Saturday 24 March 2018

Paint trends go autumnal

Take a leaf out of nature's book as this season's colour trends mirror outdoor hues

This Owen Ego bed frame from Lomi Design (€2,848 for a standard double) by Bonaldo of Italy is upholstered in a huge range of quilted fabrics, such as this mustard yellow
This Owen Ego bed frame from Lomi Design (€2,848 for a standard double) by Bonaldo of Italy is upholstered in a huge range of quilted fabrics, such as this mustard yellow
A colour scheme from Little Greene, available at MRCB Paints & Papers
Bodil chair in light moss, £499 (€600), online only from
The autumn/winter palette from Crown Paints features dark greys

Eleanor Flegg

So you take your car in to have the paint touched up on your driver's door. In the garage, everyone agrees that the new colour is a perfect match with the old. A few hours later, you're standing in your driveway looking at a door that appears to be a completely different shade to the rest of the car.

This happens because certain types of lighting can affect your perception of how colours match. This is called metamerism. Metameric failure occurs when two colours look the same under one type of light but completely different under another.

Metameric failure is one of the hazards of introducing a new colour scheme at home and it's one of the reasons that sample pots of paint are certainly not a waste of money.

So you think that your chosen paint colour matches the curtains? If you test the paint on the wall, you'll be able to see both colours in the same light. Neglect this bothersome step at your peril. Two coats of expensive eggshell later, you might realise that the colours don't match at all. In fact, they clash horribly.

Paint brochures are so beautiful that it's tempting to select your favourite colour scheme and work the rest of the room around it. According to Niamh Courtney, colour consultant with MRCB Paints & Papers, that's the wrong way round. "Paint is one of the cheapest aspects of decorating, so that comes last! If you're decorating from scratch, begin with the most expensive items in the room and work your way down to the paint. And, if you're updating a room, choose a paint colour that will work with the things that you want to keep."

Unless you plan to change your sofa and curtains, make sure that the new paint colour works with these fabrics.

Whether the colours clash or harmonise also depends on the mix of background colours within the paint, and these aren't always obvious to the untrained eye. Courtney suggests that you bring samples of the existing materials into the paint shop with you. "Colour is like music. You can have harmony and you can have discord. For me, it's become an instinct because I've been working with colour for years."

Rather than painting one brave feature wall in a bright colour and copping out in the rest of the room, Courtney suggests that you use strong colour in smaller areas.

"If you use a bright colour on a radiator cover, or on the back of a bookshelf, you might want to use that same colour somewhere else in the room," says Courtney. "It's more effective than using it on a whole wall. You're not coming into a room and thinking - look at the orange wall - you're getting an overall impression of the room."

Like music, it's not about the single notes; it's about the way that the ensemble plays together.

In Crown Paints' autumn/winter 2016 catalogue, the trend described as 'out of the dark' combines an intense orange called Dance Fever, Tibetan Gold (deep yellow), Millionaire (metallic gold) and Quick Kiss (red) with some of their deeper darker greys. The bright colours are used as accents against walls in a charcoal grey (Celestite) and almost-black (Rebel). Awesome as this looks in the photographs, I suggest that you take it handy at home. Dark walls take a long, long time to paint over. And too much black and orange could leave your room looking like a children's Halloween party.

Most of the paint companies have variations on this autumnal palette - earthy yellows, russets, gold, and bright deep orange. It's a look that reminds me of leaves in October. Because they're strong, bright colours, you'd think that they might clash, but colours that you see together in nature generally tend to combine just as well indoors.

That's so long as they don't fight with the colours that you already have. If you want to bring in a splash of orange, for example, and already have a beige rug with warm earthy tones, the combination will probably look as harmonious as maple leaves and tree-bark. But this doesn't mean that you're stuck with a brownish palette. Although some cool greys may fight with warm strong colours, deep greys can work very well with autumnal tones. Imagine a yellow leaf fallen on dark wet rock and you'll get the idea.

If you like strong autumnal colours, another option is to introduce them in the furniture itself. Buying cheap furniture in bright colours is almost certainly a bad idea, but it's possible to get good design on a medium budget.

The online-only company Made offers very good value by cutting out the middle-man.

The Scott two-seater sofa comes in rich orange velvet with dark hardwood feet and costs €1,075. The catch is that you can't go and bounce on it in a showroom. The company keeps the prices reasonable by skipping that step.

As Italian design goes, the Jesse range from Lomi Design in Dublin offers decent value and also comes in autumnal colours.

The mustard yellow Fedra armchair costs €1,766, it has removable covers, and you can check it out in the showroom. In the same range, the Open system of modular furniture comes in finishes that include a spectacular orange lacquer. You can order a whole sideboard in that finish (this option is not for the faint-hearted) or combine a walnut unit with an orange lacquered base. The orange lacquer is used in a subtle way, but you can highlight it with a single wall cube shelf unit in the same bright colour (prices for the range begin around €1,500).

Also from Lomi Design, the Owen Ego bed frame (€2,848 for a standard double) from Bonaldo of Italy is upholstered in a huge range of quilted fabrics. Adventurous people might go for mustard yellow. Others might be afraid that it would give them nightmares. The more cautious might opt for the plainer and cheaper Jesse Clay bed (from €1,878) and spend the savings on a rich orange rug.

"My first tip is to keep the ceiling bright white. It will make the room feel taller and give relief to the strong colours below," says Lorraine Egan of Lomi Design.

"My second tip is to use a rich matt finish on the walls and woodwork. It gives a much deeper visual presentation. Shine of any kind in the paintwork will only cheapen the final look. Keep the gloss and shimmer for the furniture and accessories, and you won't go wrong."

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