ceilings and furniture, usually with lighter tints applied to woodwork and ceilings. Try Zoffany's quarter, half, full and double tints to create this look.

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Colour tips

COOLER TONES - As a general rule, cool colours can make a room feel larger. However, be careful with stronger shades of blue and green as they can make a room feel cold.

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WARMER TONES - Warm colours usually make a room feel smaller and more intimate.

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SERENE SPACES - If your goal is to create a calm, serene space, opt for a monochromatic scheme with a neutral colour. Dramatic contrasts and strong colours may have more impact, but they can make a room feel less calming.

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COMBINING COLOURS - Combine three or four colours to create greater visual interest and sophistication. To maximise light and space, use the lightest colour on the largest area. Painting skirting boards, windows and other woodwork with a contrasting darker colour will make the walls appear even lighter.

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TONAL COLOURS - If you’re nervous about combining colours, try using different tints from one colour group to guarantee a harmonious and perfectly co-ordinated result.

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MONOCHROMATIC LEVELS - For multi-level houses, consider using a darker tint on the lower floors and a progressively lighter tint from the same colour group on each floor. This creates the sense of each floor becoming brighter and airier as you ascend.

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Colour and light

Colours can change dramatically in different light, so it’s important to understand how shades may alter as the day progresses. Our best suggestion is to try before you buy. Tester pots enable you to try a colour in situ and observe how it changes in different light. A handy tip is paint a piece of paper or card and move it around your room, observing it at different times during the day.

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North facing

North-facing rooms can be a challenge to decorate as they receive the least natural light. Rather than fighting against this aspect, why not embrace it and opt for a richer, darker shade to create a more interesting and dramatic feel. However, if maximising light and space is a priority, then opt for a lighter tone and be sure to choose a shade with a warm rather than cool base. A neutral is ideal.

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East facing

East-facing rooms experience the most extreme variations in light over the course of a day. Bright morning sunlight tends to bleach out colours, while later in the day, as the sun departs, an east-facing room runs the risk of looking gloomy. Blues, greens and cool neutrals are the best option, both enlivened by the morning light and retaining a sense of light and vibrancy as the day progresses.

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South facing

The great thing about south-facing rooms is that they enjoy relatively subtle light all day, which means that warm and cool colours are equally effective. Pale tones work particularly well in south-facing rooms, especially in more compact spaces.

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West facing

West-facing rooms come into their own later in the day, so it’s worth considering how the space will be used. A west-facing dining room, for example, will be used more in the evenings, which means it’s vital to test your selected paint colour in both evening sunlight and artificial light. To maximise brightness, whites and neutrals always work well as they bounce light around the room. You could also try a red-based shade which will really come alive in the late afternoon sun.

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