Subtle shades of colour can sell a home. Two identical rooms, one painted in this year's colours and the other from 10 or 20 years ago, will give a very different impression to buyers.

That's not to say you have to paint your home in Resene's Tapa, Duck Egg Blue or Fuchsia Grey, or similar trendy shades from Dulux and others.

There is no right colour. Some people gravitate towards earthy tones and others soft pastels, says Carolyn Atkinson, Resene colour consultant. So it's okay to choose a palette that fits your colour psyche.

You may be a spring person, a summer, an autumn or winter. It's about the colours you prefer. The spring palate, for example, is dominated by yellows and the colours are fresh, bright, clean and warm. The autumn person goes for a mix of spicy vibrant colours and rich mellow hues.

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The exact hues, however, should be up-to-date if you want the best possible chance of selling your home.

Colours follow trends and the reasons behind the shifts are far deeper than many people realise. "When the world is settled and peaceful, when prosperity and happier times are everywhere we live outside of ourselves and don't feel the need for our home to be a sanctuary.

"The colours we use then are frivolous, fancy free and lighter and brighter."

There is more to choosing paint than simply the main colour for the home. You will need to know what shades work together in order to avoid clashing colours.

For example, Resene's Spanish White works well with warm beiges such as Drought or Akaroa, says Atkinson. Where you need a contrasting colour to Spanish White you may choose Triple Concrete, Double Stack, Safehaven or Cod Grey, says Atkinson.

"It is also very important that there be enough contrast between the colours so they appear very balanced and harmonious. This is called a tonal gradation."

Tonal graduation takes the space, light and function into account and uses related colours in different rooms. For example you might choose a light version of a colour for smaller darker rooms and a deeper variation in a very large bright room.

"It is a personalised approach to each room instead of using exactly the same colour in each room whether it suits the space or not," she says. All this helps to make the room feel like all the colours and finishes belong together

Atkinson says introducing a few elements of your colour personality can make a room feel instantly welcoming.

It's easy to get overwhelmed when choosing colours, which is a good reason to ask for advice at a paint shop, or pay for a one-off consultation from a colour expert.

"Their professional advice really can make the home more appealing when it comes to selling. A memorable house may sell quicker than one that people can't remember once they have left the property," she says.

Even if you want to paint your home a mid-grey, there will be many options, dark and light and with different undertones. Popular greys are anything from light greys such as Resene Silver Chalice, mid grey such as Stack through to the deep grey of Foundry.

Typically we tend to be more comfortable with the cooler bluer and greener greys, rather than the redder greys.

Somewhere in your home there needs to be a bold or bright colour to excite the senses, says Atkinson. If all the colours in a home are muted or very plain the home won't stand out.

The bold colours could simply be the door, garden furniture or a room or wall that looks exciting. Even wallpaper can do the trick, says Atkinson. A clear red or yellow adds warmth and visual attraction to a grey/white/charcoal colour scheme.

"Deep blues, bright teals and fresh watery greens may calm the senses and provide a restful ambience in hot, hectic or small spaces," she says. "Soft peachy pinks will stop a dim, cool or unhappy looking space feeling like Cinderella before she was invited to the Ball."