An interior expert reveals the one thing you should never do when painting your walls

We're all making this mistake
  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • Painting with dark colours like purple, chocolate brown or black can be a gamble. But, can look incredible when done properly.

    Related: What we’ve learnt from Interior Design Masters so far… including why not everyone could live with a black bedroom

    According to a recent survey by Barclays Mortgages, over half of Brits have used the extra time spent at home to tackle jobs at home they’d been putting off. The study revealed that 33 per cent have used this time to paint and decorate.

    More and more of us are taking the plunge to use dark colours at home. However, there is one mistake nearly all of us are making when painting our walls – not painting the skirting boards!

    That doesn’t just mean slapping on some white paint and calling it a day. According to interior expert Kate Watson-Smyth speaking on behalf of Barclays Mortgages, when using a dark colour you must always paint the skirting boards the same or similar colour.

    painting with dark colours 1

    Image credit: Chris Snook

    ‘This is really key, and you must do this if you do nothing else,’ insists Kate. ‘If you are using a dark colour, you must paint your skirting boards to match your wall, and that will make your wall look taller.’

    You just need to take one look at Kate’s Instagram account @madaboutthehouse to know that she is an expert when it comes to using dark colours.

    Here are a few of her other fail-safe tips for painting with dark colours:

    Tips for painting with dark colours

    1.Paint the radiator

    The skirting boards and radiator are the two parts of the room you must paint to match your walls.

    ‘You just must,’ Kate tells Ideal Home. ‘They’re not beautiful. So just get some eggshell paint, wood or metal paint and paint them to match the wall. They will disappear, and yes, they will still work.’

    2.Paint up to a picture rail

    View this post on Instagram

    Spending a lot of time in here these days and a slightly different angle that shows the whole room with the television in the alcove in the corner. Over on the blog I have written about how the coffee table is the second most important piece of furniture you can buy (I’ve mentioned the first too but – apart from a mattress and a sofa – what do you think it is? My coffee table fills the middle of the room – what else do you need that space for – yet is close enough for you to stretch your legs and rest your feet while watching said tellybox, big enough for books, the aforementioned feet and/or a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine. These days it’s also being used for puzzles and board games. Head over to the blog to find out more and see some more. . . . #coffeetable #housetour #myhouse #sittingroomdecor #persianrug #buyvintage #dolessharm #antiquefurniture #paintitdark #styleitdark #vintagerugs #madaboutthehouse #velvetsofa #victorianterrace #baywindow #tvcorner #hiddentv #newblogpost #todayontheblog #interiorinspo #thatsdarling #homesweethome #eveninlockdown

    A post shared by Kate Watson-Smyth (@mad_about_the_house) on

    When painting a room a dark colour, take it up to a picture rail, or an imaginary line about 30 cm down from the ceiling. Opt for a paler colour to paint the ceiling and down to the line.

    ‘What that does is it blurs the edges of the ceiling down over the top of the wall and it kind of makes the room feel bigger,’ explains Kate. ‘Because you are not drawing attention to the outlines of the room. You’ve folded the ceiling down.’

    3. Don’t default to white for the ceiling and woodwork

    ‘We spend a lot of time agonising over the colour of our walls,’ says Kate. ‘We test it and we buy samples, and then the default position is to slap white paint on the woodwork and the ceiling.’

    View this post on Instagram

    Took this yesterday but the sun was so bright it could almost have been summer. This is why it can be so hard to find the right pink for a room. This is south-facing and this pink (Threadneedle by @mylands_london) is cool with violet undertones that warm up in the direct yellow sunshine that beams in here. When we started looking for pinks we were initially drawn to the warmer end of the spectrum which became almost orange in the sun. At the back of the house in the blue north light of my office this is a much more subtle colour. But enough of that. The reason for the bedroom shot – my Christmas gift guide has reached this room. Link in profile and all that. From luxurious bedding and sleep masks to breakfast-in-bed trays and a cheeky (literally) throw this is all you need for the person whose favourite room involves a bed and who deserves a chance to relax. . . . #choosingpaint #thepowerofpaint #pink #ihavethisthingwithpink #bedroomdecor #pinkandgreen #morninglight #mybedroom #christmasgiftsideas #bedroominspo #interiorinspo #pinkpaint #whattobuyforchristmas #giftguide #dspink #myhomestyle #stylemyhome #colourlover #colourwash #newblogpost #victorianterrace

    A post shared by Kate Watson-Smyth (@mad_about_the_house) on

    This tip isn’t just for painting with all shades of paint. Going with white is a bit like wearing a white T-shirt with an outfit. It might match, but so will a lot of other pale shades. Instead, take some time to select a colour for the walls and ceiling that you really love.

    If you are planning on transforming your home with paint we’d love to see your before and afters on the Ideal Home Room Clinic on Facebook.

    Related: Where to buy paint online – and all the best paint deals on Dulux, Farrow & Ball, Crown and more

    Don’t forget the skirting boards!

    All the latest from Ideal Home