A lick of paint will transform a space, reset the mood and express your personality all without blowing your budget. How do you decide on a colour scheme though? How do you make a final selection out of those dozens of swatches you’ve been staring at for hours on end? How do you pick a palette that you can be confident is 100% right before cracking open the paint tin and reaching for a roller? Over to Lick’s resident Lead Colour Specialist, Tash Bradley, and her paint-picking advice.
Before you dive into the kaleidoscope of colour options out there, it’s important to first get into the right mindset. Choosing paint colours for your home can feel overwhelming, but flip that thought on its head and try to focus instead on how transformative a handful of these will be on how you’ll feel in your space. And remember, above all else that paint isn’t permanent. If you’re drawn to lots of different colours, it’s important not to forget that in however many years’ time, you can redecorate and get creative all over again. With these 10 considerations, you can dip your toe into colour, safe in the knowledge that your palette is going to be one that you’ve picked thoughtfully and thoroughly.
1. What vibe do I want this room to have?
Colour sets the tone of a room more so than any other element in the space. You may have a sitting room with a bar trolley and atmospheric lighting that suggests it’s designed to bring people together. Paint it in vibrant hues, and it will feel much more upbeat than it would if it were in whisper-soft neutrals.
It’s important to have that answer firmly in your head before you start scrolling through swatches. How do you want the room to feel most of the time? Sure, you can liven up a calming palette and vice versa, but there should be a fundamental feel to the space that your palette can help you to create.
2. At what time of day will I spend most time in that living space?
Is this mainly an evening room when you’re going to want to just hunker down? Or, if it’s a bedroom. Ask yourself if it matters more to you that your colour scheme is dark and zen to help you drift off? Or airy and calming to put a spring in your step early in the morning?
3. Which direction does my room face?
This question comes down to the all-important natural light so that you can understand which undertones you need to look out for (and avoid) in your paint choices. The more that you can work with your room’s natural light, the better the colours will suit the space.
“A south-facing room will receive warmer light, and a north-facing room will see cooler light and is typically darker. West-facing rooms tend to be better with cooler tones to balance out the warm light, whereas easterly rooms are the opposite and suit warmer colours,” explains Tash. “By paying attention to the finer details like this, you’ll know if a warm white will thrive in your room or if a grey-based white is better. Similarly, if you’re torn between two greens, knowing more about their undertones and your room’s natural light can make that decision for you.”
4. How do my fixed elements fit in?
Paint palettes should always be sympathetic to what else is in the room. Identify your fixed elements in your space, such as floorboards, tiles or a kitchen’s countertop and think about what relationship you want those to have with your colour scheme. Take a marble work surface, for example. Do you want to match and emphasise its cool undertone through your paint choice? Or do you want to contrast it with something warmer? For balance, you can pick out a complementary undertone, and your room will feel in natural harmony.
5. Which are the colours I really love most?
We all have favourite colours. So, take note of which ones you naturally gravitate towards and then jot down how they make you feel so you can pick out paint colours that will stir the same emotion.
Tash says: “My favourite is burnt buttercup yellow. It makes me feel so happy and reminds me of my childhood. My mum is an Interior Designer and uses it in hallways and front doors as a cheerful, uplifting hue to welcome you home. My own home is more neutral, but I’ve brought it in as an accent colour, so there are pockets of buttercup yellow that make me smile every day.”
You don’t have to limit yourself to one favourite colour – have as many as you like. But if you have a fair few, it’s a good idea to note the colours that you like less and why – to make sure there’s no risk of you going off-piste.
6. What do I want as my neutral?
Every room needs some form of neutral, even if you’re only using it in a small way.
Remember that neutrals don’t have to be white or beige. Tash uses Lick’s palest pink, Pink 01, as her neutral in her London studio apartment. A neutral can even be a stronger colour than you’re using in a neutral way. A deep and dark blue could be a neutral that you can use throughout your home to connect your colour palette. In the sitting room, you might have used it on the skirting boards, and then that same blue is what you use on your kitchen cabinets and then as a feature wall in the bedroom.
In terms of classic neutrals, the most popular are:
• Warm neutrals – whites, soft pinks and beiges all with warm undertones
• Cool neutrals – grey-tinted whites with a blue or black base
• Greige – typically grey or green-based neutrals that sit between grey and beige and work with both warm and cool colours.
7. Are my colours harmonious?
So you’ve narrowed down your colour options, but now you need to see if they complement one another. Perhaps you have a selection of pastels – if you were to then add in a dark green, it would throw your colour scheme completely as it’s got much more depth and most likely a different colour temperature too. Tash advises: “Choose colours with the same weight and undertone, and that will create a natural flow between your rooms. In terms of splitting multiple colours in one room, use an interior designer’s rule of thumb – 60% of the room in a dominant colour, 30% in a sub-dominant colour and 10% in an accent hue to establish softness and structure.”
8. How many colours are too many colours?
“The number of colours that you have in your colour palette is very personal. Some people find too many hues too chaotic whereas others find it energising and playful,” Tash explains. “As a guide, I’d suggest between eight to 10 colours for a whole home scheme, but if you’re just working on a palette for one room, I’d say no more than three to five. You can even stick to one colour family but create a palette made up of tones from within it, like Pink 01, Pink 02 and Pink 04 which creates a beautifully balanced palette that’s full of depth.”
9. Have I ordered paint samples?
The answer should always be yes. Even the most visually minded will make a more informed colour palette choice if they’ve tried out their colours using samples. By this point, Tash suggests ordering no more than 12 samples for a whole home’s scheme and if you can stick to five in a one-room palette so the process doesn’t become overwhelming but enjoyable.
Lick’s peel-and-stick samples mean you can put them onto your walls and leave them there for a day or two to appreciate them at different points of the day and in different lights. Then, when you’re happy, simply peel them away and you’re not left with splashes of paint on your walls until decorating day comes.
10. Does this feel like me?
The golden rule is to make sure your palette makes you happy, and it feels just right for you and only you. It’s all too easy to be persuaded by trends or what’s going to add the most value to your home, but this is your space; your sanctuary; your walls, and you need to know these colours are going to lift your spirits every day of the week. If not, go back to point one and repeat. But all being well, now’s the time to bite the bullet and get creative in your home with Lick.