Decorative color tricks and finishes are becoming increasingly popular in interior design.
Color and hue, as Dulux creative director Marianne Shillingford reminds us, is about more than just the rainbow: “When we say colour, we mean non-saturated jelly bean tones – we mean color and hue in all its glory, made from organic Waste. Whites and subtle petal tones to the deepest midnight blues, greens, golds and reds.’ Marianne notes that decorating our homes with color has become much more creative during lockdown – and this trend continues to evolve. ‘
“Using ceiling color tricks, forgetting about room corners as transitions between colors and opting for wall splits, and painting kitchen units and furniture in shades that bring us joy—all of this has revolutionized how we look in and live in our homes ‘ she adds
Interior designer Kate Guinness agrees: “I think we’re going to see a continued enthusiasm for color and pattern this year. We continue to introduce color detail into our homes to incorporate additional points of interest.’
We’ve curated our favorite color ideas, color tricks, and how to introduce color into a variety of interior design environments to help you create a whole new scheme in your home.
Painting tricks – for every room and surface
We’ve teamed up with a host of color and design experts to bring you the most exciting color trends for the year ahead. These color tricks will give your home a whole new look. brush ready…
1. Doubling to make a room appear larger
If you want to experiment with bedroom color, the choice of color is just as important as the finished effect. Under Irene Gunters (opens in new tab) Current favorites are blush shades to create an incredibly calming vibe. Irene runs her own design practice and recommends those warm, cozy colors for bedrooms that don’t distract or stimulate the mind.
“In the master bedroom of this Notting Hill home, we used Paint & Paper Library’s Rouge II for the lower part of the wall and mixed the same color with 50 percent white to create a lighter shade for the upper part. Not only does this painting technique add interest, but it also blurs the edges of the room, making the ceiling appear higher and the space appear larger.”
2. Turn your headboard into a work of art
Ingenuity, a bit of imagination and a limited budget guided the interior designer and Sascal Studio (opens in new tab) Founder Sarah Stemp to create this unique and distinctive headboard.
“We saved a lot of money by making the headboard fabric ourselves,” she explains. “We sourced canvas fabrics from eBay and then used sample pots of green paint to create the pattern. We started with Farrow & Ball’s Vert De Terre as a base color and built on that with lighter and darker Farrow & Ball greens.”
The overall result is very textured – the brushstrokes convey a sense of movement that adds depth and makes this headboard idea look more like a work of art. A piece of vintage linen behind adds softness to the metal frame.
3. Give a fireplace a faux marble finish
The living room is the perfect place to experiment with painting tricks and techniques, as suggested by these living room paint ideas. Working with a paint expert can be a smart move. Interior designer Brandon Schubert (opens in new tab) invited Lara Fiorentino from The Paint Effect to give a fireplace a marble effect finish.
“Lara did a brilliant job making the fireplace look like it was made out of red marble,” he says. Just take the time it takes to get a really nice smooth finish.’
4. Add a tactile touch to your walls
Subtly textured walls are a smart choice when deciding on the best hallway color ideas. Color pigments can be combined with different materials to create washes that are applied with brushes or sponges using different techniques. The project shown here comes from the designers Chan & Eayrs (opens in new tab).
There are so many ways to use color creatively. If you want to go even further, explore special color effects to add depth to your wall beyond what ordinary paint can achieve.
5. Use color to create zones within a room
In addition to color, contrasting color finishes can be used for a painted kitchen to zone a space,” says Andy Greenall, design manager at Paint & Paper Library (opens in new tab). For this backsplash area, the architect at Paint & Paper Library’s Satinwood creates a striking contrast with a matte finish in the same shade. Two tone walls can transform a room and add depth to a wall. It’s also easy to perform and an inexpensive way to add character to an otherwise simple scheme.
6. Trick the eye with painted borders
Designer Louise Roe proves that detailed design doesn’t have to be so expensive: “I wanted to be a little more daring with my bedroom color ideas. I found a rich, warm maroon shade, Earthborn’s Lady Bug, for the doors, and Amy Balfour painted one of her beautiful borders onto the panels, which look like expensive bone inlays.
7. Use color to create a 3D effect
“When thinking about color tricks, the ‘fifth wall’ is a great way to add layering and a three-dimensional aspect to a room’s design,” says Elnaz Namaki, Creative Director, Elnaz Namaki Studio (opens in new tab).
For this small space, interior designer Elnaz Namaki chose a fully bespoke plaster paint color solution and worked with a plaster finish craftsman. This has been overlaid in the corners with bespoke paisley stencils around the headlights.
8. Use paint to visually expand the walls
“Clever ceiling ideas are a great way to add another layer of interest and make a room feel cozier. All too often they’re an afterthought, but we’re careful to consider their potential,” confides interior designer Nicola Harding. “The use of eye-catching color tricks and ceiling ideas helped expand the walls in this dining room.”
Nicola starts by thinking about how she wants the space to feel in the end, and she also considers the amount of natural light – coming through the floor-to-ceiling glass doors here. With that in mind, she chose a simple emulsion – Stone Blue by Farrow & Ball – to visually expand this small dining room.
9. Use color to hide flaws
The beauty of smart painting tricks is that when done well, they can hide a multitude of sins.
In old homes, it can be worth examining the original “bones” of the home, although it’s important to consider the condition of the ceilings when uncovering them. Using white color helps to hide imperfections and create a softer effect that blends into the space below.
“Decorative finishes are becoming increasingly popular,” says interior designer Kate Guinness. “For example, we continue to introduce color details in place of solid moldings, or incorporate additional points of interest and conceal architectural flaws.”
10. Trick the eye
Introducing lighter finishes at eye level is a well-known trick to improve spaciousness and prevent overhead cabinets from becoming overpowering, especially over high-traffic areas like the cooktop or sink.
“We would generally recommend going for darker tones on the bottom and lighter tones on top, especially when natural light isn’t good or ceilings are low,” says Sarah Ellison, founder and creative director at Frank & Faber (opens in new tab). “In a very dark kitchen, we often do without wall units altogether if storage space allows, or paint them the same light shade as the walls so that they practically disappear.”
Are painting tricks and techniques outdated?
If you think of the wall stencils and textured ceilings of the seventies, then yes. But today’s painting tricks are much more sophisticated and contemporary.
There are so many ways to apply painting tricks beautifully, says interior designer Brandon Schubert. “You can choose an unusual finish like gloss paint for walls. This can work really well with dark colors if you want the light to reflect around the room, but it works with pale colors too. Just take the time it takes to get a really nice smooth finish.’
“If you want to go further, explore special color effects to add depth to your wall beyond what ordinary paint can achieve. I think this is best done by a professional decorator, but if you’re feeling adventurous, try it yourself.’
Color tricks for modernity is all about bringing interiors to life in a bespoke way. “We embrace a new freedom of expression that has a beating heart of color,” says Marianne Shillingford, Dulux Creative Director.
How do you paint special effects on a wall?
Kit Kemp is highly respected for her use of color which shines through in the various Firmdale hotels she designs. If you’re not sure where to start with paint in the house, Kit has plenty of ideas and recommends a door frame as one of the easiest places to start.
“It’s the perfect canvas for adding a fun pop of color or even just a soft, complementary hue to the rest of the room,” she explains. “Door frames are the boundaries between one room and the next, from a cozy drawing room to a bright kitchen. So why not have something that frames the space behind it and is a fun and colorful addition in its own right?”