How to decorate like a designer – choosing colours

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Are all whites created equal – Part 2.

Having mastered the art of where to source your paint colours, the next important move in creating your interior masterpiece is which colour to choose. (For regular design tips SUBSCRIBE using the link on the right!)

Where to start?

Take a look at the previous blog ‘How to create a foolproof design, starting with the end in mind’ and start collating images of your favourite interiors. (See the Beatengreen Pinterest board here).

Begin to identify with the collective feel of the interiors that you are inspired by and breakdown the features that have been used to create the style.

After pinning a few different interiors, a common style should start to emerge, the backdrop of which will be the ceiling and wall colours. Neutrals are harder to identify as they can vary vastly from soft greys, to grey greens, or putty stones but if you try to analyse these colours against any true whites in the image, it becomes easier.

Once you have chosen which band of colours you are interested in, take a look at a few swatches, taking care to read the descriptions. It is also really useful to work out which way your windows face, as some of the colours don’t perform as well in north facing or small rooms.

Decorating like a Designer


Not all whites are created equal. ‘All White’ is the truest white that F&B produce but there are so many other neutrals that perform beautifully as a white. The trick is to keep the neutral shades pale enough to paint the ceilings and skirtings the same colour, as it is most often only the contrast against a true white that exposes these neutrals for what they really are.

For example a modern interior looks great decorated throughout in F&B Slipper Satin, which is a putty, yellow-less cream and creates a light and airy, but cosy and quaint feeling all at the same time. Here the stairs have been painted the same colour bringing a harmonious feel to the space.


There are some pitfalls to be aware of when choosing greys as it is easy to accidentally end up with a pale blue/lilac instead. When reading the description of a grey pay attention to the base colour content and how they perform under different lighting conditions.

It is also essential to work out what sort of grey you are looking for and what sort of property you have as many industrial greys can look great in large, urban or contemporary spaces but feel really cold and harsh in a more relaxed and traditional environment.


Dark colours have been very popular but can look quite stark against bright whites. Although it is tempting to bring some light to the space, try to use a more neutral white to harmonise the space more carefully, making sure that the undertones don’t clash with the feature colour. For instance a dark grey paint will work well with a stone based pale neutral but not so well with a green based pale neutral. Here a pale grey white has been used to harmonise with a dark warm grey base.

Accentuate or camouflage – Colour Blocking

Lastly, there are a few tricks of the trade when actually applying your paint, in particular, where you put it. Creating as few colour contrasts as possible is really key, unless you are intending on creating a feature. Think of paint as a means of accentuating and camouflaging instead of just applying colour. For instance, if your doors are narrow, include the architraves in your choice of paint, and if you have a small room and are painting your floors, include the skirting to widen the area. In the trade this is known as Colour Blocking. 

If your ceilings are really high, apply a slightly darker shade above the picture rail and ceiling to create a more intimate atmosphere. If you have a loft bedroom with angles all over the place and want to create a feature wall – include some of the ceiling and side walls and drawer a straight line with masking tape to create a simpler and neater space.

Find more comprehensive decorating tips here


Next up, How to create a Soulful Home. 

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