Condos Photo Credit: Tracey Ayton

How to Choose a Paint Colour

Expert advice: here’s how to choose the right hue for your home.

After moving from Montreal to Vancouver, professional colour consultant Kora Sevier found herself experiencing seasonal affective disorder for the first time. “Living in an environment where there’s a lot of colour really helps me,” she explains. “On those grey days, my green living room is still nice and green.”

She knows firsthand how colour can have a psychological effect on those who live with it. Still, anyone who has ever aimed for wine-red glamour and ended up with stop-sign chic instead knows that picking paint can be a challenge. From saturation and undertone to hue and pigmentation, there’s more to architectural colour than meets the eye. “People think this should be an easy thing to do,” Sevier says, “but most don’t have a colour education.” Here is the basic version, from the founder of K Colour herself.

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1. Mind your undertone

Otherwise you just might “end up with ‘the pink house,’” Sevier warns. Look lower down the paint strip to see if your basic beige is hiding any rosy undertones—it’s easier to tell with darker shades.

2. Choose a flat finish

It looks more modern, and with certain paints (like Benjamin Moore’s bath line), it’s even possible to use in bathrooms.

3. Beware of high-saturation shades

When a whole room is painted, colour is amplified, and some can become far too bright. Yellows and blues are the leading offenders, so go subtler with those selections.

4. Save white for the trim

Sevier notes that since whites need a lot of sunshine to “come alive,” they can read as “vaguely greyish” in Vancouver.

5. Spend a little more

“Cheap paint can contain fillers instead of quality ingredients,” explains Sevier. Not only do more expensive brands cover better and wear less, the colour is sure to last much longer.

6. Test with natural light

Sevier advises against using online tools to visualize how a room will look repainted. Instead, paint a small sample on poster board and tape it to the very edge of a wall to get a clear picture of how it will react to the light in your space.

7. Forget what you know

“There are so many misconceptions about colours,” Sevier says. “People think that blue is a cool colour. Well, there are warm blues and cool blues.” Take the time to really contemplate a colour and see how it makes you feel: stimulated or calm and relaxed?

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