The colour of the walls can evoke a mood or establish a style, whether as a subtle backdrop or by taking centre stage. In a more practical sense, it can enlarge a space, give the impression of height, and highlight features.

There are countless ways you can use paint and colour to achieve the desired style, so a little thought and preparation can take your design to the next level. With far more to consider than merely which shade to go for, here are all the things you need to think about when redecorating a room.

Start with a colour scheme

While choosing the colours for a newly built space, consider the purpose of the space and choose the colours accordingly. But while planning on a makeover also consider the furniture and the other elements present within the space.

Look at the light

The quality and level of light in a room is a key factor to consider when choosing a paint colour.

Rooms with big windows will benefit from lots of natural sunlight, so pale shades will help to enhance that bright and airy look. However, if you’re looking for a colour, you may need a stronger shade than you initially imagined to prevent it from appearing washed out.

Consider your paint colour before you start any renovation. It’s often left until the “big stuff” is out of the way, but it’s worth thinking about sooner. The reason is twofold. Firstly, it’ll give you a more accurate representation of the colour; bare plaster has a habit of sucking all the light out a room and making it feel much smaller than it actually is. You may also have no lighting part of the way through a renovation, which means you can’t judge a colour under artificial light and this is just as crucial as natural light. Looking at paint colours before your renovation begins will allow you to assess colours properly.

Secondly, it means you won’t be making a decision under pressure. Pulling out paint charts with a decorator by your side, brush in hand and waiting for a decision, is not ideal for choosing a colour you’ll have to live with for a long time. Decisions made under pressure can be impulsive and sometimes lead to regrets. No one wants that.

Test it out

Tester pots exist for a reason and now is not the time to skimp. It’s well worth picking up a tester pot of your chosen colour, even if you think you’re really sure. Still deliberating? Narrow it down to a few and purchase your shortlist.

Firstly, do not paint directly onto the wall. Waste of time, waste of paint. Paint up a sheet of card, at least A4 but the bigger the better. Make sure you apply at least two coats. Now you can lay it out with your other samples of tiles, flooring and fabrics to see how they work together. With the card swatches, you can easily try different colours to see which one works best. It’s also very useful when you’re shopping for other items, as you can just take it with you.

Stick the painted sheet onto the wall to see how it will actually look in the room. You should leave it there for a few days to see how you feel about it over time. If you’re unsure about a colour, living with it for a few days usually results in you loving or hating it. Move it around the room at different times of the day, too, and consider how it looks in natural light, artificial light and shadow.

Just look at how the paint colour differs in the various points in this bedroom. Compare the tone where the sunlight hits it above the bed to the top corner where it gets less light. The colour will vary so much, and you need to make sure you’re happy with it in every position.

Don’t forget the ceiling

Deciding on a colour for the ceiling is just as important as your walls. Your eye is drawn to contrasts, so any significant changes in colour or texture are going to catch one’s attention. If you have low or sloping ceilings, painting all of the surfaces in the same colour will give the illusion of height, as you don’t immediately notice where the wall ends and the ceiling begins.

Alternatively, go for a contrasting colour if you want to create a feature ceiling to highlight a stunning chandelier or an ornate ceiling rose.

For those who are wedded to the tradition of painting your ceilings white, I’d recommend either a complementary off-white with similar undertones to your walls or to go for one or two shades lighter than the walls for a softer, more tonal look. You’ll still achieve the classic “white ceiling” effect, but avoid the harsh tones of brilliant white.