We've all been there; painting a room and the colour doesn't look how you thought it would. I've done it too.

I have a few tips to share that I've learnt over the past few years, which have helped me when choosing and testing paint colours. There are lots of factors that affect how we see colour, but the main two here are light and the colours surrounding them.


The warmth or coolness of light in the room is very important. South facing rooms get a lot of warm (yellow) light and in contrast, north facing rooms get a lot of cool (blue) light. This will hugely affect the way we see the colour. Why? It's to do with undertones, but we may need another blog post for that.

Other colours.

Placing two complementary colours next to each other will make them appear more vibrant. As an example, if you have a blue wall, and you paint an orange or terracotta tester directly onto the wall, both colours will appear bolder and affect your perception of the colour you are testing. This isn't just complementary colours; another example is shown on the below colour cards. The two swatches are the same, however because they are printed on different coloured backgrounds, the colours appear different.

So, how can we use this to ensure we are seeing true colours?

Firstly, always get a tester pot, and always test the colour in the room you are planning to paint. Take an A3 or A4 sheet of white paper, and paint the tester onto this, leaving a white border. This will ensure the colour on the wall isn't affecting your perception of the new colour.

Stick the sheets to the wall and move them onto different walls, checking them at different times of day, as the light coming into the room will change. You could do a couple of sheets so you don't have to keep moving them around.

I know it's tempting to paint small swatches all over the walls, and I have done this myself, but creating large swatches is a great way to ensure you love the colour once it's on all four (or 5) walls.

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