Bye magnolia, hello bold colours

Fleetwood's Personal Imprint collection of complementary shades include this intimate graphite grey in matt, softsheen, satin or gloss for 2013.

Kya deLongchamps recommends bursting into spring with an antidote to winter’s greyness

THIS year, colour is back in a strong show of unabashed, pigment-heavy choice of paint for every surface in the house. Mired in magnolia — do you dare?

Here are a few ideas from the cat-walk of the colour charts to stir your imagination.


Teal and a deep forest green are everywhere this year, and both strongly reference the bold tones so popular up through the 1960s and ’70s before we all drowned in indifferent neutrals.

Greens such as Crown ‘Willpower’, are no sappy spring newcomers and will dominate a space if not cooled down with some whites and lighter shades. Sea Urchin 2 and Inky Pool from Dulux are sumptuous teals, uncompromising colours, certainly, but taken over a plain breeze block, brick or plaster can play happily with a variety of other more soft juicy greens and petrol blues. Little Greene is the investment buy in Canton, bannered in their new colour cards for the season.

Apply it:If such determined colour frightens you for acres of wall, consider using a water-based oil paint to up-cycle a chair with a woven or drop in seat. A rich green or teal frame set against a fresh white linen seat — fresh, classic, fabulous. A pop of colour on the back of a cabinet or shelving unit will add a contemporary flash to a dull white room. Experiment with box shelving if you don’t want to daub the floor or furnishings.


Relaxed? Calming? The new blues for 2013 surface from deeper more exotic fathoms of the ocean. Burlington Gardens is typical of the punchy newcomers — a rich lapis it’s a clay-based lovely by Earthborn natural paints. With its sister shades, it’s VOC-free and perfect for children’s rooms and play areas, and with a flat, light diffusing surface it offers a unique pigment dense character to any wall. Supplied by the Stonewares Studios, Youghal.

Dulux Indigo Night leans more towards a purple blue and bounced off their Cherry Chocolate on an adjoining wall will make a room with plenty of light, refreshing and authentic. Farrow & Ball have championed a new sapphire jewel in Black Blue for walls and floors.

Apply it: Character blues with an all white woodwork even taken over a plank floor — it can look as cool and clean as a Silvermint. The colour also dances with softer blue greys if you want a quieter life.


Grey superseded beige as the neutral of choice in the past five years, leading to the term ‘griege’ to cover that relaxed putty grey that seemed to go just about anywhere. Neutrals are being flipped back to floors, allowing colour full play over walls and surfaces. If you want relief from the more strident colours trumpeting on the colour card, the new greys for this year set against the pinks overlain on a candied almond are amongst a number of very grown up but comforting schemes on offer. Johnstone’s Steel Smoke and Farrow & Ball’s French Grey trip just a shade further into character colour without being gloomy. Set with creamy pinks, they are feminine without the flounce. If you want to buy Irish, Fleetwood’s Personal Imprint is an intimate graphite grey for 2013.

Apply it: If you’re upcycling cabinets, grey has a strong showing in kitchen colour this year, not least because the colourful appliances we all love leap off the counters with this laid back grey staging. In small rooms, trial a deeper colour before running to pales.


Taking a chance with paint is a reasonably inexpensive commitment and if you feel like some fashionable change, the striped wall opens up a world of possibilities using masking tape, a spirit level and plenty of preparation. Zigzag stripes are strictly for the brave. Painted plank floors beyond a one colour treatment take courage too. Create runners, rugs and definition in one area against another with two coats of dedicated water based paint with good scuff resistance. This year, every one of the Farrow & Ball 132 colours can come off the wall and onto the floor with new floor paints.

Apply it: Push a low ceiling back using wide vertical stripes. A well lit room can take all the contrast you dare, but in a dimmer space, use shades of a paler colour, a click or two across the card from each other. Contain a small room with a higher ceiling in horizontal stripes to draw its lofty proportions back to earth and lengthen the walls. Play with the thickness of stacked stripes stuttering up the wall. If your floor slopes, keep horizontal stripes away from the floor altogether.


Having had to change a pink that pulsated off the wall like a sugar-coated, growling beast, I was reminded of the importance of testing every shade before use.

Get tester pots or ask for a sample. The paint colour on a card or on a PC screen does not represent the colour as it will appear in a large swatch. Buying paint online means the suppliers will never guarantee colour without a material test.

- Use all of the tester pot over a piece of wallpaper lining paper at least 500mm square. If you have enough, make up two test swatches.

- Allow to dry before placing in position at eye level on the wall using a little low tack tape.

- Study the colour, noting the time of day and its appearance, texture and any sheen in full and partial sun.

- Leave in place and take another look as the light falls. If you have a key piece of furniture in a fabric colour or a carpet shade that’s staying, introduce them.

- Turn on the lights and see how the colour responds to artificial illumination.

- If you’re considering two or even three colours repeat the process using new swatches and set them close to see how they relate to each other in relative quantities to what you’ll use.

- Tip: Don’t dismiss the manufacturer’s recommended colour combinations. There’s a team of interior specialists behind them.


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