Paint is not the Problem!

Updated: Feb 17

One of the questions I am most often asked right out of the gate when working with a new client is what colour do you think I should paint my room? I hesitate to answer and most often don't right away because that is a question that requires a lot of thought and research before I can give a proper suggestion. The fact is, that if you feel there is something about your space that is just not working for you, chances are the problem is not the paint!

You see, in the process of creating a room, putting the paint on the walls is usually one of the first things to happen. However, in the process of good design it is usually one of the last decisions to me be made. A well designed space starts with a jumping off point and the paint chip is just not it. For me design inspiration can be found everywhere but in order to keep things simple for those of you that decide to go it alone, I suggest looking to materials such as fabric, artwork, upholstery, countertops, tile or wallpaper first. There are literally endless options available for paint colour, in fact you can even create a custom colour if you don't find a swatch that you like. However, there are limited options for these other materials so work on those first. Put together a collection of items that you want to use in the space and look at them all together. Then select a paint colour that best co-ordinates with all of those items depending on the look you are going for. Sometimes I like bold saturated colours with contrast, other times I like softly layered neutrals and often times I just use white. There is no such thing as a bad paint colour if it works well in the overall design.

Neutral walls are often a good choice if you have artwork that you would like to highlight. In this living space below that's just what we did. A timeless neutral is the perfect backdrop to the clients amazing art collection. We pulled the fabric colours for the pillows, accents and drapery from the paintings and it all comes together to create a harmonious space.

It's the thoughtfully selected materials and finishes in a space that make for a well designed room, one that you will love to spend time in. For example, my idea for the pink door and the navy blue walls in the image below came from the fabrics that I collected while travelling as well as the photograph I took of a bridge in Paris. I used the colours in these items as inspiration for my space. It's definitly bold and daring but works in this case.

You don't have to travel or collect art to find inspiration for your paint colour. Maybe you find one amazing pillow or have a favourite vase on display or perhaps you are renovating your kitchen and you've fallen in love with one particular colour of counter top, as did my clients for this kitchen below. As long as you find a jumping off point it doesn't really matter what the item is. Just know that the paint store should not be the first place that you visit before you begin. Paint stores can help you match pretty much any colour from an item once you are ready to move forward. Most good quality paint retailers will have helpful people on staff to guide you. Simply bring in a few of your inspiration items and show them. It is pretty much impossible to select a paint colour from a photo on a phone screen or from a verbal description.

Choosing a colour for your walls doesn't have to be stressful. Take some time to think about it and make an informed decision. And remember at the end of the's just paint. :)


Laurie Sprague Designs, St. Catharines, ON