House Anna Colour 5 Things to Consider before buying or choosing a paint colour


Ok, so I’m here with the first article on how to go about choosing paint colours for your interior and exterior projects, based on what I learnt from my amazing time at Farrow & Ball where I literally helped HUNDREDS of clients successfully PICK PAINT COLOURS. I’ve heard all the colour dilemmas you could imagine.

I thought I would begin by going right back to basics with a look at FIVE AREAS you need to consider BEFORE YOU EVEN GET TO THE COLOUR PICKING and paint purchase stage! I know this may seem frustrating but by considering these key elements first, you’ll be on the road to choosing a fantastic colour with confidence that is totally true to you. And let’s be honest we really want to avoid buying way to many tester pots, or worse putting a colour on the walls which you simply DETEST after 24 hours.



To start with consider the purpose and function of the room, and the feel you want to get when walking into that space. A bedroom may want to feel calm and relaxed (pinks, greens), a living room/family space cosy and inviting (warm neutrals, rich plums and reds), a kitchen clean and light (off-whites), or an entrance hallway bold and dramatic (dark blues and black). Creating a specific feel for the room will be, to a large extent, reliant on what colour scheme you choose. When giving our living room a fresh splash of paint, I knew I wanted the space to feel bright, spacious yet warm, so I created this Pinterest board below for ideas. I ended up going for an easy neutral (Wevet), but we added in panelling to the walls to give it a bit more depth.



There are colours you’re naturally drawn to. Whether you love black and white, really vibrant colours or muted tones, there will be colours that you either wear lots of, or already have popping up in your home already. Your already activated instinct around colour is vital. I spoke with so many clients at Farrow & Ball that had lots of self doubt around colour, they favoured a colour that was perceived to be old fashioned but actually these sorts of colours were totally right for them and their home. Your instinctive draw to colours is really important because, if you’re going to use a paint colour in your home, you really need to like it! so be sure to use your gut and trust it.


Alongside the colours you love, beginning the process of choosing a paint colour does also need a bit of technical consideration, and light is one that will really effect how a paint colour sits. It’s really all about getting the right TONE of a colour and how it comes out in situ.

Here’s a quick light guide:


The light from this position tends to be cooler especially in small spaces so it can be tricky to create the feeling of light. It’s often best to avoid a white or cream which may look dirty or drab and instead embrace the dark and opt for a strong dramatic colour which will make the space feel warm, smart and cosy. Strong colours like BrinjalRailings or Down Pipe will all create that feel.


South facing rooms are the easiest of them all because they are just full of warm light and can take any colour under the sun, although the advice is to go for a pale colour which will make a room feel even more spacious and airy. Even blues work well here like Pavilion Blue or Borrowed Light , while red based neutrals like Joa’s White  or new colour Jitney will create a warm but uber sophisticated and modern look.


White walls are a great option here as they are such great light reflectors and will enhance any light in a west facing room. Soft off-whites like Pointing and Wimbourne White are great options and even grey based neutrals like Slipper Satin or Ammonite will work. Just be aware that any morning light will be cooler, and later light will be warmer, so it’s important to test colours properly (help on how to do this at the end of this post).


East facing light can be a tad blue so going for a colour with similar tones is the way forward, a white or dark colour might look cold or dull. To create as much light as possible but still retain some warmth, look at pale duck egg colours like Pale Powder or Teresa’s Green which will really come alive in the morning sunlight. If you want to use a white, choose one with a green or blue base such as James White.


Sometimes you’ll have to work with zero natural light and so artificial lighting and the hues of different bulbs is really important to look at. Halogen and incandescent bulbs throw a yellow light that will make colours appear warmer so this is perfect if your scheme uses yellow based neutrals like White Tie and New White, but may not work so well if you’re going for a contemporary or urban feel which have blue undertones in which case using colours like Blackened and Dimpse will work better with LED lighting and it’s cooler light. Choosing a bulb which emits a white light will make colours appear as close as possible to daylight, so you will see the truest impression of the colour.


A great element to consider, and probably the most fun. Think about your style, or a style you want to emulate. It may be you love the 70’s and want to incorporate some of the colours from that era. It may be you love Scandi style and love simple colour combinations like black, grey and white. You may have a thing for rustic or super contemporary styles. Or it may be that you don’t have a clue what you’re style is and that’s totally fine too, just replicate something you’ve seen that will work with your amount of light and you should be fine! A great place to start delving into you’re style is your wardrobe.


Considering architectural features is also a biggie when it comes to picking paint colours. You may have some beautiful panelling or cornicing you want to make pop with another colour or perhaps some nice window frames you want to pick out. Using the period of your property as a basic guide is a great starting point unless you want to go against the grain and create a colour scheme that is really different. It may be that you have no features at all and in this case need to be inventive with how you can create more depth to a room by using colour like using block colours etc (I’ll cover more on this soon).


Hopefully this has given you some help on how to start the process of choosing a paint colour. I think doing some homework first, will result in a colour choice which is more informed and has a better chance of success. Here’s how to put all of the above together before you head out and buy the paint on a whim!

  1. Once you have an idea of what kind of feel and purpose you want out of your room, start a Pinterest board. Nothing new here but it’s a great way to build up a gallery of images which you’re attracted too. At this stage you’re just thinking about how you want the room to FEEL so use your INSTINCT and don’t think too much, just pin what you love the look of. We’re not focusing on a colour too much just yet, this is just about what grabs you when you think of the feeling and purpose you want to give a room like with my living room board above.

  2. A colour theme will start to show up based on what you’re pinning. Pick three to five paint colours based on those that tend to repeat or show up the most in your Pinterest boards. You’ll start to see a pattern of colours you like and you may see how these colours link in with colours you already use in your home, or that feature in your wardrobe and style. Aim to pin around 50 images and from these pick five or so colours that tend to show up (it may be more or less). This is the time to head out and get some paint chips, as many as you like within the boundary of your narrowed down colours.

  3. Study these more at home. It’s a good idea to remove the chips from the paint cards if you can; other colours which are sat next to each other on the chart will be reflecting off each other and effect the look of the colour. Start to think about the TONES of colours and walk around the room, holding your chips up to the light in various places. You’'ll quickly narrow down which ones you like and dislike and now is the time to get tester pots of your favourites, three or four is a good number to go with. It may be you get two or three tones of the same colour, but these tonal difference will make all the difference.

  4. Sample by painting TWO COATS of your tester on an A4 piece of card or paper and pin up on the wall. See how these look in the morning, midday, afternoon and night light, they will change so this is really important! From this you should now be able to see which one works the best, at all times of the day, and with any existing furniture, flooring or soft furnishings you have. NOW GO GET THAT PAINT!

I HOPE THIS HAS HELPED! Any questions just leave a comment below or send me an email at