NEW NEUTRAL S These colours are the biggest trend in interiors
Magnolia had its day a long time ago as a default colour choice for walls, but white was always right. No more! Michelle Ogundehin tells us why tea rose, lavender, mint and peach are the order of the day
Neutrals are an essential part of any
decorative arsenal, we need them as the soothing salve to the colour of our lives and ourselves. Nevertheless, it is a colour family that’s been somewhat tainted by the hangover of if- in- doubt- paint- it- beige and those abominable white-with-a-hint-of-hues. But those days are over. Now it’s time for pale yet interesting colours to reign as, I believe, you’ll increasingly be seeing tea rose, lavender, mint, lilac and palest peach emerging as the nouveau neutrals du jour.
Admittedly, these colours bring to mind a retro flavour, yet I’d suggest that this is no step backwards as far as our homes are concerned. Rather, it’s a decisive move towards a more mainstream embracing of colour that reflects not only a burgeoning self-confidence in the way we decorate, but also an increasing desire to unlock the restorative potential of our homes.
It’s also the first hint of the inevitable action-reaction pivot from the rich jewel tones and opulence of The New Modern, the big trend we discussed a year ago — all metallics used with carefree abandon alongside lustrous stones, clashing patterns and luxe leather. But, because the interiors trends pendulum rarely swings from one extreme to another, we won’t go from something so deep, dark and lush straight to tasteful taupes and beiges. We stay, instead with The New Modern look’s emphasis on using texture and colour, but tone it down a few notches. Note: the ever-increasing popularity of velvet upholstery is a direct link between these two interiors moods.
Crucially, these gently colourful neutral shades are much simpler to work with than perhaps the striking sapphires and jades, exotic lacquers and marbles of last year’s big trend. This is more about the use of ➤
paint, wallpaper and fabric, alongside accessories, such as rugs, cushions and glassware that can be layered with existing pieces, so it’s much more achievable. And that really is the main point. This is a trend for us all to embrace, not merely one to observe politely from the sidelines while marvelling at other people’s avant-garde homes in the pages of magazines such as this one. It’s all about easy ways to add warmth and delicacy to any home in order to create the comforting havens that we’re all craving these days.
Indeed, comforting was a word used a lot by the trend forecasters and industry insiders, invited by Dulux to join its team to determine the brand’s 2018 Colour of the Year at its Global Aesthetic Centre in Amsterdam. In divining this hue, ‘Heart Wood’, a shade described as ‘a warm, smoky neutral with a hint of heather’, they agreed first the mood of the moment before attempting to engender a response in colour. Their conclusion? ‘ We live in a world where we don’t know what the news will bring every day. Our usual sources of reassurance can’t be relied upon. We are living in a time of unpredictability.’ Thus, as Marianne Shillingford, Dulux’s creative director, puts it, ‘what we want is a return to the familiar, to create a sense of home as somewhere safe and nurturing.’ As such, it makes sense that we’re instinctively pulled towards warm tones, blush pinks and mildly old-fashioned colours, as these are intuitively reassuring, calming the mind and soothing the senses. And it’s also why this trend has fast-forwarded straight to the high street, with new products in precisely these ‘new neutrals’ being seen in many of the big retailers spring/summer 18 previews.
If you still have some concerns that these colours may look, dare I say, a touch fusty in your home, then rest assured, the current colour iterations have been brought bang up to date with a big dollop of grey in them. In other words, think muted grown-up pastels, or more sophisticated versions of whatever came to mind when you first pictured those retro names. Imagine shades redolent of milky ice-cream colours and the seafront motels of 1950s Miami rather than Granny’s nylon nighties or the dreaded toilet roll colours. And the clever way to use them? Mix and match. Think a tea rose velvet-upholstered sofa strewn with pastel peach and minty green cushions set against a pale lavender-painted wall. Yes, really. It’s the future.
IMAGINE SHADES THAT ARE REDOLENT OF MILKY ICE-CREAM COLOURS AND THE SEAFRONT MOTELS OF 1950S MIAMI