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How to choose the perfect paint colour for any room

Choosing the right paint colour scheme can transform your home. It can make it brighter, cosier, fresher, and even add to its value. If you're planning a big decorating project and want to choose the perfect paint colours for the rooms in your home, you've come to the right place.

Picking the perfect paint colour can transform a room, help define a space, and even create clever illusions and focal points if used correctly.

In this post, we guide you through some of the key factors that will influence how to pick colours for a room and our top tips for choosing paint colours you’ll love.

The secret for how to choose colours for a room

Choosing paint colours for a room can seem like a minefield. While there may only be a handful of colours in the spectrum, the number of shades and tones available can send you into a spin.

Want to know how to decide what colour to paint a room with minimal fuss? Here are some of the key factors to consider.

Existing colour scheme

Where one room opens into another, consider the continuity of colours from one room to the next. If you’re opting for a neutral colour scheme, you can play with different tones, going a few shades darker or lighter between rooms for greater interest throughout your home.

The wall colours you choose may also be influenced by existing colours in your home that you may be unable to change, for example, your kitchen cabinets or your flooring.

Natural light and aspect

The amount of available natural light can help to determine the colours you choose.

  • A north-facing room will take bolder colours well; lighter colours will feel more subdued
  • A south-facing room will make darker colours look brighter and lighter colours glow
  • East-facing rooms suit reds, oranges, and yellows as the natural light is warm before midday, but bluer later in the day
  • A west-facing room benefits from warm light in the evenings but limited light in the morning, so opt for a colour that evens this out with a pink or neutral tone

Personal taste

Preference for pastels vs. bold colours depends on your personal preference, so don’t be afraid to buck the trend and follow what you’re drawn to.

The argument for bold vs. pastel or neutral colours is also influenced by where you want the attention in the room. If you opt for a bold wall colour, the walls will become your focal point, so try to keep everything else neutral.

colour chart


When looking at colour charts, always look at the darkest colour on the strip to get a sense of the true colour. The undertones in that darkest colour will show up even in the lighter shades on the strip.

Paint colours and their associations

How the room is used and the mood you want to create will influence the paint colour you choose. When you consider paint colours and their associations, remember cool colours such as blue, green, and white are soothing and calming, whereas warm colours such as red, orange, and yellow are thought to be more energising and dramatic.

Focal points

Paint can create clever illusions and effects if used correctly and can also create a focal point within a room:

  • You could paint the area behind a built-in bookcase a different colour to the walls to make it stand out
  • If you have wall panelling, paint it a darker shade and paint the top half of the room in a lighter shade to draw the eye upwards
  • An accent wall in a vivid tone against other neutral walls will add drama. For a more subtle accent, choose a colour three shades darker than the colour on the other walls
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Tips and tricks for choosing the perfect paint colour

With the above information in mind, you’ll be pleased to know there are various ‘tools’ you can use to help guide you towards the best paint colours for your walls.

Get inspired

Use Pinterest to create mood boards, pinning items that catch your eye. This will help to show the colours you’re naturally drawn to.

You can take inspiration from anywhere – a favourite shawl, the colours in nature, or even a piece of art. Take a photograph of the item with you when choosing your paint samples.

Create mood boards to help choose paint colour schemes

Test it out

Paint (or apply tester stickers) a generous area on various walls to see how the light hits at different times of the day.

For help choosing interior paint to match your furniture, paint a piece of poster board that you can move around the room to see how the colour looks against items of furniture and soft furnishings.

Go for a spin

…around the colour wheel. It will help to guide you in how to choose colour combinations for your home, showing the relationship between colours, for example, which are complementary and which are contrasting.

The magic formula

The 60:30:10 + B/W formula will help to make sure your colour scheme is in the right proportion and distribution.

  • 60% is made up of the main one or two colours, e.g. the floor, walls, or large furniture
  • 30% is the harmonious accent colour, e.g. a feature wall, curtains, or rug
  • 10% is made up of one or two contrasting colours to add a bit of ‘zing’, e.g. cushions, artwork, or decorative accessories
  • Finally, adding a little black or white detail will help to bring out the colours within your scheme
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What colour should I paint my walls?

Understanding how to choose wall colour is one thing, having the wherewithal to make that choice for your home is another.

In this section, we provide guidance for choosing the perfect paint colour for each room of the house, answering some commonly asked questions along the way.

How to choose bedroom colours

When choosing what colour to paint your bedroom, consider the guidance outlined above, especially when it comes to how you want to feel in the room. Do you want a restful, stylish, or dramatic look?

  • Use Pinterest or magazines to gather inspiration
  • Factor in the colour and tone of your furniture
  • Consider neutral tones to allow your furniture and soft furnishings to take centre stage

how to choose bedroom colours

Bedroom colour scheme ideas

  • For a clean, classic backdrop, opt for neutrals
  • For an elegant, relaxing space, consider pastels
  • For an energising, uplifting room, go bold and bright
What colour to paint my north-facing bedroom?

A north-facing room generally feels colder because it doesn’t benefit from lots of warm natural light. To counter this, choose warmer tones such as pink or yellow on your walls.

What are the best paint colours for south-facing rooms?

South-facing rooms are bathed in plenty of natural light, and they can take most paint colours. For a calm feel, opt for a pale blue or grey tone. For a cosier feel, choose a warm neutral.

How to choose bathroom paint colours

When it comes to choosing your bathroom colours, the general rule of thumb is that light colours will make a small space appear bigger.

However, many people opt for darker walls to create contrast with the white sanitaryware.

For a relaxing vibe akin to a spa, look for inspiration from the colours found in nature, for example, sage green, sky blue, or a grey/beige neutral (greige).

how to choose bathroom paint colours

How to choose paint colour for a living room

Again, follow the guidance above to help steer you in the right direction, as personal preference, natural light, existing colours, and focal points will all come into play when choosing a paint colour scheme for your living room.

The best paint colours for lounges and living areas are considered to be grey and greige (grey/beige) as they provide a clean, crisp, and neutral backdrop for your furniture and soft furnishings.

How to choose a paint colour for a small living room

Dark colours tend to absorb light and can make a smaller living room appear smaller. Neutral colours such as light grey, classic white, or greige are popular choices for small living rooms.

How to choose an accent wall in a living room

The accent wall in a living room is generally the first wall you see when you enter the room.

In a living room, this is often a wall with a fireplace on it or built-in bookcases.

The wall you select should be symmetrical.

choosing an accent wall in a living room

How to choose a paint colour for a dining room

A dining room is a space to relax and enjoy time with family and friends, so your paint colour will play a key role in setting the right mood.

Many people choose bolder colours in the dining room to set a warm, dramatic feel, whereas others prefer inviting and elegant neutrals.

The only colours to steer clear of in the dining room are blue (apparently it suppresses appetite!) and stark whites.

how to choose a paint colour for a dining room

The best paint colours for kitchens

In your kitchen, you’ll likely have some existing colours you need to factor in when choosing your paint colour. For example, your cabinets, worktop, and floors.

Then there’s the availability of natural light, the size of the space, and the atmosphere you want to create.

White is considered one of the best paint colours for kitchens as it makes the space feel larger, cleaner, and more inviting.

the best paint colour for a kitchen

Popular colour schemes for halls

The best paint colours for halls and landings are often warm neutrals and whites. This is because the hallway and landing connect to each room and should therefore feel harmonious as you move around your home.

Ready to get cracking with the paint? Read our handy guide to how to paint a wall first.


Selecting paint colours for your home interior can be challenging, with many different factors playing a role in deciding the best paint colours for your walls.

It takes time and patience to find the colour scheme best suited to you and your home. Use the guidance and tools in this post, try not to rush the process, and you’ll achieve an end result that you’ll love.

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How to choose an accent wall

The obvious choice for an accent wall is the one that you naturally focus your attention on – the first one you see when you enter a room.

Should ceilings always be painted white?

Ceilings do not necessarily have to be painted white. For an illusion of height, it’s recommended to paint the ceiling white, but this can also be achieved by choosing a colour two shades lighter than the wall colour.

Should I use coloured gloss paint for woodwork?

Coloured gloss paint for woodwork is becoming more popular. If you opt to include this in your home decoration, you’ll find a range of interior woodwork paint colours to complement any scheme.

What is the most popular interior paint colour?

One of the most popular interior paint colours is greige; a warm grey paint colour that blends beige and grey tones and goes with anything!

What colour should I paint my room to make it look bigger?

As a general rule of thumb, to make a room appear bigger, opt for white and light tones.

How to choose a wall paint colour for a cosy feel?

Lighter colours will make a room feel more open, so for a more intimate, cosy feel, choose a warmer paint colour such as a deep green or rich red.

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