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How to decide what colour to paint a room

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Deciding on colour schemes for your home can be a headache at the best of times. If you find yourself in search of inspiration, this guide will show you a few ways to play tricks with colour to make a room appear bigger, smaller, taller, warmer or cooler.
Assess the aspect of the room. Is it north or south-facing? This will make a difference to the amount and quality of the light in the room. For people in the northern hemisphere: a north-facing room will get less light and the quality of light in the room is likely to be cooler. A south-facing room is likely to get more light, and the light will have a warmer, more yellow quality. For people in the southern hemisphere, reverse the directions!
What is the shape and size of the room? Small rooms feel smaller when painted dark colours. On the other hand, dark or rich colours can make a large room feel cosier. In a room with a low ceiling, a single strip of colour running vertically can make a room feel taller. For example, a burgundy chimney breast in a cream room can give an impression of space and height.
What is the purpose of the room? Cool, calm colours often work best in adult's bedrooms to create a restful atmosphere and a soothing environment.
Children's bedrooms are often multipurpose, and providing a sleeping environment is rarely their primary function. In this case, it is often wisest (and easiest!) to allow the child to pick the colour; after all, she is likely to spend the most time there. A word of warning though - you might encourage her to pick a relatively light colour for her bedroom walls. It is likely that you will be repainting it in a few years time!
Unless you're tearing out all the fittings and starting from scratch, the colour of your kitchen will probably be dictated by the cabinets and tiling, if present. Warm, bright colours like wheat, terracotta, cafe au lait or daffodil yellow can give a welcoming, homely feel. Alternatively, citrus colours such as mandarin, lemon or lime can add a bold freshness to the room.
The lounge/sitting room/den is often the most appropriate place for rich, opulent colours. If you would love a deep purple room but fear it would be overpowering, think about painting one wall of the room in deep purple, leaving the rest a neutral cream or white. Rich reds and oranges can make a sitting room feel more inviting.
The ideas outlined above are broad rules of thumb, suggestions rather than rigid rules. Ultimately, personal taste is the most important factor in deciding what colour to paint a room.


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