Here’s How You Can Pick Paint Shades and Finishes Like a Pro


Painting expert Gladys Goh (Senior Vice-President of Strategic Innovation & Marketing of NIPSEA Group) shares ideas and tips for picking and applying paint, no matter which part of your home.

Do you have any recommended colours for homeowners looking to makeover their spaces?

squarerooms nippon paint blue turquoise wall colour chair seating area boho cosy beach design

Gladys: Start with the colours you love. You can also get creative with neutral and soft pastel shades. For interiors, in particular, don’t overwhelm yourself and your space with overly bright or bold coloured walls. White and pastel shades can equally create colourful effects. You can also include colours as part of the composition through furniture, pillows or a carpet. If you are feeling a little bit more daring, then you may use accent colours to create a signature wall or corner.

For exteriors, choose UV-safe colours to ensure longer-lasting results. If possible, select outdoor colours during the day when there’s natural sunlight—I highly recommend before noon—to see the actual colour appearance which may look different with artificial lighting.

What are your go-to shades and how do you use them?

I love exploring all shades and working in the paint industry has its perks! I am well-tuned to design trends and am the type who uses colours that are in season. I like experimenting as colours can also create different moods for different settings.

While warm colours like red, yellow and orange create energetic vibes in a space, cool colours like green, blue and purple have a calming effect. Bold shades may be overwhelming, especially when used in large portions of a space, so what I like to do is opt for neutral or soft colours and reserve the bold colour for a signature wall, thus creating a whole new vibe.

Repainting spaces is a regular exercise for me. I find painting an effective way to change the outlook of a space in a cost-effective manner. Pairing a new wall colour with small decor items can create a huge difference with minimal effort.

What are some challenges customers face when choosing the right colours for their home?

squarerooms nippon paint living room work area home office wall colour colourful pink red green contemporary design look

With the present technology we have and the convenience that the Internet and e-commerce platforms bring, everything can be searched and seen through screens. Although there are benefits, choosing colours becomes tricky as viewing them on digital devices is different from seeing actual physical colour catalogues.

Viewing actual samples or paint catalogues with painted colour chips will definitely be a more accurate way to choose paint colours. Alternatively, you can purchase a small can to try out the colour on the wall before painting the entire space.

Another important factor to consider when choosing colours is the amount and type of lighting you have in the space. Colours look different under different types of light—natural, incandescent and fluorescent. You need to be sure that the colours you pick work best with the type of lighting in the room you intend to paint. This factor is especially critical if you opt for dark, accent colours.

It’s good to take note that light colours can create the illusion that the space is bigger and dark colours can make your space look smaller and, if not properly lit, colours will appear darker.

Beyond colour, what are some things to consider when choosing paint?

The Internet offers great tips and advice for those who are looking at paint choices. But I do have a couple of tips that I would always share with my friends:

  • Pick the right paint finish for your surface. If your wall surface is uneven, opt for eggshell or matt finishes. High-sheen finishes will bring out more of the unevenness.
  • Choose the right primer/sealer for the surface. If there are defects like peeling, chalkiness or blistering, it is very important to attend to them first as underlying problems may resurface and require repainting too soon.

Have you noticed a shift in homeowners’ paint-buying trends?

squarerooms grey wall colour nippon paint wood floors chair seating area

With more people staying home, we noticed consumers becoming more reliant on e-commerce platforms. Today, more than ever, it is important to be online—to be virtually available to assist consumers with enquiries about products and colour selection, as well as let customers purchase paints directly from websites and have them delivered to their doorsteps.

Another trend we noticed is a direct outcome of the home-based working setup. Since people are spending more time at home, they have started noticing that parts of their house need fixing, or they have started planning for a quick space makeover. Most of these renovations are done to repurpose study and work areas. The good thing is a fresh coat of paint can do that! Weekends are now filled with paint makeover activities with family members or housemates!

Do you have advice for those looking to paint by themselves?

It’s always a good start to assess the environment around the area you wish to paint. Make sure the surface is in good condition. If not, you must find out what’s required to get the foundation right to ensure a good outcome. More often than not, people opt for shortcuts and make attempts to cover them up, but this is not a long-term solution and will result in wasted efforts and resources.

In addition, there are a lot of eco-friendly paint options available. Those are good choices as well. Premium-quality water-based paints generally offer an almost odour-free experience during and after painting. If you are game for more dramatic effects on your wall, you can check out Nippon Paint’s Momento special effects range. You can definitely experiment with these and there’s no shortage of videos online with steps on how to DIY these beautiful effects on your own.

Exterior environments are slightly more technical as the paint has to withstand rain and shine. It is of utmost importance to select the right and good painting tools to achieve the best result.

This post was adapted from an article originally published in the January 2022 issue of SquareRooms.