When Dulux concocts its latest paint colours, it doesn’t do it by halves — and no more so than when it picks its much-anticipated Colour of the Year, as revealed exclusively this week by Homes & Property. Denim Drift, the paint giant’s Colour of the Year 2017, is a smoky, calming grey-blue.
An accompanying palette of 10 complementary blues, from Indigo Shade, resembling dark denim, to palest shade Clock Face, invites you to combine them to create any effect you like — from crisp colour blocking to a looser, more painterly style.
Every year, Dulux’s Global Aesthetics Centre brings together a colour-forecasting team of design experts from all over the world.
“The process begins 18 months ahead of announcing the colour,” says Marianne Shillingford, Dulux’s creative director. “Paint colour trends go in three- to five-year cycles, so we have to choose one we think will be relevant for the next few years.”
Major social trends are factored in when the panel determines not only the colour but its precise tone. “At our meetings, faded denim blue kept cropping up.” The consensus among the team, says Shillingford, “was that this restful shade is relaxing in our increasingly hectic, technology-dominated lives where there is no dividing line between our work and personal life”.
The denim shade was also picked for its cross-generational, democratic appeal to young and old no matter what they earn or do. The word “drift” was used because the chosen shade “seems to drift from being definitely blue to blue-grey”.
As with all paint shades, it looks different depending on which colours it’s paired with, and on how light hits it. “Putting it next to wood in a warm chestnut brown brings out the grey in it, makes it cooler — but combine it with greys and blues and it looks richer,” says Shillingford. “The more natural light there is in a room, the richer this blue will look.
Yet in a north-facing room with weak, watery light, its smokier side is accentuated.” She adds: “Cooler colours, such as blues and greys, have become more popular over the past few years as modern, warm LED lighting makes them look much better, more alive than with traditional fluorescent lighting. The impression we once had of blue making an interior appear chilly is a thing of the past.”
Make the most of Denim Drift’s softness with “layered” lighting, especially in rooms mainly used at night. Floor and table lamps and concealed lighting in cabinets, along shelves and behind plants bring out its mellow quality.
Have fun with the palette. “Try broad, horizontal bands of different shades that loosely bleed into each other. Use a dry-brush technique — dip the brush in a small amount of paint and apply it vigorously in cross-hatched brushstrokes where the bands of colours meet.”
A room painted blue looks zingier with furniture and accessories in other blues.
Neptune’s Suffolk chair (£255, neptune.com) painted in midnight blue, and Barber & Osgerby’s Tobi-Ishi table in a glossy, worn-denim tone would look good against solid colours, while more painterly walls would be complemented by Designers Guild’s Padua throw in ice blue (£160, designersguild.com), its turquoise Turrill cushion, or Hem’s midcentury-style Hai Chair. Ceramics, such as Spode’s Blue Italian china (£16.50 for a dinner plate at spode.co.uk) or Mud Australia’s porcelain carafe in baby blue, will further enhance a blue scheme, as will Pooky’s Wisteria table lamp, with its aqua glass base and kingfisher blue shade (£210, pooky.com).