Circumstances have compelled us to look at our homes anew, and we are not always liking what we see.
An outbreak of interior ennui is spreading, for which decor guru Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen blames the overuse of beige, or greige (grey-meets-beige) paint.
This neutral palette promises to deliver a chic Scandi look. But the result can be more ‘mid-Eighties building society’, according to Llewelyn-Bowen, a lover of exuberance in domestic style who is a guest judge on BBC2’s Interior Design Masters series.
Elegant: Living room walls in Invisible Green by period paint specialist Edward Bulmer
However, there are signs that a rebellion has begun against greige in all its guises, and the off-white and cream tones, plus what used to be the all-invasive magnolia.
There has been a rise in sales of brightly coloured paint at B&Q, with demand for blues and greens up by more than a third over a year, as customers try to bring nature inside. Dulux is also reporting a surge of interest in these colours (dulux.co.uk).
Its best-selling blues are Sapphire Salute, a deep navy, and Denim Drift, a grey-ish tone that blends well with yellows.
Dulux’s most sought-after greens are Willow Tree, a shade of sage, and Overtly Olive, restrained but elegant.
Niki Schafer, a designer who focuses on the psychological aspects of interior trends, believes that blues and greens, and, in particular, green patterns, soothe us, while adding a dose of positivity.
If you want to raise your productivity levels, you should paint your home-office blue. If you prefer green, research from Dulux indicates this colour also enhances your output.
Whatever you do, avoid corporate off-white if you want to get ahead.
Opening statement: A front door in Dulux Indigo
Despite such mood and career-boosting advice, it can be challenging to turn your back on neutrals. But Martin Waller, founder of global design group Andrew Martin (andrewmartin.co.uk), says that you should make the leap.
‘Paint is the cheapest, easiest and most effective way to transform a space, especially since there are more walls in a home than anything else,’ he says.
‘Darker colours form a much better background for paintings and artworks than white, which art galleries and museums have discovered.’
Having painted a room blue or green, it may take time to accustom yourself to the look.
M R Waller says: ‘You’re likely to be horrified. People find it difficult to cope with change. Leave it for a week and your feelings will alter. I suspect you won’t hate it and if you do, repainting isn’t that difficult.’
If you are still hesitant, he suggests you start your transformation in a cloakroom or small bedroom, since richer colours work well in such spaces, despite the accepted wisdom that white paint makes a room seem larger.
He practises what he preaches in his own home, using the Andrew Martin paint range which has 20 shades of green and 18 different blues, including the preppy Nantucket Blue, a summery hue.
One of his bedrooms has just been repainted in vibrant Porto Tile, inspired by the tiles of this Portuguese city.
Anyone still tempted to take the easy option of a white-with-a-touch-of-grey can immerse themselves in the websites of the major paint names which give advice on the shades that best suit certain rooms, with images that will inspire even the most reluctant DIY-er.
Farrow & Ball’s sitting room suggestions included Vardo, a rich shade of teal used in Romany wagons and Black-Blue which contrives to be striking without being oppressive (farrow-ball.com).
Bancha, a shade of olive green would make a slightly clinical kitchen feel more welcoming. Duck Green, named for the plumage of the Mallard duck, aims to conjure up the calm of nature in a box-room home office.
The products of period paint specialist Bulmer are used at historic buildings and mansions, including the Tower of London and Castle Howard.
These tones have a special appeal to younger people raised in Ikea homes with white walls, who are now reacting against this minimalist background and opting for a more heritage aesthetic.
Why settle for cream when you can use Edward Bulmer’s Jonquil pink and its Pea Green (edwardbulmerpaint.co.uk) in a sitting room?
Contemporary grey furniture blends in well against this 18th-century backdrop popularised by the TV drama series Harlots, set among the lavishly decorated bawdy houses of London.
When selecting a shade of blue or green, it’s wise to test your choices. Experts recommend that you paint a 2 ft sq patch of the same paint next to the window, opposite the window and close to a door.
Technology can speed this process. Download onto your phone the apps from Crown (My Room Painter) or Dulux (Dulux Visualiser) and drop a selection of shades onto the pictures you have taken of your room.
Instagram is another useful resource to look at. B&Q (@bandq_uk), Little Green (@littlegreenpaintcompany) and Paint & Paper Library (@paintandpaperlibrary) can help cure your interior ennui, persuading you that, after a long winter, we need the blues and greens of spring.
What your home really needs is… a pouffe
The £38 Habitat Mid Century Pouffe in orange, from argos.co.uk supplies a 1950s look
Are there any differences between an ottoman, a footstool and a pouffe? Not really, although some contend that only an ottoman provides storage.
This piece of furniture is named for the low couches used by the rulers of the Ottoman Empire, whose heyday was the 16th century.
Let’s agree that your home needs a footstool, a pouffe or an ottoman now because it’s cold outside and we should put our feet up and stay cosy.
If you want an ottoman on which to rest your feet and display coffee-table books, the £748 Anthropologie rug-printed folkthread could be your indulgence purchase (anthropologie.com).
And the Heal’s Balmoral has a regal look with deep-button upholstery (from £699, heals.com).
Dunelm (dunelm.com) has the £149 padded Minstrel (in mustard, light grey and charcoal) with storage space, styled like a retro suitcase.
The £38 Habitat Mid Century Pouffe in orange, from argos.co.uk supplies that 1950s look. Next’s £55 round Pom Pom Pouffe in charcoal or ochre velour has the 1970s vibe (next.com).
Whichever you choose, a snug Bronte By Moon herringbone throw, £95 (johnlewis.com) will turn up the heat.