Ask the expert – The art of colour selection


Choosing the right paint colours for different rooms is more than just a matter of aesthetics – it’s about understanding how colours interact with light, influence mood, and create a sense of continuity. Dulux Heritage’s Dawn Scott paints in some of the details

What factors should be considered when choosing paint colours for different rooms?

The way sunlight enters a space and the direction a room faces can significantly affect how colours are perceived. As such, light needs to be factored into the colour selection process.

For instance, when decorating a north facing room, it’s best to avoid pale tones as they can look overly cool and washed-out in a room that receives little natural light. Warmer
tones like Bathstone Beige, a rich, mid-toned cream with a warm yellow hue, can naturally brighten a space and cast a warm and welcoming glow of sunlight.

On the other hand, south facing rooms, which are filled with warm light throughout the day, work well with almost any colour. However, cooler shades can help to balance the intensity of sunlight.

For east and west facing rooms, it’s all about the time of day and when you’ll be using the space. East facing rooms get natural light in the morning, so to maintain the feeling of light right into the evening when the room will feel cooler choose a warm shade like Potters Pink. West facing rooms feel cooler in the morning and brighter in the evening, so natural tones that keep the room feeling fresh and light during the day and make the most of the warm natural light during the evening are recommended.

How can you create continuity between rooms, while selecting different colours?

When choosing colours, a good place to start is the ‘60/30/10’ rule. This is centred around the recommendation that no more than three main colours are used – 60% of the colour in your home should be the primary shade, 30% a secondary colour that complements the primary, and 10% an accent colour that either complements or contrasts with both the primary and secondary tones.

To help decide what your primary, secondary and accent colours should be, look to the other aspects of the home for inspiration. For example, period features or hardwood floors cannot be easily changed, so using colours that complement these existing shades will help provide some continuity.

Alternatively, you can find inspiration in your furnishings. The colours in your favourite pieces of art or furniture can guide your colour palette. A designer has already selected hues that work together in these pieces, so you can use them to your advantage.

Which colours work best for bedrooms to promote relaxation?

While the quality of your mattress, pillows, and bedding all contribute to a restful sleep, the hues you choose for bedroom walls can be equally impactful. Bedroom colours, whether light or dark, have their unique benefits. Light shades can help clear the mind, while deeper hues can foster a warm and relaxing atmosphere. 

Green is an ideal choice for tranquil bedrooms due to its soothing influence and association with the natural world. Sage Green – a blue-based green – is an excellent mid-tone that has become a modern classic for interiors.  

Pastel shades are another great option as their gentle, muted hues can help to create a sense of peace. Lavender Grey – a blue-based purple with a dash of black – is pleasant to the senses and can instil a sense of calm the moment you step into your bedroom.

What colours are ideal for kitchens and bathrooms?

When it comes to selecting the perfect colour for your bathroom and kitchen, there are several factors you should take into account. First, the size of the room plays a crucial role. Smaller spaces benefit from lighter colours that open them up and make them feel larger – whereas darker hues can add a sense of depth and warmth to a larger room.

The mood you want to create is also a key factor. For instance, if you want to create a calm and serene atmosphere in your bathroom, a cool tone, like Country Sky, is an ideal choice. Conversely, warm colours like Red Ochre can stimulate the appetite, which makes them a great option for kitchens, whereas blue is shown to have appetite-reducing effects.

The overall style of the home should also influence colour choice. If your home has a modern design, bold and contrasting colours might be a good fit. However, if you prefer a rustic style, earth tones could be a better choice.

Choosing paint colours isn’t always an easy task but with the right approach and tools, you can create beautifully balanced spaces that reflect your style and meet your needs. 

Dawn Scott is senior colour designer at Dulux Heritage