How not to choose a wall paint colour

Have you ever seen a movie “The Devil’s Advocate”? There’s a short scene with Charlize Theron trying to choose the best colour for the walls in their new apartment in NYC; she’s testing loads of paint, completely different colours, and a friend keeps on telling her things like “Oh, this one makes you look tired“, “This one-naaa“, “This one doesn’t go with your skin tone“…well… today, I’m going to write about how not to do it (Theron’s way is out of the question!).

When visiting a potential client recently, I just had a revelation about how some people might go about choosing a paint colour for their walls. When I came to see a client, I saw different paint wall colours tested on pieces of paper and stuck to the existing walls, and then it hit me how she was going about it. I asked my husband how he would choose a paint colour, and he said few terrifying things (for a designer at least!) …so, I hope some of you will benefit from some of the tips of how NOT to:

1) I would pick a colour because it’s called ‘X’ and I need ‘X’; example: “I picked ‘Pacific blue’ colour because I wanted the room to have pacific blue wall”….agrh…not the best way to go about it; if you don’t test your paint, you will never know how it’s going to look like on your walls!

Blue colour scheme with taupe
Blue colour scheme with taupe

2) I would pick a colour and apply it directly on the wall- really? what if you don’t like it on the wall? What if it’s not the right tone/shade? Well, you end up with a room you have to repaint…;

Pacific Blue
Pacific Blue

3) I can’t decide which colour I want, so I buy 10 different sample pots and test them all- at least you’ve started testing-you’re on the right track; however, if you buy too many, the choice might become difficult…I must say, I try to always narrow it to 3, which I think will work best;

Pratt & Lambert Colour Chart
Pratt & Lambert Colour Chart

4) I selected 3 colours and I tested them…on a piece of paper- well, I realise some interior designers will not agree with me, but I honestly don’t believe testing on a piece of paper gives you an accurate colour…Yesterday, during a consultation presentation with a client, I witnessed it myself, when the same colour printed on a paper completely different; well, maybe it was a print fault, but this raises an issue with this being used to test colours! My advice: test on a piece of wood (I’m not kidding…) or directly on a wall, but be careful not to apply too much as it will show if you don’t apply it correctly.

Farrow & Ball colour palette
Farrow & Ball colour palette

Hope this was helpful, but if you are still struggling and can’t decide which paint colour to choose for your walls, don’t hesitate to contact me. Here’s an example of how I planned wall colours in a cottage outside Cambridge:


Wall finishes first floor

To see selection of colours by Katie Malik Interiors, visit my website: http://www.katiemalik.co.uk

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One thought on “How not to choose a wall paint colour

  1. Reblogged this on P & B Contract Furniture and commented:
    I loved this. I’m about to start re-decorating my living room and although I know what I want in my head, that’s not to say it will suit the room. Great tips Katie, thank you

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