1. It's not advisable to use a paint colour you don't know without trying it first. Don't rely on printed colour cards, colours on computer screens, the colour on the tin, or the colour of the wet paint, as these can be misleading. Occasionally, colour cards are painted and these are, of course, more reliable than printed ones.
2. The only way to get a really accurate idea of what a particular colour will look like in a particular room, is to paint a little on the wall - preferably all the walls - and let it dry, but even this isn't foolproof, as a small patch can look different to a whole wall in the same colour. Ideally, you need to live with a colour for at least a few days so you can see it in different lights and at different times of the day. A colour can look different in natural light and artificial light, and even in different types of artificial light.
3. There are lots of different shades of white, and most pure brilliant white emulsions are, in fact, off-white. Again, it's advisable to try a little first because there's no way of knowing which shade of white you're getting unless you're familiar with the paint. If a paint is just called 'white', it's often cream. A good choice for a really white white is Dulux Ultra Brilliant White matt emulsion (from £23.37 for 2.5ltr, B&Q). This is a bright, pure white and contains particles that reflect light around the room, so it's ideal for dark spaces.
4. You may want to take account of the way a room faces when choosing paint colours. North-facing rooms can be a challenge because the light is cold and blue, so you should steer clear of colours with a grey or green base and consider yellows and creamy neutrals for a lighter, cheerier feel. Sunny south-facing rooms are much easier, as most colours work, but the natural light can be very bright on a sunny day, so bear this in mind. Rooms that face west are also easy to decorate - whites work particularly well, whereas east-facing rooms suit blues and greens best.
5. Other things can affect your choice of wall colour, such as the colour of the flooring, furniture and accessories, if you predominantly use the room at a certain time of day, and whether you want to create a dark and moody, or light and airy feel, or something in between. If you're not sure what you want, painted feature walls are a great way to enjoy a limited amount of colour in a room and aren't difficult to repaint if you change your mind.
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