How to choose paint

How to choose paint

Are you raring to pick up those paint brushes, but not sure where to start? Pondering on “Elephant’s breath” vs. “Pebble Shore”? We’ve got you! Here’s the low-down on picking the right paint finish and colour.

Different Paint Finishes

First up. What is the right paint finish for your project?


This finish is very smooth and gives a nice modern edge to a room. Matt paint doesn’t reflect light so is great for hiding imperfections on walls. Plus, you can touch up areas without it being too noticeable.

The downside? It doesn’t clean very well, so not ideal in high-traffic areas.

Where to use it: Ceilings. Bedroom, dining room and living room walls.


Eggshell paint has a low-sheen finish. Yes, think like the surface of an eggshell! Walls in this finish can be washed to remove some dirt and scuffs.

Where to use it: Living room or bedroom walls.


This is the next step up and has a silky, pearly sheen. Looks great, but be aware that the shine will highlight imperfections in walls. The biggest plus is Silk has great scrubbability – marks and scuffs can be easily washed away.

Where to use it: Family room, children’s room, laundry room, kitchen and bathrooms.


This has a similar finish to Silk, but is mainly used for woodwork (skirting boards, architraves, mouldings). It is resistant to chipping and scuffing and can also be scrubbed clean. Satin paint hides imperfections a little better than Silk.

Where to use it: Woodwork.


As the name suggests this reflects lots of light to give it a very shiny finish. Great when used with pale colours, or when used on woodwork to create a fabulous contrast to matt walls.

Gloss paint, however, acts as a mirror to imperfections – make sure those surfaces are smooth!

Choosing paint colour

Get out those colour wheels! Ok, but it’s a bit overwhelming. Envisaging how a colour card can become a whole painted room is tricky. Remember these ideas when choosing paint colour.

Create a mood

What effect do you want the paint to have? If you need a calm space opt for cool colours like blue and green. If you are trying to inject energy, then go for exciting colours like yellows and oranges.

Accent Colours

Fancy going bold? Not sure you are ready to take the leap? Use accent colour!

Paint the room a main, neutral shade and add a vibrant pop. This could be a feature wall, a door, hallway or alcove.

Furniture and Fabrics

Use your existing décor to inspire your colour choice. Some paint brands offer a colour matching service so you can find a paint that matches a throw, or cushion in your room.

Colour Combinations

Make sure your choice of colours are complimentary. You need harmony in your home, rather than a clash! When looking at a colour wheel complimentary colours will be opposite each other. Or google ‘colour pallets’ for tried and tested matching combinations.

If you decide to pick one main colour – try working with different shades and tones to add depth and texture to a room.

Paint Types

Depending on what paint type you picked, this can impact the look of your chosen colour.

  • Flat paint has no sheen so absorbs all light, making colours look lighter.
  • Eggshell stays truest to its colour.
  • Gloss paint bounces light off its surface, causing colours to look darker.
Try before you buy

Never just select the colour instore. Get a colour card, or better still, get a tester pot. Bring it home and partially paint your wall. Look at the colour throughout the day as daylight and artificial light will have a big impact on how the colour looks.

Need help?

If you need more help, try a visualiser app. Dulux have a great one to try. Upload a photo of your space, and ‘paint’ it. Try different styles and see what works best. This is a fabulously simple way to get a picture of the final look.

If you are really stuck, then enlist an expert. Paint brand Farrow and Ball have colour consultants who will come to your home for a consultation. There is a fee of course (approx. £200/ hour which covers 4 rooms). But they will give you a discount off your paint purchase.

Are you ready to pick up those paint brushes now?

If you still have doubts, there is one final thing to remember. Paint is not permanent! If you don’t like it – you can change it. So, give it a go, and make the change. It might just lift the room, and your mood.

Need advice on how to paint? We’ve got you covered with our blog How to Paint Like a Pro.

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