Best Paint Colors

November 28, 2008

How To Choose Colours, Tiles And Furniture

Q. I am building a new house and I am feeling overwhelmed by having to choose colours, tiles, new furniture, etc. I am afraid of making the house look choppy with a lack of flow from one room to the next. Where do I start? I don’t want colours and a design that will look outdated before I finish building my house. I would love to have an elegant but functional home.

— S.N., Surrey, BC

A. Picking out every detail for your home is intimidating. But with a bit of research into what’s out there and determining what style you naturally gravitate towards, you can quickly narrow down the many options. First, gather a stack of current decorating and interior design magazines and rip out or flag pages of the homes, furnishings and colours that you love. Once you’ve gone through this process, you should have a good idea of your tastes in home design: Do you like a modern, rustic, or contemporary look? What about traditional, minimalist or eclectic? Putting a binder together of all your favourite images with notes and lists of retail resources will help you stay organized by gathering all your ideas in one place.

Once you’ve determined what style you like, then start thinking about colours. Choose three colours for your home and use the 60/30/10 trick: Your base colour covers 60% of a room (the walls), a secondary colour counts for 30% (upholstery or flooring) and a third colour represents 10% (accents like throw cushions). This method helps to create a room that is pleasing to the eye by appearing grounded. Most paint companies offer sample cards showing three or four paint chips that work well together which makes choosing a colour scheme easier than ever. Use your chosen colour combination in varying saturation levels throughout your home and be sure to have a some black in each room, too — it helps anchor a space. Since you are concerned about your home appearing outdated in a few years, avoid bold or trendy colours for walls or furniture and stick to neutrals instead, using colours with a kick for accessories.

Be sure to plan out your rooms on paper and play around with furniture placement prior to going shopping (there are also great software programs out now that allow you to easily do this on the computer). Plan your home room by room and take your time. Most furniture retail stores now offer on-line catalogues which show pricing and sizes, making window shopping from home a breeze; before you head out to the stores, you can choose a few pieces that fit into your budget and the rooms you have in mind for them.

If you are still feeling overwhelmed — and especially since you are building a new home — consider hiring a professional interior designer to help you through this process. A designer can guide you in determining your tastes and lifestyle requirements and will work to create a cohesive look and flow in your home, making it truly functional and effective. A designer will offer recommendations for finishes (like flooring and wall coverings), fixtures (lighting, plumbing and appliances), furniture and storage. They should also have great retail (and open to trade-only) resources at their fingertips and can help you find what you need quickly. A designer can save you money in the long run by guiding you through the process of creating a wonderful space to be enjoyed for years to come.