More Londoners stayed at home to paint a room over Easter than ever before, according to the big DIY chains and paint brands. And there are more bank holidays on the way.
A can of paint is an instant home fashion fix. Neutrals, teal and grey lead the field, with pastels coming on strong. A long weekend gives extra time to choose and test colours, prepare surfaces and then push on with the painting.
Softer neutrals have pushed aside those harsh whites we chose by default just a few years ago. Try neutrals or pastels for the big stuff such as walls, with a deep contrast for, say, furniture, a door, a corner or an alcove. Don’t rush your choice and be sure to use tester pots.
“Neutrals now have a happy hint of warmth,” says Rebecca Hoyes, head of colour for Habitat. “My favourites are Buttermilk, Sand and Almond — all new — with added drama queens such as Kingfisher and Mustard.”
Trends pundit Joanna Bolt at Homebase, agrees. “Yes, neutrals are super versatile — a blank canvas — but throw in stronger colour accents.” Homebase has lots of new warm neutrals plus a clutch of fresh pastels, in its own-brand House of Colour range.
Meanwhile Teal is trending at Dulux — “it’s so much richer than turquoise,” says Rebecca Thompson, design manager. Dulux is also pushing pastels — powder pink, baby blue, misty grey and lilac. “Then max out on romance with delicate voile, lace, metallics and frosted glass,” says Thompson.
Sanderson is crazy for pastels this spring — “it’s all about fashion” says design pundit Rebecca Craig — “think ice creams, macaroons, sugared almonds and summer skies — but add deeper hues for a modern touch.”
Paint brands have mushroomed, and the choice is daunting. The big DIY chains all have their own colours, while posher brands can cost twice as much, with 2.5 litres at close-on £40 — for not necessarily a superior product, according to Which? magazine.
For a quick overview, browse paint chain Brewers’ www.designerpaint.com, with about 30 top brands/collections. You can “click and collect” your order (as little as a tester pot) from numerous branches the next day, including at Victoria, Islington, Bow, Hammersmith and Edgware Road.
A new boutique for Little Greene (heritage shades, chalky finish) has just opened at 3 New Cavendish Street, W1 (020 7935 8844). Here, showroom boss Robert Paul is punting a new all-grey collection. Go for lighter, gentler shades to “expand” hallways, he says, “and put deeper, more moody tones in the bedroom”.
Farrow & Ball (making paint “one batch at a time” since 1946) have nine London showrooms including Chelsea (0207 351 0273), the flagship shop, where you can browse 132 colours, including many that match the firm’s wallpapers. Book a session with a trained consultant at any branch (farrow-ball.com; 01202 876141). Here, Mole’s Breath — more grey — is topping the paint charts along with Purbeck Stone and Cooking Apple Green.
Fired Earth’s new “nostalgic” Country House edit has more greys, soft greens, blues and a dusky pink and mellow yellow. There are 12 Fired Earth showrooms in London — the latest opened last year in Richmond and Battersea (0845 366 0400; www.firedearth.com)
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Paint names are increasingly fanciful — Homebase says they dramatically influence sales. “A name must evoke a clear image,” explains paint buyer Caroline Bacon. A colour called Flax (“a little obscure”) was languishing until renamed Parchment, when sales rocketed by 45 per cent in a week.
However, a just-launched Conran range (www.paintbyconran.com) has whimsical tags such as Yarrow Top and Elder’s Ear. But its colours are ravishing, and are arranged in five colour groups themed evocatively around British landscape and gardens. Colours in each group work well together.
My favourite is Cottage Garden, with six radiant shades of blue (including Cornflower, as per Sir T’s famous shirts), plus a vibrant poppy red and a dandelion yellow.
“I’m passionate about paint; colour adds flavour to life,” says Sir Terence, immersed in the ways of paint since childhood because his father was a paint-maker.
Technology and social media make choosing paint a lot more fun — simply click or touch a screen to get colour ideas and paint details. Big paint brands and DIY chains have lively Facebook pages and Twitter feeds — good for promos, events, competitions and tips.
Websites have how-to videos, plus interactive colour scheming and “live chat” for personal help. Upload a photo of your room at Homebase (www.homebase.co.uk), and then play around with wall and floor colours. Or go and see a real person — bookable Dulux colour consultants are now at Homebase, SW11 (0845 640 7667), and in South Ruislip (08456 407093) with free advice.
The Dulux app is still hard to beat. Take a picture of anything — even a pair of shoes or a flower — and the app will match it to a paint shade, and suggest colour schemes and a nearby stockist. Online is a digital interactive magazine with more advice and tips (www.dulux.co.uk).
Crown, too, has a new app — touch colours in and out on an uploaded photo of your room (www.crownpaint.co.uk).