Colour Can Be Scary!


So many of us are afraid of or don’t understand colour. It’s an intimidating experience facing the wall of colour chips in the paint department of our local home improvement store – there are so many! How do we ever determine what is best for that room we’re making over?! Let me help; there are some considerations to bear in mind when faced with the task of picking a colour.

What is the use of the room you are re-doing? Is the room going to be used for dining, relaxation, socialization or creativity? Different colours are associated with different activities to enhance, support and contribute to their maximum enjoyment. Carefully consider the use of the room and the ambiance you are trying to achieve.

What direction does the room face? Orientation of the room affects the amount of light it receives throughout the day. Consider the direction it faces and what time of day the room will be used for its primary activity. The direction will also influence the type of paint finish you should opt for. For example, a north facing room will not get much natural light so semi-gloss or high gloss paint is the best option as it reflects light and makes the room appear brighter. A south facing room will get lots of natural light so a matte finish works well.

What furniture or cabinetry will be in the room? If you have fav pieces you want to use in the room, what colour is the finish or upholstery? Are you budgeting for reupholstering and/or refinishing the pieces or buying all new furniture? The colour of finish on wooden pieces can influence the adjacent colour on the walls making it look much different than the paint chip. If you are reupholstering, it’s the perfect opportunity to match paint and fabric. And of course, if all new furniture is in your budget, the perfect paint match is easy peasy.

Do you have any favourite colours? Are there any colours you just can’t live with! Is there a colour range you love and always find yourself gravitating towards? Clients often say they “are totally open” to any colour, to only start saying no when the décor consultant asks about specific colours. For example, if you really can’t live with orange or yellow, rule them out right away; don’t waste time trying to make friends with these colours. I always seem to gravitate towards blue, but there are a million (okay, I’m exaggerating!) shades of blue! Colours can be cool or warm, have different undertones, and have different levels of saturation or tints or hues. Every colour is going to present many options.

Photo by catalby/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by catalby/iStock / Getty Images

How often do you typically repaint/redecorate? If the colour you are choosing is going to be changed out in a few months or a year, you can be a bit more bold and experimental. If you are going to live with the colour for a few years, you want to take more time selecting the colour and carefully consider your choice. In this instance, I believe neutrals are a brilliant choice. When we think of neutrals, we often think of boring beige or plain ol’ white. These can be outstanding and practical and provide a wide range of variations. But grays are an outstanding choice as a neutral as well; they can be green based or blue based, have more or less saturation or hue. What I love about neutrals is that when you are bored or tired with the look, changing up the accessories is a relatively inexpensive way to update the look of a room. With neutral walls, be they in the beige/taupe or gray range, accessories can be from any other section of the colour wheel. A simple change of candles, throw or pillows can completely transform the look.

I hope these questions will help ease the trepidation of selecting a paint colour and finish the next time you find yourself standing in front of that intimidating wall of colour chips. With some consideration, selecting the perfect colour can be a fun and exciting venture and a way to express your style and taste.