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

We're all making this mistake

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.

blue living room with grey sofa and book shelf

(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

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.'

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!

Rebecca Knight
Deputy Editor, Digital

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.