Choose the right colour for your walls with our expert guide

Choosing a colour, whether it's paint or wallpaper, can be baffling sometimes. Use our guide to make decision-making a breeze

paint bucket with paint brushes
(Image credit: Valspar)

Whether it's wallpaper or paint, colours look different depending on the amount you can see and the light in the room. Follow our expert tips to picking a shade that you will love - and that works in your space.

1. Check colours in the room you're decorating, not in store. A colour card only shows tiny amounts so can be deceptive; if in doubt, choose a couple of shades lighter. Use a sheet of white paper to isolate your colour choice without it being affected by nearby shades.

2. Buy three tester pots in related colours and paint at least 60 sq cm onto lining paper. When dry (colours often dry a little darker) tack them up, trying them on different walls to check the effect.

3. If you're picking wallpaper, buy a single roll, and pin or use Blu-Tack to fix lengths to the wall.

4. Always buy paints and wallpapers from the same batch. It's better to overestimate, and return unused tins or rolls, than to mix different batches.

5. If you can't find the colour you want, don't compromise. Valspar can create any colour you like in store. You can choose from 2,000 pre-selected colours or create your own unique colour before it is created and mixed before your very eyes.

6. If you're undecided between two colours, experiment in a small room before applying the colour elsewhere.

7. Use your favourite clothes and homes' pieces as inspiration for your colour choice - for example a rug, kitchen items or paintings.

8. Don't forget to think about the mood of your room. Your dining room might be a place of fun and laughter with friends and family, so could take on bright and bold. A child' bedroom might need a calmer colour scheme to encourage a restful night's sleep.

So, you've chosen a colour and have decided on paint - but how do you know which finish to go for?

In general, this is a simple choice: if you want good coverage and great colour go for hard-wearing acrylic, according to the Paint Quality Institute.

There are acrylics for walls and woodwork, and because they are water-based they have less of an odour than traditional gloss and are kinder to the environment.

For more decorating, craft ideas and cleaning hacks don't miss our dedicated DIY guide.

Thea Babington-Stitt
Managing Editor

Thea Babington-Stitt is the Managing Editor for Ideal Home. Thea has been working across some of the UK’s leading interiors titles for around 10 years.

She started working on these magazines and websites after graduating from City University London with a Masters in Magazine Journalism. Before moving to Ideal Home, Thea was News and Features Editor at Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc and Country Homes & Interiors.