How To Choose Paint Colours for Your Home Interior

One of the most common problems I come across in my job as a professional decorator is a customer choosing a paint colour only to find it isn’t exactly the colour they were hoping for once it dries.

Because of this, I’ve decided to create a simple guide which will show you how to choose paint colours for your home interior.

I’ve based the guide on factors such as the size of the substrate you’re going to be painting, the gloss level of the paint you’re going to be using, how much light the room gets and more.

So before you can choose the perfect colour, it helps to understand everything that affects the perception of colour. This will stop you from picking a colour in a shop, only to get home to find out it’s nothing like what you expected.

How To Choose Paint Colours for Your Home Interior

Now I’m going to touch on some factors you should consider before buying a specific paint colour for your home interior.

Substrate Size

Light shades look even lighter on large surfaces. So, you may need to go a couple of shades darker to get the desired effect.

Colours also seem more vibrant on larger surfaces, so you may need to choose a more muted tone.

Gloss Level of the Paint

In general, matt paint will look lighter than gloss. So, if the sample you are looking at is in a matt finish, but you intend to use gloss for the final job, then you might want to go a couple of shades lighter.

Impact of Lighting

Light can have a huge effect on the appearance of colour. So, be sure to view the colour in the environment and lighting you are painting.

As shown above, the same colours can appear to change under different lighting.

Structure of the Surface

Most colour cards have perfectly smooth colour chips. Remember that the more textured a surface is, the more shadowing you’ll get. This will make the colour appear darker.


Colours appear different depending on the environment. So, be sure to look at the colour with the correct background. In the below image, A and B are the same colour, but they appear slightly different.

Viewing Angle

Through a combination of lighting, background colours and other factors, the viewing angle can have a huge effect on the perceived colour. Below is the same colour card held at different angles. At one angle it is a perfect match. At another, it isn’t even close.

Hiding Power of the Paint

Depending on the quality and colour of paint you are using, the hiding power can vary tremendously. If you are painting samples onto your wall, this is very important to know.

The difference in colour between 1, 2 or 3 coats can be considerable. Make sure you apply enough coats of paint to your sample areas to make sure the colour is solid.

My Top Tips for Choosing the Perfect Colour

1. Browse inspirational images to get your imagination going

2. Start building a colour palette that includes the colours from your environment (Carpet, curtains, bedspread etc). It’s important to see your colour choices with the right background.

3. From a colour card, choose a shade that is one or two degrees darker. On a larger surface, light shades look even lighter

4. On a large surface, the colour looks more intense than on a small sample of the colour card. So, if necessary, choose a muted colour

5. Try to view the colour in the correct gloss level. If this is not possible, then remember that matt paints appear lighter than gloss.

6. View your colour samples in the correct lighting. Look at the colour cards in the room you intend to paint. And view them at the time of day you spend the most time in there.

7. Remember that textured surfaces will make the colour seem darker. So, if you have a very rough surface to paint, consider going a couple of shades lighter to even it out.

8. Depending on the hiding power of the paint, it may look very different after 1, 2 or 3 coats. If you are painting samples onto a wall, remember to give it at least 2 coats. Preferably 3 if it is a darker colour.