A Great Idea for Testing and Choosing Paint Colours

If you’re like me, you run to the DIY store, buy an armful of tester pots and then proceed to checkerboard your walls in a variety of 10cm x 10cm boxes, using a small dribble of the tester pot. Then you have to struggle to paint over the walls with all the different underlying colours!

A recommendation I received (from the lovely Sophie Robinson at one of her Masterclasses) was a revelation to me. How come I had never thought of it before?  You buy a roll of lining paper, rip off a large chunk of it and PAINT THE PAPER and not the wall!   Attach the paper to the wall with masking tape, so you can move it around without any paint on the wall.  And you can use a good load of paint without worry. Get a real feel for the paint in a big block.

I mean it’s so obvious when you say it out loud!

For my Living Room makeover I decided to take this approach. I’m toying with dark colours and so the first three colours I tried, all from from Farrow and Ball were Vardo, Stiffkey Blue and Drawing Room Blue.

As I mentioned in my other post we have a south facing room so the light changes drastically through the day – so the paint would also look different during the day. Being able to move the tester patches around was really important. And the pictures I have taken, at different times of day, in different weather conditions and with the lights on show how the colours can really change.

The pictures below show the transition of colour through different conditions and with one or two coats.  They are unfiltered because it’s important to view it as it is, not as the filter makes it appear to be.

This first image with one coat only – taken at night with the lights on the wall behind the TV. Here, Vardo is top left, Drawing Room top right and Stiffkey below:

This first picture was taken at 7pm, curtains closed and lamps on.  Here the Vardo appears dark green, and the Drawing Room Blue appears almost blue-black in appearance:


The next picture is with the colours in same position, at 7am on a sunny morning.  This wall is west facing, so no direct sun in the morning:


As you can see the colours appear lighter, of course, but in this light you can see the Stiffkey Blue being more a petrol blue colour vs the Drawing Room Blue has almost a purple feel to it.  The Drawing Room Blue appears to be much deeper and richer.

Next up, this was taken half an hour or so after the previous one, but with a second coat applied.  You can see the sheen of the fresh paint:


With the second coat the colours are brighter and more vibrant all round.

These next two pictures were taken around 10am with the sun coming in through the windows.  I’ve moved the swatches to the wall opposite the window, this is now fully south facing as you can see from the light:

What this shows is how incredibly different the colours appear to be.  The Vardo is brighter, perhaps more teal than green as we saw on the other wall.  The purple undertones of the Drawing Room Blue (top right) really shine through and the Stiffkey Blue (bottom right) looks like a much paler blue, almost powdery blue in appearance.

We are really torn between the Vardo and Stiffkey Blue at this stage!  Drawing Room Blue is ruled out for sure.

Here’s a couple of pictures on the day, a bit later on, about 3pm when it got a bit darker and cloudy and then again at night with the lamps on.

We’re going to keep these up for a week or so, get the feel for it and get the real sense of the colours we’re after.  We will also try another colour or two – so I’ll be popping off to the shops again for a couple more tester pots.

This paper technique is something I’ll definitely do from now on.  You could make the pieces of paper longer and have a much large colour swatch, the lining paper gives you that option.  Also the lining paper is nice and thick so the paint doesn’t seep through it.

Which colour do you prefer?

I’ll keep you posted on the progress of which one we’ve chosen!

5 thoughts on “A Great Idea for Testing and Choosing Paint Colours

  1. Fab idea will have to do this for the snug… I have my eye on some colours but need to test it out first, and we love Sophie!!! 🙂 I love Drawing Room and Stiffkey in your room… they look beautiful and it really brings out their tones! Look forward to seeing your choice!

  2. Great idea!

    We are very conservative (boring) with out colour choices – this is the perfect way to find a bolder shade.

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