Painting mistakes to avoid: How to paint your home correctly using colour

All elements of home decor come down to personal taste, evident in the fact that some prefer minimalist, monochromatic Scandi-inspired interior design while others love texture and rich colour-heavy boho style. It’s certainly true that packing paint colors into interior design isn’t for everyone, but Sophie Robinson, an interior designer and color expert, feels it has huge benefits. She said: “It makes you happy. It’s just a mood booster.” Of course, when used correctly, color in the home has the power to comfort, inspire and calm individuals, but that’s the point – it needs to be done right.

Color and home decorating experts have shared the missteps to avoid and give their advice for making homes perfect using colour.

Obsessing about staying neutral

Although neutrals are associated with the ideal color schemes for homes, Sophie Robinson, who regularly shares advice on using color in the home via her Instagram and podcast, claimed that this shouldn’t prevent homeowners from experimenting with colour.

She said: “Although that mindset is on the way out, there is still a bit of a hangover from the fixation on the property ladder and resale value of a home, and people saying ‘neutral, neutral, neutral – don’t put your stamp on it’.

“I think that created a lot of anxiety for people, who worried that if they went for a bold color in their home they’d never be able to sell their house. We’re not in that crazy house flipping economy anymore but I still have people asking me about it.”

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Sophie feels its important to make your home right for you, rather than worrying about what future buyers might want down the line.

She continued: “It’s your home and you might as well live in something you like while you’re in it, unless you’re literally going to move in the next six months. You’ve got to think about your spirits in the home.”

The expert also pointed out that homeowners won’t know who they will be selling to, it may be someone who loves colour. Sophie added: “There’s no point trying to work out what future purchasers of your home are going to want, therefore you’ve got to really do the work and work out what you like.”

Forgetting to paint other features

Of course homeowners don’t have to stick to just the walls, but before they add color elsewhere, it’s important for them to decide where they want eyes to be drawn to.

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Joa Studholme, color curator at Farrow & Ball said: “The choice of color for your skirting, windows and doors is equally important to that of the walls. It is a common mistake to default into using a basic white on this trim which can destroy the room scheme (especially if you are using subtle, muted colors on the walls) and draw attention to things you don’t want to look at.

“It is better to use a complimentary white with an undertone of the wall color which will result in a calmer more thought through space.

“Alternatively, you can use either the wall color itself in order to make unattractive elements disappear, and the room feel bigger, or a darker tone which will make the room feel lighter.”

Sophie agreed as she explained that wherever color is being used, it is going to end up creating a focus to that area.

She said: “That’s why you should never paint your radiators a feature colour, you should blend them into the walls.”

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Painting small test swatches near each other

Buying test pots of paint before committing to the full-size tin is standard practice and something that experts heavily advise, but painting a row of different swatches next to each other on the wall you’re doing up isn’t actually that helpful.

Sophie explained: “I see people creating mosaics of A4-sized color swatches, but that’s a really bad idea. You need to see color in isolation, because it will look different against other colours.”

Instead, the expert suggested getting a piece of lining paper, an old roll of wallpaper or a massive piece of cardboard and do as big a swatch as tester pots will allow. Then simply use masking tape and tape it up against the wall.

The expert said: “The bonus is that you can move the swatch around, and you get a much bigger impression of what that color is going to look like because you can see what it looks like in different parts of the room. The other advantage is that you don’t have to repaint all those little squares when you come to decorate.”

Painting a feature wall just for the sake of it

Feature walls can be a great addition to a colorful home, but use them wisely, Sophie advised. She explained: “One wall color is going to have a very different effect to four walls of colour. For example, if you love the drama of a really deep, dark colour, just painting it on one wall isn’t going to create drama.

“I think a lot of people chicken out and say ‘I want it to be really dramatic and sophisticated but I also want it to be really light and bright’ and ultimately you do have to make your mind up, because you can’t have both. I think a lot of feature walls can fail from that point of view, because people are trying to dip their toes in two different looks.”

With that in mind, Sophie feels that feature walls can be “dangerous”, because “if not done properly, they can make the room feel quite disjointed”.

That said, they do have their place in a home, according to the interior designer. She recommends using them if you want to highlight some artwork or a particular architectural detail, or to create zones within an open plan space.

She concluded: “Feature walls have their place and their value but it shouldn’t be a feature wall of fear, where you’ve just chickened out because you were worried about doing the whole room in that colour.”

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