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Choose your paint colours and finishes for your home wisely

Before you launch into any paint job, consider our top tips for choosing paint for your new build or existing rooms.

Sure, your home’s colour scheme reflects your personality, but did you also know it can have a substantial effect on its value? According to a recent analysis carried out by leading U.S. real estate and rental firm Zillow, a light blue bathroom or a light taupe living room could boost your home’s price by more than $2,700. That’s not to say you should choose your home’s colour scheme according to what is commercially popular, but it does indicate just how important your paint choices can be.

Here are some tips from JS Design;

Consider the way the space is used The first thing to do, before you even pick up a paint swatch card, is to ask yourself how you will use the space you are painting. The atmosphere you want to create in your bedroom is going to be very different to the one you want for your kitchen. Your bedroom should be a place of tranquillity and rest, whereas your kitchen should feel fresh and inviting. Your paint finishes should reflect this.

Let Fashion Go Don’t let trends dictate your colour scheme. If you kept swept up in a fad, you are sure to end up with a room that feels dated before the paint is dry. Social media is a great source of inspiration, but remember that something that it is also fickle, so, unless you want to repaint every year, exercise caution when using it to pick your palette.

Layering There is no need to get struck by terror when it comes to choosing your colours. Start with a neutral base and build your colours by adding accents. Find a colour you like and choose a neutral version; options like sandy hues, greys, and caramels can be used as neutrals and all come in a range of shades from very light to very dark. Combine these tones with accessories and art in your accent colours. Remember, tones and shades arranged in the same vertical lines will always complement each other.

Neutrals Can Be Dark Dark colours can be your friends. Many people think that using dark paint will the room feel cramped, but it can work the other way. The secret is to select the right shade. If you go for a chalkier version of the colour, it can be used as a really effective background for hanging art.

But Go Easy on the Strong Colours If you really like purple, go for it. But exercise some caution. If you want to achieve a high-end, luxe look, excessive use of strong colours can backfire. Add a pop of your preferred shade where it will be most effective. Don’t go for an all-over approach!

Work with What’s There This is relevant if you are painting your existing home. If you are not changing your floors or artwork or the couch is staying, you need to choose paint colours that complement what is there already. Remember, even wood floors have a colour, and this will affect how paint will look. If your wall colour does not work with the existing elements, you will end up with a room where everything feels disjointed.

Be Inspired If you are starting from scratch, choose a key element of a room to inspire you. This could be a new couch, an artwork, or a fabulous rug. Find something you love that will be the centrepiece of the room and use its colours to inspire the colour scheme.

Don’t Look at Rooms in Isolation It’s easy to make the mistake of treating each room as a standalone project when it comes to paint colours. Think about adjacent rooms and how they all work together. Rooms on the same floor should complement each other. Create mood boards (Pinterest is good for this) for each room and consider them together.

Look at the Space Whether the room you are painting is big or small, dark or light, should influence the colours you choose for paint. Although stronger colours tend to suit bigger rooms with plenty of light, they can also be used in limited amounts to create depth in smaller spaces. White is traditionally used to make a room seem bigger, but unless you want a really cold, clinical feel, restrict pure white to the bathroom. Softer whites work better elsewhere.

Consider the Aspect The quality of the light entering the room will differ depending on whether the room faces north, south, east, or west. This has a major bearing on how the finished wall will look.

North-facing rooms receive cooler, harsher light, so…

  • Cool colours will seem even colder and flat.

  • Pinks and yellows are good choices if you want some colour.

  • If you’d prefer a neutral palette, choose shades with pink or yellow undertones. These will keep the tone warm.

  • Or embrace the cold and delve into charcoals or deep red-purples.

East-facing rooms start the day bright and then get cooler, so…

  • pick blues and greens or light neutrals with blue or green undertones to balance the early-morning intensity.

  • To embrace the early sunlight, use strong colours.

South-facing rooms are bathed in warm sunlight all day so…

  • Try cool colours to tone down the heat.

  • Choose neutrals with cool undertones.

  • West-facing rooms will feel warmer as the day progresses, so…

  • Treat them like east-facing rooms, knowing that colour intensity will be at its peak later in the day.

Test before You Buy Collect some paint swatch cards in the colours you think you’d like and bring them home. If you still think they will work for you in the rooms you’ve selected, buy sample pots of your preferred shades. Don’t apply these straight to the walls, however: Paint large pieces of card and test them in different rooms and in different lighting.

Know Your Paint Finishes Now you’ve decided on your colour palette and are ready to buy, don’t get bamboozled by all the different paint finishes. This is what they mean:

  • Matte: This is the most common finish for interior walls. The least reflective option, it offers great depth of colour and is great if you want to conceal bumps or other imperfections in your walls.

  • Eggshell: Eggshell paint is more reflective than matte and is easier to clean. It is most popular for kitchens or bathrooms because it is reasonably durable without being too glossy.

  • Satin paint: Satin is a slightly glossier version of eggshell.

  • Semi-gloss and gloss paint: These are the shiniest finishes and the most hard-wearing. They are best used for skirting boards, mouldings and doors, and possibly in bathrooms.

Eco Paint In the current era of increased environmental awareness, new paint formulations now contain low VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs are believed to have possibly adverse health effects, and they are also problematic when disposing of leftover paint. New eco paints return to more traditional, non-toxic formulations. Manufacturers include Auro, Biofa, and Earthborn.


Most of us use the words that describe colour interchangeably, but it helps to know their precise meanings. Here’s our guide:

Colour – the appearance of a surface as a result of the way it reflects light.

Colour wheel – a circular diagram showing the primary colours (red, blue, yellow); secondary colours created by mixing the primaries (red + blue = purple; red + yellow = orange; yellow + blue = green); and the tertiary colours (red-orange; yellow-orange; yellow-green; blue-green; blue-purple; red-purple).

Cool colours – greens, blues and blue-purples. Think water and sky.

Hue – a synonym for colour

Neutral colours – strictly speaking, colours that aren’t warm or cool but more likely to be applied to colours that aren’t on the wheel, for example greys and whites as well as browns and blacks.

Shade – a dark version of a colour made by adding black. For example, dark blue.

Tint – a light version of a colour made by adding white. For example, pink is a tint of red.

Tone – lighter or darker version of a colour.

Warm colours – reds, oranges and yellows are all seen as warm colours. Think sun, sunsets and fires.

Choosing a painter & decorator

  • Ask your architectural designer for recommendations.

  • Find out who satisfied friends and relatives have used.

  • Use a painter and decorator that belongs to a trade body like the the Master Painters and Decorators of Ireland.

Do It Yourself

  • Give yourself plenty of time and make a list of what you need.

Tools required:

  1. Scraper

  2. Filling knife

  3. Sandpaper

  4. Roller pole

  5. Roller

  6. Scuttle

  7. Paint kettle

  8. Stirring stick

  9. Quality brushes

  • Prepare your surfaces properly and protect the surrounding areas.

  • The usual approach is to start at the top and work down, so start with ceilings, coving walls and then wood work.

  • Be prepared to apply at least two coats. You may need three for a dark colour.

Thinking of giving your home a makeover? Give us a call at John at JS Design Architectural Solutions and we can give you great advice and ideas.

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