Tips and Advice

7 quick questions to ask yourself to help you choose the right paint colour

Article by Homes to Love

Seven essential questions to ask yourself when choosing paint colours

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Whether it’s for a new build, a renovation or just a room makeover, choosing paint colours can be a daunting exercise.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1. What is the room going to be used for?

Different colours evoke different emotions, so a room that’s going to be used for relaxing will suit a soothing palette, whereas pops of bright colour might be more suitable for a busy playroom.

Resene ‘Rascal’

2. How big or small is the room?

Colour that looks light and airy painted on the walls in a large room may look different in a small room, where the walls reflect onto one another, making the colour appear more intense.

Resene ‘King Tide’

3. How light or dark is the room?

Light changes our perception of colour so the same paint may look different in different rooms. In a north-facing room the light is brighter, so darker colours will appear brighter. In a south-facing room the light is less intense and darker hues may look even darker.

4. When will the room be used?

Because the light in a room varies at different times of the day, so does the appearance of colour. Try your colour out using a Resene testpot and move it around the room at various times of the day to make sure you still like it.

5. What other colours are nearby?

Colour is affected by the colours next to it, so if your room has a lot of wood detailing, an intensely coloured carpet or a lush green view outside, take this into account when choosing your colours.

Resene ‘Whimsical’

6. What finish will look best?

Glossy finishes are highly reflective, so the colour and room seem lighter and brighter. Matt or flat surfaces absorb the light, so the colour and room will feel deeper and darker than glossy surfaces.

7. What’s your personal taste?

Create a mood board, scrapbook or Pinterest page showing colour schemes that you like. Look for recurring themes in the images and use them as the starting point for your colour scheme.

Resene ‘Sunbaked’

Expert tip:

Colour viewed under a store’s artificial lighting may look completely different when you get it home, so always try it out in the room you’re painting. Resene colour consultant Sarah Gregory suggests shortlisting a few colours, then taking Resene testpots home to try them out in the room. “But don’t paint them on the wall, paint them onto a large piece of card. That way you can move it around the room, because colour will look different where the light hits it.”

When painting the test card, Sarah suggests leaving a white border around the edge of it. “That’s so you don’t get total colour combination going on with the wall colour that’s already there. When you put colours together they change each other.”

Test cardboard for painting is available from your local Resene ColorShop in A4 and A2 size, but Sarah suggests using the larger size. “Colours can seem to change, the more of them there is, so the bigger the sample the better idea you’ll get as to what it’s actually going to look like when the whole room is painted.”

To find out more or book a free Resene colour consultation, visit

Photography by: Melanie Jenkins, Wendy Fenwick, Resene

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