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'Dark ceilings make the room look smaller': 6 classic paint colour myths it's time to give up on

Think white is the only colour that ‘goes with everything’? Think again.

Image: Shutterstock/kitzcorner

WHETHER IT’S THE bathroom door that needs a touch-up or the master bedroom that needs a total makeover, any new painting project can feel daunting – particularly if you’re stuck on picking the ‘right’ colour.

This week, we’re busting common paint colour myths you’ve probably heard time and time again, and sharing some practical painting tips too, so you can be confident from the very first coat.

One thing that certainly isn’t a myth is the importance of preparation. It really is key for the best finish. Walls should be dry and free from any dust or grime. Holes and cracks need to be filled in, with filler sanded down for a smooth finish, and bits of plaster, peeling paint and leftover wallpaper all have to be removed.

As for the painting, as long as you have good equipment and aren’t throwing the paint on the wall directly from the bucket, you’re probably on the right track. Read on for six myths, and why it’s time to stop believing them…

Myth 1: Small spaces should always be painted in a light colour

Yes, a small rooms that lack natural light can feel cramped if decorated in entirely dark tones, but that doesn’t mean you need to put the pot of forest green paint away. Instead, introduce light colours via the furniture and trim (the skirting boards or window frames, for example) to balance things out. If your small room does get a bit more natural light, it can be helpful to use high-gloss paint that will bounce the light off the walls and create a sense of more space.

shutterstock_1070409218 Source: Shutterstock/Photographee.eu

Myth 2: White, grey and cream are the only neutrals

A neutral tone, in design terms, is any colour that can be used as a base for the rest of your colour palette, because it goes with everything. These more calming colours also give the eyes a rest in a room that might be very busy with furniture and accessories, like the living room or kitchen). 

By that definition, you have far more choice than just white or magnolia for your neutral-toned space. Along with greys, most colours you’ll find in nature are considered ‘neutrals’, so make way for greens, blues and even reds.

Myth 3: The ceiling will feel lower if you paint it in a dark colour

White might reflect light better than most other colours, but it isn’t the only hue for that fifth wall, the ceiling. Adding colour above can draw the eyes upward and if the tone is dark, it can cause an almost cavernous effect that makes it feel like the ceiling is higher – one to think about in a smaller room.

shutterstock_1116506258 Source: Shutterstock/BonNontawat

Myth 4: Blue and green should never be seen (and nor should pink and red)

The idea of clashing colours being a no-no in home design is definitely untrue. There are a lot of unexpected colour pairings that work really well and can add a bit of excitement. The old saying goes; ‘blue and green should never be seen, without a colour in between’ and this can be the case if you’re thinking of big, bold colours. But thinking in deeper or lighter shades can be a match made in heaven. All blues are not made equal, so a navy wall paired with lots of greenery can look really stunning.

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Myth 5: Every room should be painted in the same colour for flow

It may seem like an easy way out, but orientation and how the light hits each room comes into play here. Pick up some colour swatches and check them out at at different times throughout the day to see how the light changes their tones.

A smart option that’s in between matchy-matchy and full rainbow is to go with varying shades or tones of the same colour across different rooms. Tie rooms together with a common paint on the skirting boards, but vary the shade on the walls.

shutterstock_1037979031 Source: Shutterstock/Photographee.eu

Myth 6: You have to follow design rules

The truth: At the end of the day, paint colour is a very personal decision, so you often have to lead with your eyes. With so many conflicting views and opinions, someone is bound to say something about everything. Trends come and go but we can all follow our own design rules.

Whether you DIY or call in a pro, just remember to go with your gut if one of these myths stands in the way of your dream space.

More: ‘Everyone forgets about plug sockets’: 6 common bedroom layout mistakes – and how to fix them>

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