The Complete Interior Wall Paint Guide


Scandinavian, modern, or glam – Find the right interior wall paint

Maybe you’ve been thinking about this for a while and have finally decided to dive on in, or maybe you’re a first home buyer desperate to cover up the mistakes of previous owners and make your new house your home. Whatever the situation, you are standing in front of an endless combination of colors and finishes, suddenly realizing the magnitude of the task. Wait a second, ceilings are different colors? What precisely is “eggshell”? The world of interior wall paint has a vast array of colors and finishes to choose from, and it is not always clear how best to use them.

So, here is our guide to the world of interior wall paints – from finding the right finish to colors and the big interior trends in the US.

Understanding finishes – from flat to gloss

Flat, satin, eggshell… what exactly all these paint terms mean paint and how best to use each one isn’t exactly clear. Water-based paint is the most commonly used decorative paint for interior walls and ceilings and there are three main types of finishes you need to know about. The different sheens are:

Interior wall paint needs to work as part of a scheme, not just as a color that you like

Pairing color schemes with contrasting black and white is striking and modern.

  • Flat and Matt – These paints have the lowest levels of glossiness of all the finishes available, at roughly 0-10% sheen. This means they are non-reflective and will hide surface blemishes and inconsistencies, effectively smoothing the surfaces on which they are painted. These are mostly used for walls, and have a smooth and velvety appearance.
  • Eggshell and satin – These are the “mid-sheen” finishes. They have some reflectivity (satin is slightly glossier than eggshell, which looks like its namesake), and are more durable than the flat and matte finishes. Because of this, they are often used in more demanding spaces like kitchens and bathrooms, and satin is often used for doors and trim.
  • Semi- and high gloss – The most reflective of the decorative paints, these are traditionally used for skirting boards, doors, moldings, window, and other trim. It is also the toughest finish. Due to their high levels of sheen, gloss finishes show up imperfections, so it is important to prepare the substrate beforehand.

Work with what you have, don’t fight it

When you go to choose a paint color, it is a good idea to think about what you want from the space, the furnishings (if any) that you already have, the architectural features in the space, and the light in the room. All of these will interact with the color in meaningful ways. Don’t stand mesmerized in front of the interior wall paint color wall, think about these factors beforehand:

Interior wall paint sure make you feel how you want to feel in that space - calm, relaxed, or maybe invigorated

Neutrals and soothing colors enhance a a feeling of leaving the world behind.

  • Highlight and flatter architectural features – If you are lucky enough to have fireplaces, skirting boards, moldings, and other architectural features, working with these elements when choosing a color will make your room pop. White woodwork with a colorful wall is the traditional look, but make sure to match the white with the color. Darker woodwork with lighter walls will create light and space. The same color used on both woodwork and walls is a strong, clean, contemporary look.
  • Know your light – Contrast darker colors in hallways with lighter rooms to create the illusion of more light. Small spaces with low light can be made more intimate with darker colors. Depending on the direction in which the room faces, light is cooler or warmer, and you should look at colour schemes with that in mind. Farrow & Ball’s range is formulated to respond differently in different lights.
  • Matching colors and creating flow – No matter how much you like a color, if it does not work with your scheme it will just jar. Find colors within your already existing belongings and furnishing to highlight or match to create a home with flow that doesn’t feel at odds with itself. Be aware of sight lines between rooms, too.
  • Setting the mood – The current trend in interior design is for soft, relaxing neutrals that inspire comfort and coziness. These color palettes can work in any space where you want to unwind and feel at home – TV room, bedroom, or bathroom. But offices or dining rooms might want different color palettes. Bedrooms should avoid bright, stimulating tones like orange, where playrooms can be a rainbow-colored hive of energy. Think about how a color makes you feel before you stick it on a wall.

Colors of the Year 2019 focus on soothing and calm

Though paint brands may produce a wide range of different colors as Color of the Year, they draw their color palettes from the same well. Paint brands hire a fleet of color experts to determine and respond to the zeitgeist, and not just in the coatings world. The most popular paint colors take inspiration from consumer choices, cultural phenomena, architectural and design events, social trends and more.

We continue to seek out nature to revive and replenish. It is this urge that the 2019 color palettes are seeking to soothe, and many of the paint colors seem to have been drawn from the landscape. JOMO is also guiding color trends at the moment. JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out) is driving the need for coziness in our interiors, colors that inspire comfort and relaxation. Muted tones that inspire relaxation are popular interior wall paints, from gray hues to beiges, pale pinks to faded green tones, these colors promote rest. And of course if you want a space to clear and empty the mind, there are always all those whites.

The color trends predict a move away from the stress and focus of the modern world and towards creating the space to live your best, happiest, healthiest life. Color-wise this is represented by subtle, welcoming, casual colors, shades that make no demands an allow you to just ‘be’ in a space. PPG Paints chose ‘Night Watch’, a luscious black-infused teal which emulates the feeling of lush greenery. For Dulux it was ‘Spiced Honey’, a deliciously warm hue from their “Let the Light In” trend palettes. Sherwin-Williams put forward ‘Cavern Clay’  while Benjamin Moore chose the subtle and sophisticated gray of ‘Metropolitan’.

Some final tips for choosing interior wall paint color

You may think that white is white. Sorry to tell you, but you are dead wrong. And it isn’t just white! You may think green is safe, but then you find yourself sitting on a mound of paint swatches of very slightly different hues desperately trying to decide whether your living room is more ‘Sink Hole’ or ‘Toad’. The key is not choosing a colour that will fight your furnishings, fixtures, and flooring, and that won’t make you regret ever watching The Block when a trend fades. Some good tips to follow are:

A bright or dramatic color interior wall paint will pop when used as a feature wall

Experimenting with dark or deep colors will lead to a dramatic feel that is also soothing.

  • Think about the use of the room – The paint colour you choose will set the mood of the room. Dramatic, subtle, cosy, stylish – all of these can be set by the colour, and it is important to choose the mood based on how you use the room. A bedroom with a bright and insistent colour will not create the calming space you need to relax, but if you want a living room that pops, a bright white with feature of a bright colour like indigo will really bring out the space.
  • Always use the test pot – Colours do not look the same in the tin as they do on the wall. Always check that the light and the substrate colours do not alter the paint beyond recognition.
  • Do not make rash decisions – So you’ve painted the test patch and you like it, now what? Now you wait. Sleep on it. Do not just get stuck in and wake up with a paint hangover. Light changes in a space and you may wake up feeling differently.
  • Choose based on what you have, not want you wish you had – Though the internet is a wonderful tool it can also lead to mistakes. Seeing a colour work amazingly in one space does not mean it will work amazingly in all spaces. Light, ceiling height, furnishing and fixtures all play a role.