How to transform your home with paint and colour

This weekend marks the first day of spring, and kicks off a new season of decorating – which might feel particularly pressing this year, as we prepare finally to welcome guests back into our homes in the coming months. A lick of something fresh on the walls is often the quickest and most transformative way to impact a space, not to mention the cheapest. But before you reach for a pot of plain emulsion, wait up. There are some exciting and less conventional finishes to consider that will elevate your interiors and give them a fresh, fashion-forward look. Here’s our guide to the ones to know. 

How to update your home with paint

Boss the gloss

Gloss certainly isn’t the new kid on the block, but the way it’s being used right now feels fresh. ‘The shiny surface encourages light to bounce around in a really uplifting way to create a sense of space and depth, even in smaller rooms,’ says Dominic Myland of paint brand Mylands, which has seen demand for gloss increase over the past year. For an unexpected twist, Joa Studholme, colour curator at Farrow & Ball, suggests using the brand’s full gloss on ceilings: ‘If you use the same colour as your walls, then the ceiling height will appear to go up and you create a truly magical space.’

Top tip: Seek out your light sources – here gloss appears luminous under a skylight (above: a project by interior designer Rachel Chudley, rachelchudley.com, using a bespoke gloss paint shade by Donald Kaufman Color, donaldkaufmancolor.com, in a kitchen)


Seek out your light
sources – in this project by interior designer Rachel Chudley (rachelchudley.com), gloss
appears luminous
under a skylight. Rachel used a bespoke gloss paint
shade by Donald Kaufman Color (donaldkaufmancolor.com)


Credit: Rachel Chudley

Wardrobe doors in
Burlington Arcade No 216 gloss
by Mylands


Wardrobe doors in
Burlington Arcade No 216 gloss
by Mylands

She also suggests using gloss to make a feature, such as painting a stair runner in a strong tone and contrasting it with a lighter eggshell colour on the rest of the staircase. You could start small and experiment with a faux bedhead, or paint a pin – board above your workspace. A split finish – whereby the lower part of the wall, which endures much more traffic, is painted in gloss and contrasted with a flat emulsion above – is savvy for hallways, stairs and children’s rooms. Sanding is key if your surface is uneven and two coats are a must; spraying gives a beautiful glass finish, and if you’re using a brush, always lay off in the same direction.

Velvet opulence

If matt paint is more your thing, then look up Dulux’s new Heritage range. The collection comprises 112 contemporary colours inspired by British architecture and design through the ages, and boasts a velvety finish that is said to feel as good as it looks. ‘The wonderful thing about all matt finishes is that they absorb light, which means that you don’t notice the odd lump and bump as much as you would on a gloss or semi-sheen finish,’ says Marianne Shillingford, the brand’s creative director. Her favourite shade is Midnight Teal: ‘It is where green and blue meet and looks amazing in different light conditions, from dawn till dusk.’

 A study painted
in DH Oxford Blue


A study painted
in DH Oxford Blue

The USP of the Heritage range is that it’s luxurious yet wipeable, and more practical than most matt finishes. Marianne suggests using it in a relaxed and grown-up setting like a bedroom or living room, ‘any room in which you want a touch of well-deserved luxury’. From £19.18 for 1 litre, Homebase.

Make a statement with copper… or concrete

For the industrial look that is much-desired but not seen in many homes, why not play around with a special-effect paint? Scottish brand Craig & Rose has created on-trend concrete and copper finishes as part of its Artisan Special Effects range. ‘A distressed metallic wall or polished concrete is a favourite of interior designers with a large budget,’ says Jane Rockett, co-founder of interiors e-tailer Rockett St George, which stocks the brand. ‘These paints achieve that look at a fraction of the cost and add a gorgeous, unique finish to any space.’

She suggests using the concrete finish in larger spaces, such as an open-plan kitchen or living area, where you can fully appreciate the effect, and adding other natural textures like wood and greenery to give greater depth.

Top tip: Create contrast with colourful soft furnishings for an unexpected twist (Concrete-effect walls give a subtly edgy look in a bedroom; bedlinen by Sheridan, sheridanaustralia. co.uk)


Concrete-effect
walls give a subtly
edgy look in
a bedroom; bedlinen
by Sheridan (sheridanaustralia.co.uk)

Craig & Rose’s
Copper Effect overlaid
with the Copper
Patina solution


Craig & Rose’s
Copper Effect overlaid
with the Copper
Patina solution

Craig & Rose’s warming Copper Effect is brought to life by dragging a brush over the surface while the paint is still wet, and can subsequently be treated with a patina solution to create a rust effect. ‘I have seen this used up a stairway and on a landing – it looks spectacular in those spaces that can often be overlooked,’ says Jane. She advises practising on a piece of board first to get familiar with the paints, then using a roller for the first coat and a brush for the second. ‘Apply in sweeping movements and once you’ve got to grips with it, go for it and enjoy creating something remarkable!’ Pots start at £6.20 for 125ml, craigandrose.com and rockettstgeorge.co.uk​.

Go luxe with lime wash

If you’ve been drawn to the textured, earthy walls peppering your Instagram feed, then there’s probably one name responsible: Bauwerk. This Australian company specialises in natural lime washes, which react with the air on application to create a matt, stone-like finish. Emma Shone-Sanders, co-founder of interior design studio and store Design & That (designandthat.com), has used Bauwerk both in her boutique and at home. ‘There’s something almost dream-like about the build-up texture, which adds a depth and interest to the walls and space,’ she says.

 A living room
painted in Seed Pod by
Bauwerk


A living room
painted in Seed Pod by
Bauwerk

After much practice, Emma has this tip: ‘Always keep the edge wet as you work across the wall, so you don’t end up with a harsh line where it dries. The beauty is in the softness of the brush strokes as they start to layer up and build texture.’

From £30 for 1 litre, bauwerkcolour.co.uk

Read more: 

Why mantelscaping is the decor trend that you need right now ​

5 kitchen trends for lockdown and beyond

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Have you transformed your home with paint? Share your own tips and advice in the comments section below. 
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