House B Jozi:  Living room by Redesign Interiors

How to choose the right paint colours

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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We all know that when it comes to quickly styling up a wall or changing the look and vibe of a room, few things come close to a beautiful paintjob. Best of all, painting (when done properly, of course) is one of the DIY tasks that can be completed without the assistance of a professional interior designer or decorator.  

But where do we start planning in terms of paint colour? Do we have to factor in the functionality of the room we plan on painting (for instance, living room versus bedroom)? And how do we differentiate between the various types of paints?

Let’s find out…  


1. Which paint is better?

As paint is available in various sheens and types, it means some careful planning on your part before you can buy and start painting. The most commonly preferred paint type is latex due to its ease of clean up and long-lasting quality. It also tends to resist fading better and breathes better than oil paint, meaning there’s less blistering. 

For walls and household hues, it’s recommend to stick with latex paint. However, if you plan on priming real wood mouldings and trim, rather opt for oil-based paint as it tends to seal the wood’s stains and knots better than latex. Just give it a bit more time for drying. 


2. Which sheen should you choose?

Camps Bay House 1:  Bedroom by GSQUARED architects
GSQUARED architects

Camps Bay House 1

GSQUARED architects

The glossier the paint, the easier it is to keep clean. That’s why we recommend a high-gloss sheen for high-traffic areas (like kids’ playrooms) or kitchens prone to grease splatters. Just remember that this will make any wall blemishes and imperfections more obvious. 

Semi-gloss provides less of a shine than gloss, yet is also pretty easy to wipe clean. Satin sheen paint has a satiny smooth finish that can be ideal for kitchens, bathrooms and hallways. Another advantage is that it’s also cheaper than gloss.

A flat or matte paint is perfect if you want to hide those wall imperfections – one coat will usually be enough. The disadvantage of this sheen type, however, is that it does not stand up well to a good cleaning, showing off dirt, grime and fingerprint smudges much easier. The most popular sheen is eggshell, which hides flaws similar to a flat, yet is much easier to wash and smoother to the touch. 


3. Deciding on the right paint colour

Keep the colour wheel in mind when playing with colour palettes. The primary colours (red, yellow and blue) are located at 12:00, 4:00 and 8:00 on the wheel respectively. Mixing any of these colours will produce a secondary colour such as green or purple. 

Colours located close to each other on the colour wheel (like blue and purple) are analogous to one another and will allow one colour to become more prominent. Colours opposite each other (like blue and orange) and complementary and as they are always cold versus hot, will play nicely off one another. 

Sticking to the same main colour but in a different hue (such as mint green or apple red) will ensure a subtle and soothing appearance. 

To make a room appear larger and airier, it’s recommended to paint with cool colours like blues and greens. Warmer colours such as reds, yellows and hot pinks will ensure a more vivacious appearance. 

homify hint: Thinking about selling your house? Stick to soft neutral tones like off-white, cream, grey or beige. This will allow the potential buyer to see your walls as a blank canvas so they can easily imagine their own colours (and décor and furnishings) in your home. 

Read more: 7 ideas to increase the value of your home


4. Paint colours for bathrooms: A subtle and soothing look

Open shower concept :  Bathroom by Oksijen
Oksijen

Open shower concept

Oksijen

To paint a room in a calming look, try staying within the same main colour (like blue), yet playing with different shades for a soothing style (i.e. sky blue, arctic blue… ). Pick a darker shade for the wall and a lighter one for the trim. This is an especially creative idea for bathrooms or bedrooms. Your textiles (curtains, towels, bedding) can also be varying shades of the same colour. 

To ensure some visual detail, play with different textures and patterns for your accessories (such as a chequered towel, polka dot shower curtain, a wool and satin scatter cushion, etc.). 

5. Paint colours for living rooms: An elegant style

Living Room:  Living room by Tru Interiors
Tru Interiors

Living Room

Tru Interiors

If you want your room to flaunt a timeless look, stick to the neutrals. Even a simple living room can be turned into an elegant gathering zone by painting varying shades of, for example, beige onto the walls. To offset with the subtleness of your main colour, add splashes of colours throughout the room via scatter cushions, pillows or vases. And don’t forget about textures and motifs. 

homify hint: The lighter your colour, the more spacious the room will seem. 


6. Paint colours for bedrooms: A vibrant design

For a space that needs to flaunt some serious life (like a child’s playroom), vibrant colours is the answer. Oranges and gold, reds and dark purples are especially vibrant combinations. Create other equally stunning mixes by picking two colours next to one another on the colour wheel, and then selecting one colour situated opposite the first two. 

homify hint: Remember that painting one wall in a room a different colour, or painting an architectural feature you wish to highlight (like a fireplace), will ensure a focal point that immediately stands out. Just be sure to select the main wall in the room, like the one behind the TV in the living room or the one behind your bed in the bedroom. 

Read more: 9 ideas for painting your bedroom (it will look great!)

7. Paint colours for ceilings

Not too fond of that room’s high ceiling? Make it appear lower by painting it a darker shade than the walls. And vice versa, paint the ceiling in a lighter colour to make it appear higher. 

And don’t be scared to venture outside the off-white realm for your ceilings. If you’re scared of bringing too much colour into your ceiling space, paint it along with the door trim and floor moulding in the same shade (like a tortilla beige). This will ensure a colour palette that visually flows through the room while being quite graceful.  

Speaking of getting creative with colours, see these 10 Fabulous Colours For Your Facade


Which room in your home is in need of some painting?
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