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349 Hagley Road, Edgbaston,
Birmingham, B17 8DL

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Paint it black...

I absolutely love Christmas!! Everything seems brighter, warmer and cosier. Houses are beautifully decorated and welcoming. Folks are full of the Christmas spirit – and not only the type that comes from a bottle! Then there’s New Year, and a feeling of hope and optimism, a feeling that things really are getting better, and there’s so much to look forward to. And then there’s . . . well not much really. A bit of an anti-climax. Twelfth night duly arrives, down come the decorations and the house looks barer than ever. It can even look a bit tatty. Perhaps it was like that before Christmas and we just didn’t notice. We’re all spent out, and dreading the arrival of the January credit card statement, so a major facelift is out of the question.

But don’t worry, you’d be amazed how different and how refreshed a room looks with just a simple coat of paint. Of course you could always re-paint using the same colour, but why not beef up your existing shade, or try another colour altogether. By the way, don’t take the title of this piece too literally, I just thought that as I’d started last month’s article with a musical reference I’d see how long I could get away with song titles before the editor notices and tells me off. Having said that, the renowned designer Nina Campbell always says that no room is complete without at least some black in the scheme.

Regular readers of this editorial will know by now that I’ve long been a champion of Little Greene paints, and I have to confess that I still am. Their colour range is one of the most comprehensive I’ve come across, comprising 3 collections. Their original offering, entitled Colours of England, includes a number of authentic shades developed with English Heritage, acknowledging all of the key periods of interior design from early Georgian right up to the late twentieth century. A few years ago they built on this success story by taking 12 of their best colours and producing each of them in 4 different strengths of colour, from light to dark, calling this collection Colour Scales. And as if that wasn’t comprehensive enough, around 18 months ago they launched another 28 colours under the not desperately inspiring but quite succinct title “Grey”. It’s a title that really doesn’t do the collection justice, as the colours range from soft chalky whites, through to rich, dark peaty browns and charcoal greys. My personal favourite has the splendid and evocative name “Toad”.

I love Little Greene paints not only for their colours however, but just as much for their quality and range of finishes. Using up to 40% more pigment than competitors, their colours have a magnificent depth to them, and are actually better priced than some of the so-called premium brands. It was about this time last year that I said I’d never come across a decorator who doesn’t rave about Little Greene, or a decorator who does rave about other manufacturers beginning with an F and a B. Well, what a commotion that caused !!! The manufacturer in question threw their toys out of the pram and closed our account. Ah well, I suppose I deserved it.

Since I last wrote about paint however, there have been a couple of notable additions to the field of play – one new kid on the block and one spruced-up kid. Terence Conran (hardly a new kid himself of course), having worked closely with a hugely experienced company called Master Paintmakers, has recently launched a splendid range under the title Paint By Conran. It’s a range split into 5 individual collections, each created with the colours of a particular landscape in mind. It really is a lovely colour palette, both as a whole, and within each landscape. The first, Cottage Garden, draws on the colours of British garden flowers, from the soft powder blues of forget-me-nots to the bold flashes of summer poppies and bright golden sunflowers. The second landscape is called Harvest, combining soft corn colours with deep earthy umbers. The third, entitled Highland, exhibits the heathery clarets you would expect, along with some really rich blue-greys, and has my own favourite colour name “Damp Sheep”. This is followed by Kitchen Garden, comprising fresh leafy greens, rich autumnal reds, and clean frosty teals. The offering is completed by Orchard, a range of soft greens and whites.

The spruced-up kid comes in the form of another long-time favourite of mine, Designers Guild. For many years they have produced a lovely, albeit somewhat limited, range of colours that worked extremely well with their fabrics and papers. In the last few weeks they have totally revamped their range, producing 154 beautiful and contemporary colours, from chalky neutrals all the way through to the vibrant hues for which they are so well known. Although of course they still complement beautifully Designers Guild’s own ranges, they really have come up with a superb stand-alone collection.

So what are you waiting for? Dig out your overalls and your brushes . . . or if you can’t summon up the time or energy, pick up the phone to your favourite decorator.

John Biddell, John Charles Interiors

Live 24 7 magazine editorial - January 2015

All images on this page courtesy of The Little Greene Paint Company Limited.