Paint your walls sunny

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We’ve all become more confident with colour in recent years, and this season the directional dial swings towards the brightest shades of the spectrum. Shocks of red and egg-yolk yellow were spotted throughout at the recent Milan design fair, a gauge of current thinking. They showed that bold colour choices can be easy to live with, and switching the mood from uplifting to cocooning is as simple as selecting the appropriate shade.

Lesson one? With high-impact hues, there is little point in holding back. Spaces that are saturated in colour from ceiling to floor feel energised, enveloping — almost immersive. Amplify the look in glossy finishes (check out @wetpaintct for ideas) or acrylic panels — a modern riff on sexy ’70s styling.

Designer Tatjana von Stein transformed this stairwell at Zurich’s Locke Hotel with a jolt of yellow and ombre stripes. A terracotta shade across the ceiling pulls the scheme together © Kensington Leverne
Interior architect Tristan Auer paired glossy walls with floor-skimming curtains at the recent Angle de Vue exhibition in Milan, creating enveloping spaces that framed vignettes of Philippe Hurel furniture. Shown are Hurel’s Chloe table and Wallis chairs, all POA
Interior architect Tristan Auer paired glossy walls with floor-skimming curtains at the recent Angle de Vue exhibition in Milan, creating enveloping spaces that framed vignettes of Philippe Hurel furniture. Shown are Hurel’s Chloe table and Wallis chairs, all POA
Textural plaster finishes such as tadelakt can temper strong colour choices. Look to the riads of Marrakech for inspiration. This bathroom can be found at the El Fenn Hotel
Textural plaster finishes such as tadelakt can temper strong colour choices. Look to the riads of Marrakech for inspiration. This bathroom can be found at the El Fenn Hotel
Restful rooms require more muted palettes. Painting this bedroom ochre sets the tone for relaxation. On the back wall is L’Alchimiste, which is teamed with Le Portrait on the inner wall of the arch and Le Cocon (White) and L’Alliance, all shades by Ressource Peinture, priced €26.90 per litre
Restful rooms require more muted palettes. Painting this bedroom ochre sets the tone for relaxation. On the back wall is L’Alchimiste, which is teamed with Le Portrait on the inner wall of the arch and Le Cocon (White) and L’Alliance, all shades by Ressource Peinture, priced €26.90 per litre © Oliver Fritze

Layer the tonal aesthetic with fabrics. Curtains take on a new dramatic role in the hands of designers such as Dimorestudio. Founders Britt Moran and Emiliano Salci have proposed a mustard-yellow room swathed in fabric at Dimorecentrale, their Milan HQ: the space was conceived with Maison Royère, the house producing the furniture of the late Jean Royère, a designer known for his bright, plush, playful style. They described the ensemble as a “winter garden”, creating a “warm refuge” where Royère’s Croisillon chairs popped in vibrant red. (Flashes of red — from Memphis to Gucci’s signature deep Rosso — are elevating everything from sofas to lighting. TikTok influencers have dubbed the trend “unexpected red theory”.)

Colour enriches this Hackney home designed by Tatjana von Stein. “My client is Spanish so we tried to emulate the Mediterranean using a typical plasterwork finish in juxtaposition with more urban, modernist metal features and apertures,” she says of the strong tones and textural walls that define the decor
Colour enriches this Hackney home designed by Tatjana von Stein. “My client is Spanish so we tried to emulate the Mediterranean using a typical plasterwork finish in juxtaposition with more urban, modernist metal features and apertures,” she says of the strong tones and textural walls that define the decor © Clemente Vergara

Likewise, interior-architect Tristan Auer poses Philippe Hurel furniture to create vignettes in glossy rooms. There are shades of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks in his theatrical styling, framed in wall-sweeping curtains: the swish of velvet and Vaseline-slick surfaces encase classic furniture.

Decadent draping enriches this bright interiorscape by Dimorestudio and Maison Royère. Royère’s square, slate-topped Croisillon dining table is teamed with Croisillon chairs that lend an unexpected pop of red (all POA)
Decadent draping enriches this bright interiorscape by Dimorestudio and Maison Royère. Royère’s square, slate-topped Croisillon dining table is teamed with Croisillon chairs that lend an unexpected pop of red (all POA)
Wet rooms work well in saturated colour even if you play it safe elsewhere. This suite at Morocco’s El Fenn Hotel shows how smaller spaces can take strong shades without feeling swamped when there’s a good source of natural light
Wet rooms work well in saturated colour even if you play it safe elsewhere. This suite at Morocco’s El Fenn Hotel shows how smaller spaces can take strong shades without feeling swamped when there’s a good source of natural light © Treal Cecile/Ruiz Jean-Michel
This arched doorway is painted in Ca’Pietra’s Pavilion Russet Red (£65 for 2.5l) to frame the focal point of the space – a vanity unit clad in the brand’s geometric Pavilion tiles (£77.62 for box of 10). Rose-tinted Edith’s Pampas paint is washed over the backdrop for contrast
This arched doorway is painted in Ca’Pietra’s Pavilion Russet Red (£65 for 2.5l) to frame the focal point of the space — a vanity unit clad in the brand’s geometric Pavilion tiles (£77.62 for box of 10). Rose-tinted Edith’s Pampas paint is washed over the backdrop for contrast
Designer Rose Uniacke swept Sand Dune Yellow (from £32 a litre) across this space to introduce warmth. She kept the furniture simple and refined to ensure the mellow yellow shade sets the tone
Designer Rose Uniacke swept Sand Dune Yellow (from £32 a litre) across this space to introduce warmth. She kept the furniture simple and refined to ensure the mellow yellow shade sets the tone © Maureen M Evans

Tatjana von Stein uses colour to counteract expanses of glass and light in her projects. At a house in Hackney, the designer has introduced a russet-red kitchen and ochre-toned bedroom within the same cohesive scheme. “We had an opportunity to play with deep, indulgent colour without making the rooms feel small,” she says. “Using a plaster finish helped the light bounce in various ways. There is a slight theatrical flair to using curtains; they can also help zone areas, soften corners or layer long corridors.”

A shot of zingy colour highlights the doorway in this dining space furnished with pieces from Soho Home. The hue echoes the green onyx vein in the Charli table (£5,995) that mixes marbles and terrazzo finishes. Morrell dining chairs (grey, blue), £795, and an Arta rug, £650, are also shown
A shot of zingy colour highlights the doorway in this dining space furnished with pieces from Soho Home. The hue echoes the green onyx vein in the Charli table (£5,995) that mixes marbles and terrazzo finishes. Morrell dining chairs (grey, blue), £795, and an Arta rug, £650, are also shown © Kensington Leverne

The big takeaway from Milan was terracotta, which featured not only via ravishing wall colours but on vessels, furniture and tiles. Interior designers have channelled this earthy shade for some time — proposing, perhaps, a more comfortable statement shade for the home than zingy lemon or siren red. The latest take is to juxtapose the colour with wood panelling, adding textural detailing.

Like red and yellow, terracotta works within a colour wheel that is balanced by complementary undertones of pink and orange — with the odd smudge of brown and green. How far you go depends on personal taste, but if you’re taking your cues from creatives, consider introducing colour in unusual places. The border is back: paint one in a Pantone pop. Door frames and entrances can be elevated with the same treatment: add fluoro flourishes around or beneath the frame. Or try the current twist on colour-blocking by taking a graphic slice of colour across a wall or ceiling.