Interiors: Copper orange, berry pinks and yellow on trend
'When I am an old woman I shall wear purple," wrote the poet Jenny Joseph. "With a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me." A defiant splash of colour-mismatch rebellion streaks through the opening line of her poem Warning - about growing old disgracefully (excellent plan) in the face of a culture that tries to dictate so much - even the way we use colour.
That would be the trend forecasters - the colour consultants, and creators of colour cards for paint companies. Don't get me wrong, colour advice can be useful and interesting. Just remember that paint companies exist to sell paint.
I love the way trend forecasters claim to predict the colour future - it's as much fun as astrology (and probably just as reliable). "Gold is on the rise," says Louise Todd, colour consultant to Dulux. "But copper will continue into next year. After that it might evolve into gold." It's quite safe, she reckons, to paint your room in warmer colours. "I think that we're going to be in this warmer phase for a while." It's a bit like hearing the weather. Apparently, last year's prevailing colour, teal, is in retrograde.
Dulux's Colour of the Year, copper orange, is dreamily described in the catalogue as reflecting "the natural palette of the earth, from clay tones to sunlit highlights of yellow; the skin tones that reflect human interaction and the sepia hues of the past".
I'm not entirely convinced about copper orange. It reminds me of terracotta (something that I overdid in the 90s). "Colour is like ear muffs and legwarmers," says Todd. "If you wore them the first time, then you shouldn't wear them again. Some people have only just got rid of the terracotta in their homes." I glance down at my grubby terracotta kitchen floor and say nothing.
Copper orange, Todd insists, is not the same as terracotta. It is made to a different recipe. "Any colour is only as new as the colours that you put in it," says Todd. "My advice is to keep crisp with blonde wood and lots of white. In a bedroom I'd use it with fresh white cotton and a splash of bright yellow."
Another advantage of the colour is that it goes well with the copper accessories that you'll find in all the major retailers this year. Helen James Considered range for Dunnes has a number of copper pieces ranging from a cookie cutter (€3) to a colander (€75).
My favourite of the Dulux palettes is called Friendly Barter - "berry tone pinks and reds add softness when used in conjunction with lime and orange, but can create an added richness to ochre, rich brown and warm grey". All very poetic, but combining colours is easier said than done. "The pitfalls are in that yellow-brown area," Todd warns. "They can be very scary." Once again, she suggests you use lots of white so they "become graphic and don't look like a dingy 1970s pub".
Purple, she says, seems to be almost non-existent at the moment. "It's much more about reds and oranges - these are very secure. Purple is one of those polarising colours that is either in or out. The pinks are on the yellow side of the spectrum and the plum colours have a lot of grey in them."
Like astrologers, each paint company has their own set of predictions for the year ahead and it's fun to look in more than one crystal ball.
As in fashion, there is a certain amount of overlap in the key colours, but interesting differences in the way they're put together.
Crown Paints have recently published their guide to spring and summer trends - plenty of chalky skin tones here too - and if you're strolling down Dublin's Henry Street you can see them in action.
A group of interior and furniture design students from DIT School of Creative Arts have created room sets in each of the windows, combining this year's colours and furniture from Arnotts.
"They've done a fantastic job," says Kerry Meakin, who lectures on the course. "We put the students in groups of three and gave each group a room and a colour palette from Crown Paints. It was great to get them away from the computer into a physical space, working with real paint and actual furniture."
The idea is that the windows will inspire the passers-by on how they might put colour and furniture together in their own homes. "Irish people can be very afraid of using colour," says Meakin. "But with our climate, a bit of colour is what we need."
Members of the public are invited to compete for a €100 Crown Decorating Centre gift card and a €100 Arnotts gift card by photographing and tweeting their favourite window (#DITCrownArnotts). The windows are on display until February 22 and the competition runs for the duration.
Prices for paint from Dulux and Crown are much of a muchness. Expect to pay around €54 for five litres of Dulux matt emulsion which will cover an estimated 65 square metres of wall (less if you're messy and remember that most paint jobs require two coats). Crown cost around €25 for a 2.5 litre can,