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Brave Ground – Dulux colour of the year 2021

My hot-take on the Dulux colour of the year? I can’t give you one, because so far I have only seen it on a screen. 

I’m being a touch disingenuous – if I was completely smitten with the sandy-brown neutral I would have ordered myself a swatch and a test pot… which I haven’t… but there is a serious point here; You absolutely cannot judge an interior colour (e.g. paint or fabric) by how it renders digitally. 

The importance of testing

Some colours, especially lighter and less-saturated ones, render appallingly digitally. We love Farrow & Ball skimming stone (a really lovely soft grey). On my desktop screen it looks yellow (and pretty gross), on my laptop it looks pink, and on my phone it looks brown. None of these renderings matches the colour card.

Even with bright or rich colours – a photo of it in situ can give you a good indication of whether it is a colour you like, but not how it will look in your home and the light. We would always advise test-swatches as part of colour selection.

So… do I want Brave Ground in my house on the basis of the pictures I’ve seen online? Not particularly (honestly, it reminds me a bit of tobacco-stained walls in old pubs). Do I think it could work well in some design schemes? Probably – but let’s get a test patch done and take stock.

What does colour of the year even mean?

Trends are undoubtably important to the design industry as a whole. Some trends are a reflection of the changing needs of society, or evolutions in materials and technology, and it is important for us designers to consider these in our work. Some trends (like colour of the year statements from Dulux and Pantone) are what I would call ‘fashions’. Considering and responding to these shorter-term trends can be inspiring and provoke creativity for designers… but for everyone else? I’d say feel free to like it and use it in your home, or ignore it entirely! More on how to use trends in your home here;

Brave or bland?

I’ve seen some disappointed responses to the announcement of Brave Ground as colour of the year on the basis that frankly, given the horror-show of 2020 so far, we could all do with something a bit jollier! I’m inclined to agree with this viewpoint – although Brave Ground echoes the trend of using natural materials and colours in the home (a persistent theme in recent years and generally something we like!), I am a big fan of using brighter and richer colours in the home to lift the spirits. 

Blush + brass bathroom as part of 2 adjoining flats remodel and renovation by Absolute Project Management

Brown as a neutral

That said, most colour schemes benefit from a ‘neutral’, and brown colours can work really well.

We will often recommend warm, brown-based off-whites or greys in rooms with colder, north-facing light. On a colour chart, next to all the fresh greys and fun colours they usually look a little drab, but on a wall next to crisp white woodwork and mouldings they can be warm and sophisticated.

Bedroom with parquet floor, grey feature wall and blue velvet curtains - renovation by Absolute Project Management

If you’d like help with the colours and finishes of your home, get in touch!

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