Friday 22 February 2019

Interior architect Roisin Lafferty - Five tips to choose the right paints for your home

Photo: Fleetwood Paint
Photo: Fleetwood Paint

Meadhbh McGrath

The task of choosing a colour scheme for the home is often a daunting one. With reams of charts and endless Pinterest boards to offer inspiration, you can feel swamped by choice.

Last month, a woman was spotted at a David Hockney exhibition in London's Tate Britain intently studying the painter's famous swimming pool and wielding a handful of colour swatches. Was it more of an 'aquamarine' or a 'bevelled glass'?

The abundance of ideas - and the scope for expensive mistakes - can be overwhelming, so Meadhbh McGrath asked Roisin Lafferty, interior architect with Kingston Lafferty Design, for her expert tips on getting started. Roisin is an ambassador for Fleetwood Paint ( as well as for House 2017, the high-end interiors show running at Dublin's RDS from May 26-28. 

1 Think about flow

For some, establishing a sense of flow in a home means painting every room the same shade. But Lafferty says it's often better to use complementary tones: you could have more serene, calming shades for a bedroom and opt for more drama in a hallway, so the atmosphere evolves as you move through the house. "The room colours can all be different but to achieve a seamless journey, it is important that they complement each other," she explains. "Painting doors, skirtings and architraves in the main wall colours will help to soften the spaces." The key to achieving harmony is to avoid yellow-based paints and choose a grey base tone. "As long as you have that muted base, even if the colours change, you still get that nice consistency."

2 Sample, sample, sample…

Before committing to a single colour, Lafferty recommends painting large samples on a few walls within the room and considering how it looks throughout the day and at night, as artificial light can have a big impact.

"Light plays a huge part in how we see and perceive colour. Consider the orientation of the room and look at the colours in both natural and artificial light to make sure you like it," she advises, pointing out that a shade can look entirely different in different houses, or even various walls in the same room, depending on the orientation and lighting.

3 Embrace complementary tones

Lafferty advocates layering colour as the best way to add depth and interest to a space, and she suggests bringing in a range of shades from the same colour family to create subtle contrasts and give a room a lovely rich feel.

"Take your main colour and try to incorporate different tones of the same colour. For example, paint bookcases in a slightly lighter or darker version of the wall colour for a more dramatic effect," she says. "If you are not brave enough to use your favourite strong colour on the wall, look at softer tones for the walls and paint an existing piece of furniture in the braver tone to make a statement."

4 Have fun

"Your home should be a place that makes you happy so try not to be too precious about it," says Lafferty. "Paint is the single most transformative tool in interiors: it's accessible and easy to use."

She recommends being playful with pops of colour and finishes, such as a gloss, which can change the feeling of a space. Introduce a statement colour by framing an archway in contrasting tones, or painting a large square frame of colour behind an artwork or mirror to draw the eye and accentuate key colours.

While there is "no right or wrong way to use colour", be cautious about closely following trends. "Take trends with a pinch of salt: like fashion, there's a new colour of the moment, and you have to like it. Sometimes it's good to add touches of trends, but I wouldn't decorate your whole house based on trends."

5 Fail to prepare…

Lafferty says one of the biggest mistakes she comes across with colour is the use of incorrect finishes and primers, which tends to leave homeowners not getting the wear needed from their paint. "A good painting finish comes down to good preparation," she says. "The painting itself isn't what takes the time: it is making sure the surfaces are ready to take the paint. Whether it's a painter or yourself, make sure to get the most suitable products, and clean, sand, fill and prime in advance of painting." She advises discussing the best products to use with consultants at specialist paint shops before buying.

Irish Independent

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