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Tones of the time: Sales of uplifting green and blue paint surge as we seek to bring the outside in

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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

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

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

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.

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Taoiseach’s family shaped by their working-class roots

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As a special needs assistant at Bunscoil Chríost Rí in Turner’s Cross on the south side of Cork city, Mairéad Martin-Richmond is often asked how she manages financially.

Martin-Richmond, a 59-year-old separated mother of two grown-up children, is a sister of Taoiseach Micheál Martin and says her family’s working-class roots keep her grounded.

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Hines invests in industrial portfolio in Northern Italy

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Hines has reached a binding agreement for an off-market investment to acquire 20 logistics assets located between Emilia Romagna and Lombardy through the Italian fund HEVF II Italy managed by Prelios SGR on behalf of the Hines European Value Fund 2 (HEVF 2). The transaction involves the acquisition of the real estate portfolio from four different selling companies and the simultaneous 15-year lease of the same portfolio to Snatt Logistica Group, a leader in the third-party logistics (3PL) sector focusing exclusively on the fashion industry. The portfolio of 20 logistics assets provides a total of 200,000m² of logistics space around Milan, Parma, Reggio Emilia, and Bologna. They are strategic, well-established logistic centres that enjoy effective, rapid connections with Italy’s main cities and the rest of Europe.

 

“We are pleased to start 2022 with an important investment in the logistics sector that consolidates our presence in the main intersections in Northern Italy. At Hines, we believe in the potential of the logistics sector in Italy and have set an investment target of around €1bn in 2022,” commented Mario Abbadessa, senior managing director & country head of Hines Italy. “We are proud to collaborate with Snatt Logistica Group, which is an international 3PL logistics leader in the luxury fashion industry, and we are certain that we will be able to develop a shared path for growth, guided by common values, including ESG, which is key to our DNA.”

 

Paul White, senior managing director and fund manager for HEVF 2 at Hines, said: “This is an attractive portfolio of assets with a strong, innovative tenant at the forefront of Italy’s fast-growing third-party logistics sector for the fashion industry. We believe that e-commerce will continue to drive long-term demand for high-quality logistics facilities in Italy’s northern cities, pushing the value of these investments forwards, while there is also a significant opportunity to enhance the sustainability performance of existing assets here. This is aligned with our ESG objectives as recognised by GRESB, with HEVF 2 achieving the award of Overall Global Sector Leader in the Diversified Office/Retail category for sustainability performance in 2021.”

 

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Latest Coveney gaffe shows new knack of ‘making small problems big’

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“Don’t mind your press releases,” a Fine Gael source was told by a more experienced hand on their first day in Leinster House; “If you want something out there, just say it in the PP [parliamentary party meeting].”

It’s a truism of Irish politics that these meetings – especially those of the two larger Government parties – leak like the proverbial sieve. This got worse during Covid, when virtual meetings meant members were unencumbered by the need to even appear interested, and journalists were freely briefed in real time. The content of the meeting, coupled with the observations of parliamentarians – arch, knowing, and unfiltered – populated twitter streams and news copy.

So, when Simon Coveney’s remarks about his surprise at the meeting between the Russian ambassador to Ireland and the head of the defence forces were promptly headline news, it can’t have been too much of a shock. “He knows he’s speaking at the leakiest meeting in Leinster House,” observed a source present.

Still, some in the room thought when Michael Creed raised the issue, Coveney would just “warble on like you normally do”. Instead, after a gap of several minutes while other questions were fielded, the Minister for Defence bit down. He said he was “surprised to put it mildly”, several sources present said, and questioned the judgement of it.

Afterwards, sources close to Coveney quickly asserted the Minister meant the tweet from the Russians, and the accompanying picture, were the issue, not the meeting. But multiple sources at the parliamentary party interpreted it as referring to the meeting, and what’s more, as a direct rebuke to the chief of staff. “The tone I got was he was f***ing livid,” said one source.

Either way, the remark was leaked, it was controversial, and early the next morning, Coveney was mending fences in the Dáil, expressing confidence in Clancy and contrition for having brought him into the line of political fire.

A kind interpretation, offered by some at the meeting, is that he feels honour-bound to respond fully to questions from parliamentary colleagues. There is likely truth to that. But equally, many believe he would have known his comments would have been controversial, open to interpretation as a rebuke to the head of the Defence Forces, and that it was meant as a shot across the bows.

Others postulate that – perhaps more worryingly – he didn’t detect the political risk inherent in the remarks, which the Opposition would say had undermined the Chief of Staff . “Simon should have known this was going to result in public comment,” said another person there.

That, in truth is the bigger concern – that Coveney’s bad run of form is down to a blunted political dexterity. “You’d know by the way he said it he wasn’t trying to cause controversy,” one colleague said – adding that it was, however, evidence of Coveney’s new knack of “making small problems into big ones”.

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