Colour eclipses neutral palette of old

We are open to colour in summer: holidays, longer days, outdoor living and catching up with family and friends flood our senses with new and retro colours. Interior design recreates these sensations, and paint is the perfect tool.
Shanghai night field

Each season brings new colours. For Dulux, the new colours redefine the old, says colour and communications consultant Bree Leech. “Every year we go overseas and research the global trends. When we come back we develop six new palettes.”

One new Dulux colour is Species, a crisp, bright yellow. The yellow is one of the 15 colours on the predominantly blue Empower palette. Traditionally, the blue/yellow combination triggers feelings of sun, sea and surf. Leech says the Empower blue/yellow palette represents a change in the way we perceive colour.

“The colours are a little bit more sophisticated, so the yellows are bordering on green, the blues are starting to move into green. We’re seeing layering of blues in interiors this year.”

Resene Paints spokeswoman Karen Warman says the company has noticed a more thoughtful approach to colour: “Colour trends are now evolving and growing more organically rather than the shorter, sharper bursts of trends from last decade.”

Leech is impressed by the innovation of Australia’s decorators. “Over the last five years we’ve seen Australians grow really confident in using colour. We started with very neutral spaces, and people still are a little conservative, but you can definitely see a change in bringing colour into their spaces.”

Leech is not just talking about the four walls. She nominates painting a timber dining setting as a great way to add colour. “Paint the chairs a really bright, bold colour – or maybe two or three of the chairs different colours.” Doors, too, can be highlighted in a shade “two or three shades darker than the walls”.

For a big impact, paint doors opening onto a long white hallway a bright colour so they appear “as pops of colour”. In a room with a monochromatic colour scheme, paint the darkest shade on the ceiling. Or, says Leech: “Striped ceilings look amazing: in a child’s room, mask out wide stripes, say yellow, with white for the remaining stripes and walls.”

Choice can be a decorator’s biggest problem. Interior designer Judy Duggan says paint companies have thousands of colours and can create anything with computer matching.

The trick to navigating this choice often lies in the personal. Duggan asks her clients three questions: “How do you want the room to feel? How do you want to feel when you’re in the room?” And – thinking about the furniture and keepsakes the client owns – she asks: “What pieces do you love?” The colours in those treasures will often be favourites, colours that create a stunning impression. And one of the key rules to remember, according to Duggan: ”There are no rules”.Going DIY


There are no short cuts – fill cracks, sand and clean surfaces.


The best paint you can afford, drop sheets, brushes, rollers and frames, extension pole, rags and masking tape.


Three coats. One undercoat/primer, tinted if necessary, two top coats.


Practise brushing, rolling and cutting in. Learn how to work in sections.


A gloss paint will probably look a shade or two lighter because it’s reflecting the light. A flat paint – matte – will absorb light and look a bit darker to the eye.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.


Comments are closed.