Colour blocking: the latest interiors trend

Take a picture of the latest catwalk fashion colours and have your interior paints mixed to match
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London Fashion Weekend opens to everybody on February 24, 2011 at Somerset House in the Strand (until February 27, 2011, book by visiting

And now, a new free iPhone App can turn your favourite fashion colours into paint. Simply take a picture on your phone of what you love - shoes, bag, scarf, jacket, whatever - and get an instant paint reference to take to the shops. You’ll also get three colours that can be used with it, all courtesy of Dulux, the pukka paint people. How clever is that?

"Colour blocking" is this season’s hottest trend - it means combining strong, bright colours in the same outfit - let’s say a turquoise skirt with a yellow top and purple bag. You need to avoid pattern to create the best graphic effect. Orange, yellow, lime, cobalt, turquoise, cerise and red - women are combining two, three or even four of these at a time. The rule is: it’s all right so long as it’s bright.

A juicy pink fan chair (£265.82) from Littlewoods (; 0844 822 8000)<br />
A juicy pink fan chair (£265.82) from Littlewoods (; 0844 822 8000)

And do try this one at home

It is no big deal if your floors are pale wood and your walls are cream, or in cool and natural neutrals. The fact is these will make the perfect backdrop for colour blocking. Simply add a splash of bright paint in an alcove, perhaps, or on a door, a chair or chest, or skirting board. A litre of Dulux Tailor Made Colour - and there are 1,200 of them - costs £13.29, with enough for two coats on a smallish wall.

Coloured cut-stem glass by Julien Macdonald from Debenhams (£9 each);
Coloured cut-stem glass by Julien Macdonald from Debenhams (£9 each);
And a new Dulux Colour Quest service lets you email colour questions directly to a Dulux consultant, who’ll give you one-to-one advice (but it takes from about three to five days to receive). Find out more about this (and the phone App) at Own-brand paints at the big superstores, in good strong colours, will cost you about £15 for 2.5 litres. "Choose bold colours with equal weight and tone for maximum effect," says Crown’s colour consultant, Judy Smith. Get A5 pre-painted colour samples through the post at

Emma Chin, visual editor of Future Laboratory’s online magazine, is a trends forecaster. She says sober colours last year told of the recesssion but this year’s big interiors trade fairs in London, Paris and Stockhom, exuded only optimism and vibrancy.

"It’s not about random colour collisions - colour blocking is a considered a move away from minimal interiors."

The big colour debate

Design pundits have been disagreeing over a single key décor colour for spring. Pantone, the American colour bible (used for design reference all over the world), saw in the new year with a vibrant pink coded "honeysuckle Pantone 18-2120". But Dulux has been going for Forest Falls, a peppermint green.

Spirograph orange pendant lamp (£190) from BHS
Spirograph orange pendant lamp (£190) from BHS
At the Design Centre showrooms in Chelsea Harbour, they’re all talking tangerine, while Farrow & Ball has Charlotte’s Lock, a hot new orange. Heal’s, the furnishing store on Tottenham Court Road, which celebrated its 200th birthday last year, gambles on cobalt blue. Colour blocking lets you use them all.

Union flag ironing board cover, £3; washing-up bowls (£3 each) and a 30-litre green bin (£32) from Matalan (
Union flag ironing board cover, £3; washing-up bowls (£3 each) and a 30-litre green bin (£32) from Matalan (
Julian Slim, head of home at Selfridges, says fashion trends take a little while to filter down into furnishing. "But with colour blocking you can get the look instantly." It’s not expensive and it just needs confidence - so, to start with, go for colour blocking by dressing a table with a bright cloth, contrast-colour napkins and coloured glasses.

Then, why not colour block a bathroom with a melange of towels? Mix up bedlinens with a pile of pillows. Add a throw and cushions to a sofa and change your lampshade. In the kitchen, go for saucy pans and storage jars, and have them on show along with the bright toaster and the bold waste bin.

Maybe steer clear of strong colours when making those major buys, such as sofas, carpets, rugs, lined curtains or the lime-green Smeg fridge on sale at M&S this year. Though you will spot sofas at Ligne Roset stores flaunting covers of scarlet and lime, from designers such as the Bouroullec Brothers and Philippe Nigro, the primary shades of red, yellow and blue seem to stand the time-test better than the pinks, turquoises and purples, which have a habit of dipping in and out of fashion.

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