Shape shifting tips
It's no news that choosing paint can be a long and arduous task. Add in a low ceiling, a weird wall, lack of space or difficult orientation and you'll notice that your decision-making time can get even lengthier. "It's the most economical way to redesign a space but remember that you're looking at colours under fluorescent light in the store," says interior designer, Regina Rogers Fallon.
Rooms that face north are prone to feeling chilly, given that the light is cooler than in other spaces. "Forward planning and zoning can help with this challenge," says Patricia Wakely, colour consultant at Fleetwood Paints.
Use a north-facing room for evening rather than daytime, for example. "It's often said that lighter colours will brighten an area, which is true but I feel that it is more important to use an energetic and vibrant colour. Shades of yellow and ochre can warm and invigorate the room," she says.
For example, 'Pale Banana' from Fleetwood's new Pantone range, teamed with a warm grey like 'Gray Morn', also from Pantone, will look warmer than some of the cooler greys out there.
Spaces with low ceilings can often seem cave-like and claustrophobic and here tricking the eye is essential. "Paint a vertical stripe and choose a warm neutral and a distinctive colour that will coordinate with existing furnishings," says interior designer Regina Rogers Fallon.
"Don't create too much activity within the space - while a larger space will allow you to cover all walls in stripes, a small room will require a balance. Paint opposing walls with stripes and use the neutral on the remaining walls. Counterbalance with low lying furniture and up-lighting from floor lamps. Don't use a pendant as this will draw the ceiling further into the space."
It's a common myth that small rooms should never be painted in darker shades. "There's no magic colour that will add significant size to the room, but clever layout and choices, other than very pale colours, can still add personality and drama," says Patricia.
"Define the ceiling with a hue that will divert the eye from the enclosed space," adds Regina. "Laying a deep pile rug with a distinctive pattern and applying one of the lesser tones, on to the ceiling, is also an option," she says.
Paint the ceiling of a room under the eaves as you would a wall, suggests Andy Greenall, head of design at Little Greene Paint Company.
"If you have enough natural light during the day, a dark blue ('Deep Space Blue' or even 'Dock Blue') is a fabulous way to recreate the illusion of the night sky when it comes to bedtime."
Be brave but not spontaneous - paint colour is the one area where preparation is vital - particularly when you're faced with an unconventional space.
- Anna Shelswell-White is editor of House and Home magazine