Bland, cold, clinical, institutional. Cool, serene, restful, neutral. These are two different reactions to the same colour scheme. What’s going on here? How can one person find a room so pleasant to be in while the other can’t wait to escape? Our reactions to different environments are very personal and highly subjective. It may depend on our experiences in certain places, but some of it appears to be hard-wired and as much a part of an individual’s personality as their sexuality.

So in a diverse world where opinions differ so greatly, how does a designer come up with a scheme that will suit everybody? Well, they don’t. Basically it’s a cruel fact of life that you can’t please everyone, and the best you can do is come up with a concept that pleases the client and, hopefully, the majority of the users.

One of the most daunting tasks a home renovator will face is selecting paint colours from the bewildering array of beguilingly named hues available. Even if you know you just want white, you still have to choose between Antique White, Dalmatian, Fair Bianca, Snowy Summit -“ the list is almost endless. There are whites with a dash of pink or blue or green, creamy whites, icy whites, the palest grey whites and pure white whites. How do you decide which one is right for you?

It all depends on where and how you wish to use it. Most people have a general preference for either warm or cool colours, and this may dictate your choice. But beware, warm whites can appear muddy and overbearing, cool whites may render a room cold and pure white can appear clinical. Also keep in mind that any pastel shade that may appear very close to white on a sample will be amplified when it is covering your walls and the colour may end up being too dominant.

A good guide is to look around at recently painted walls that look good and find out what paint colours were used. Magazines can be helpful, but artificial lighting used by photographers can be misleading and nothing is better than viewing your chosen colour under natural light. If you can, buy some small cans of your short-listed colours and paint a section of your wall with each. Paint colours will appear vastly different under varying light conditions, so it’s important to find out how they will look in your own home among your belongings.

Lastly, don’t be scared to use bold colours. White has definitely become the safe option as it allows you total freedom with your furnishings, but bold colours can have dramatic effects and are worth experimenting with. Remember, it’s only paint, so it’s easy enough to paint over. More than anything, remember to have fun with colour and use it to make your home reflect your personality.

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