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'No dark colours in a small room'... and 4 other paint mistakes you're probably making

Drop the grey neutrals, and think about pink: Interior designer Caroline Foran shares some expert insights.
Apr 1st 2019, 4:56 PM 18,489 1

TIME WAS, WE painted our homes in accordance with a set of hard and fast rules. And, riddled with fear of getting it wrong, we wound up with bland beige and magnolia homes.

Even just the word ‘magnolia’ can send a shiver up the spine of an interior designer, such are the negative associations.

These days, we’re getting a little braver – teal feature walls were the copper pots of colour for a while there – and slowly but surely we’re throwing the rule book out the window, opening ourselves up to lots more fun and individuality in the home.

Ahead of your next DIY project, here are the myths you should ignore and why.

1. Small spaces need light colours

Perhaps the biggest colour myth on the go is that you should never paint a smaller room in a dark colour because it will dwarf the space even more.

Yes, brighter, lighter tones have are known to give the illusion of space, but sometimes you’re better off working with what you’ve got.

Embrace the smaller spaces and instead of trying to make them appear bigger, choose instead to infuse them with atmosphere. What’s more, if you go for cooler dark tones, such as a navy, they can absorb the light and in a slightly different way, they too can succeed in creating the illusion of space.

2. Pale colours make the room feel cold

Granted, a rich terracotta will be warmer on the eye than a pale grey or blue – but leaning towards the latter will not leave you shivering in your living room. It’s all about balance.

If you prefer the cooler tones, you just have to warm things up elsewhere with texture and light. You turn to warm glow lighting, candles, velvet, faux fur, chunky knits, buttery brown leather and vibrant wall prints to crank up the heat. It’s not the job of your walls alone to dictate the mood of your space.

3. Your ceilings must always be white

A new and popular trend is to forget this rule entirely and make a feature statement out of the ceiling. More and more, creative home owners are looking up for an opportunity to add personality.

If you have an affinity for white walls, but you want some splash of vibrancy, expand your horizons. This works particularly well in galley kitchens and hallways.

Another popular trend is to continue your wall colour right up across the ceiling, creating a very cosy and intimate feeling.

4. Pink is too feminine

Au contraire. Pink is far more versatile than it is given credit for. For starters, as proven by a study in a US-based prison, pink can have an incredibly calming and soothing effect (the inmates were less aggressive after being exposed to a certain shade of pink – now known as Baker-Miller pink – that was painted on their cell ceilings).

What’s more, blush pink tones have become the new neutral, providing the perfect backdrop on which a myriad of other colours and textures can work like magic. Add in blacks, natural greenery and warm woods and you’ll be far removed from Barbie.

5. Creams, greys and whites are the only neutral colours

Not true. Though blush pink as a neutral is somewhat of a trend – and one that’s sure to stick around – you’ll also find a wealth of neutrals if you look to colours appearing in abundance in nature. Certain pale greens and blues can provide a gorgeous neutral base that’s a little more exciting and inviting than white.

That said, white does get a lot of unwarranted bad press. White is still a colour and if you style your room with whites in mind – assuming you don’t have sticky-fingered little ones at home – it can still make for a powerful style statement.

More: ‘It’s a total cheat on a mid century classic’: 10 interior designers choose their Ikea must-haves>

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Caroline Foran

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