The Process of Paint Picking

FRANCIS BRENNAN shares his tips on how to choose the PERFECT PAINT COLOURS for your home …


Paints might seem like a much simpler option after the challenges of wallpaper hanging, and they are certainly easier to apply – if not as good at covering imperfections. Paints used to be oil-based, and take ages to dry – maybe that’s where the expression ‘watching paint dry’ comes from! – as well as having terrible fumes. Nowadays, most paints are water-based, also called ‘latex’, so they dry more quickly and are less smelly, but they are less hard-wearing and you might need to apply more coats to get the same effect.

When it comes to colour, really, your choices are limitless nowadays, but here are a few little guidelines:

  • If you’re moving into a new house, you might be tempted to paint the rooms before you move your furniture in. Don’t! The paint colour will look completely different when you have your things in it. It might clash with your new sofa or dining table. Wait until you’ve settled in before you let loose with the paintbrush.
  • Always bring your colour charts home, so that you can see them in the kind of light you have in your home. That way, your colour choice will be truly accurate.
  • Painting the walls should be last when you are decorating your home. Think about it. Are you going to buy furniture and bedlinen that matches the colour of your walls, or vice versa?
  • With all of the colours available to us, and all of the ranges, it can be overwhelming, so narrow down your options by avoiding a few common mistakes. For instance, black is all the rage as an interior colour at the moment – but think about how it will look on a gloomy Irish December morning! Darker colours might look bold, but they can also make a room seem as if it’s closing in on you, if you haven’t got lots of natural light.
  • A friend of mine painted her kitchen an eye-watering shade of yellow, because she thought it would make it look nice and bright – be careful with colour. It can be tempting to opt for cheery bright colours, but think about actually living with livid red walls or an orange bathroom! If you’d like to try colour, why not paint in a matte finish – it’s less lurid than gloss – and paint one wall to make colour ‘pop’, and not hurt your eyes.
  • Paint your samples on your walls not just in little dabs, but in a nice big stripe – and paint on walls that have direct sunlight and walls that don’t to get a real idea of colour. Also, think about how your paint colour will look with your flooring.
  • A few years ago, we all went mad with ‘accent’ and ‘feature’ walls – but these can be hard to get right. If you have a hideous fireplace that you can’t afford to change, don’t make this your accent wall! Similarly don’t make a feature out of the door that leads to the hall or the stairs. Make it something that you’d like to highlight, like your lovely bay window or your vintage Aga.
  • On the other hand, don’t chicken out and paint everything in magnolia. If you make a mistake with a colour, so what? You can paint over it! Be brave and give more interesting colours a shot.
  • White can look fantastic, but it won’t brighten a gloomy room – instead, it might make it look a bit grubby and faded. Keep white for lighter spaces.

Francis Brennan

Excerpted from Francis Brennan’s Book of Household Management, €16.99, published by Gill Books, out now.

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