interior designer melbourne

Choosing paint colour for walls

I was recently asked to do a colour consultation for a client’s living room. Choosing paint colour for walls is one of my most sought after services. For many people choosing colour is scary and challenging and I understand why. Firstly, there are so many colours. It can also be expensive, if you engage a painter. And it can make a massive difference to your space. But over time I have developed an easy and effective process to make choosing paint colour for your walls less stressful and maybe even fun!

Know your style and colour scheme

With all my clients I establish a design strategy from the outset. That is, we confirm a style goal and a colour scheme for each client before even looking a paint colours. A specific design strategy will help you narrow down your colour paint options and create a clear vision for the space. Over the years having a defined design strategy has been vital in achieving successful outcomes for my clients.

There are lots of different popular interior styles to consider. Ranging from Scandinavian interior style to Mid-Century Modern, Luxe interior design and so on. So it’s a good idea to do your own research to find the right style for you. Instagram, Pinterest and interior design magazines such as Vogue Living are great places for interior style inspiration.

After establishing the interior design style, the next step is to select a colour scheme. A colour scheme that can be used throughout your space or entire house to achieve a consistent and cohesive look and feel.  Inspiration for your three colours can come from anywhere, a favourite colour, a favourite piece of furniture, or a colour that lends itself well to your preferred interior design style.  Certain colours are associated with specific design styles.  

interior designer melbourne
Example colour scheme

For example, Scandinavian interior design style lends itself to a bright white colour scheme whereas a modern design style favours earthy colours such as greys and browns.  When you have landed on a colour palette, knowing the three colour rule will be helpful, so that you can apply your colour scheme successfully.

The 3 colour rule

The three colour rule is a basic rule I follow when styling a room.  A space should contain three main colours broken into the following percentages:  60% primary colour, 30% complementary colour and 10% accent colour.  

For example let’s say your preferred colour scheme for your living room is black, white and grey. Using the 3 colour rule means that sixty per cent of the volume of the space, that is the walls, will be white. Thirty per cent of the volume of the space, that is the sofa, might be grey. And ten per cent will be the accent colour for example the cushions in black.

You can add more colours to your colour scheme such as metallics and again there are many useful colour palette suggesions online. But 3 colours is a good rule of thumb.

Cool whites and warm whites

If you’re choosing a white colour for your walls, it’s good to know that there warm white and cool whites. Essentially, cool whites have a blue or grey base. And warm whites tend to have a yellow base. Your interior style goal and the amount of natural light your space receives will determine which direction you take.

For example, if your space receives a lot of natural sunlight in the morning then consider using a cool white such as Lexicon Quarter as this will prevent the walls from appearing creamy or yellow. As a contrast you might use a warm white such as White Polar Quarter  for a period home due to the style of architecture.

My favourite whites are Lexicon Quarter, Vivid White and Natural White. These colours suit a wide range of interior styles and architectural styles. They also suit a variety of natural light conditions.

Testing in different light conditions

I generally choose three white colour samples to test. Generally a warm white and a cool white and then I ask the client to choose a colour too. To test the colour samples, I paint a sizable piece of white paper with each colour and blue tack it to a wall in the space.  

I then just observe these pieces of paper throughout the day and night. And I move the sheets of paper around the house at different times of day. I do this because different light sources will impact the colour and the way the colour looks.  

There are two different kinds of light, natural light and artificial light.  Natural light is direct sun light but also the light from the sun when it’s cloudy. Whereas, artificial light is mostly electrical lighting. Such as table lamps, floor lamps or down lights.  Therefore, it is necessary to test paint samples under both types of lighting to see how they differ in performance.  

Once you have observed the paint colour samples you will inevitably have a preference. Most people go with their gut. While not scientific a reasonable way to choose a sample after going through the testing process. After all you’re the one that has to live with it and everyone sees colour differently. So, it’s unlikely, if you live with other people that you will get a consensus.

I think this is why many people choose to work with me as an experienced, objective expert. 

Paint preparations

The final arrangements that should be completed before painting commences includes selecting your desired paintwork finish.  For example, do you want a glossy finish or a matt look? Ensure that you brief the painter on what you want so you ge the desired outcome. However, not all colours can be delivered in your desired finish and your painter or paint shop should be able to advise you.

Prepare the space by placing dust sheets and moving furniture out of the room so that your painter has a clear environment to paint and nothing will get damaged during the process.  There will be some disruption as it takes a while for paint to dry therefore you may not be able to use the room until the paint fumes and dust subsides.

Online resources

My favourite colour brand is Dulux. The Dulux site is very helpful as is the chat function. There are many resources out there to help you choose colours and finishes but if you’re still unsure contact us for a colour consultation.  We offer a colour consultation service as part of our range of interior design services for just $600.