Wokingham Decorating Services - Reliable, Experienced Decorator based in Wokingham

Blog posts June 2020

Manufacturers' Colour Thoughts

Oh wow - has it really been that long since I posted anything in my blog?! Well, I did always say it was "an occasional blog", but I did mean to write more than once a year!

So what has been going on in the wonderful world of colour recently? Actually, quite a lot...

Johnstone's brought out a new colour guide. To be frank, it is a vast improvement on the old one, and well overdue. The old one felt like "We know how to make paint, and here's a random collection of colours you can have, in the unlikely event that you like any of them". The new one feels more like "We love colour - why don't you try out some of these amazing shades using our great paint products". Which is probably what a colour guide should feel like, if you ask me. There are lots of stylish photos of rooms with explanations of what colours have been used and why they work well together, and the colour "swatches" have been neatly arranged with loads of new neutral shades and some impactful brighter colours as well, including their 2019 Colour of the Year, "Night Watch (PPG1145-7)", which is a really deep, luxurious green, and is both intensely impactful and yet at the same time could almost become a neutral in a large room. There is a bit of a trend for darker, natural colours that seems to have emerged from historical TV dramas recently (from Downton Abbey to Peaky Blinders) - those period properties with the dark green or blue walls seem to be enjoying a little bit of a revival with some people, and I have to say, "Night Watch" in the right setting could be both impactful and calming. So this one gets a thumbs up from me (in the right setting), but the whole Johnstone's colour guide deserves a round of applause for moving their marketing forward in a big way. Usually I would add in a little colour swatch here to show you what it looks like, but I don't seem to be able to do it on this occasion, so with apologies to Johnstone's/PPG for any breach of copyright, here's a photo of "Night Watch" that I've "borrowed" from their web site:

So if that was their colour of 2019, where does 2020 take us (and if I don't hurry up and learn to write more frequently, I'll have to include 2021 in here as well!)? In a way they're on the same slightly retro path, but this year's colour is brighter and in a way even more impactful. It's a rich blue shade called "Chinese Porcelain", which does indeed bring to mind vintage Chinese porcelain... The thing is though, that lovely porcelain-ware was always white with delicate blue patterns or illustrations. It was blue AND white, not just blue, and when you go from the real porcelain-ware with its delicate patterns to a whole wall or whole room painted in the blue colour, it changes from being something delicate to something very impactful indeed. Nothing wrong with it, I quite like it, but it shows how when you take a colour from one setting and use it somewhere else in a completely different way it can change completely.

Enough about Johnstone's, what have Dulux been up to? Well, they too have recognised the whole Downton Abbey/Peaky Blinders retro thing, and have a separate "Heritage" colour chart in addition to their regular one. In some ways that's a good thing, as it means that if you're trying to achieve that specific look, then you know where to go to find those colours. But at the same time, part of me disagrees with the idea of "pigeon-holing" colours as "purely vintage"; yes, there are some great "Downton Abbey" colours in there, like "Midnight Teal" and "Mallard Green", but many of the neutrals such as "Chiltern White", "Quartz Grey" or "Raw Cashmere" would look great in many modern houses, and might even be the next "Polished Pebble" or whatever if Dulux would give them a chance. OK, I'm overthinking it, but there are some lovely colours in here that most people would never see unless they owned a period property.

Dulux's 2020 Colour of the Year is called "Tranquil Dawn", and they really got behind it and gave it a big push. They reprinted all their retail colour guides with "Tranquil Dawn" on the front cover, and it appeared inside too in a number of the "room makeovers"...but strangely NOT in the main pull-out colour guide where all the different colour swatches are. A bit of an oversight, maybe?! Anyway... "Tranquil Dawn" is a pale sage green - Dulux say it sits between green, grey and blue - which definitely has a calm, cool feel to it. It's already proving popular from what I've heard, although it is very similar to their "Willow Tree", which has always been one of their most popular colours. Again, I'm struggling to find or create a little colour swatch, so with apologies to Dulux for any copyright infringement, here's one of their pictures of Tranquil Dawn:

And that brings us to Crown, who have not one, not two, but three new colour guides! A retail one that you can pick up in B&Q or wherever, a trade one (which contains more technical information on their range of trade paints), and a trade "Historic & Classic Colours" guide. Confusingly, the retail colour guide includes a page on what they call their "Period Colours", but these don't seem to be the same colours as in the "Historic & Classic Colours" guide. The latter actually breaks the colours down by time period, so there is a Victorian page, and Edwardian page, an Art Deco page, and so on, which sounds like a really helpful idea initially, but when you realise that each time period only has 15 colours, it does limit your choices quite a bit if you want to be obsessive about only using the Edwardian colours (for example) in your Edwardian house. But, that said, when you look across their three colour guides, there is plenty of colour choice, and some really nice shades to choose from.

And not so long ago, that would have been that. But there are so many more paint brands available on the market these days. Farrow & Ball, of course, who also published a new colour guide - well, an additional guide as a supplement with some new colours in - last year, and Little Greene, who have been growing in recent years. But there are lots of less familiar brands on the market too, some of whom have some excellent products. I may well write a separate blog about some of them in the future (don't hold your breath though!), as many of them deserve more public recognition/awareness. One of which is Nordic paint manufacturer Tikkurila. I think they're Finnish, but I could be wrong, so don't quote me on that. Part of the struggle for me as a decorator is that they have an enormous range of products, all of which have names which mean nothing to me. It's a bit like shopping in Ikea, except that in Ikea you can see what you're buying, whereas with paint it just looks like a tin of paint! I'm used to products called "Water-based wood primer" or "Hard-wearing matt emulsion", and now I'm having to learn a whole new language and familiarise myself with products such as "Otex Akva" adn "Optiva 5". But so far it's been worth the effort to educate myself, and the people involved in selling Tikkurila - both my local stockist and the Tikkurila UK office team - have been really helpful. They have a really extensive range of colours available, and I'm trying to get my hands on some colour guides at the moment to share with interested customers. Their Colour of the Year 2020 is called "H300 Lemonade" which, unsurprisingly, is a very pale lemon yellow, which looks like a great colour to brighten up a dull space that's in need of a breath of summery fresh air.

So, what does it all mean? As I've said many times before, colour is such a subjective thing - at the end of the day, there is no "wrong or right", so much of it is down to personal taste, and if I'm decorating in your home, it's YOUR home, and I'll gladly paint it whatever colour you like. But the good news is, there are some great new colours out there, and a bigger choice of both shades and manufacturers than ever before. Or is there too much choice?! With all these options, it might take until my next blog to choose!


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