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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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Barings and HBD secure planning for London logistics scheme (GB)

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Barings and HBD have secured detailed planning for a strategic logistics scheme in Rainham, London, transforming a 20-acre brownfield site. The new development, Momentum London, is being delivered by Barings and HBD in a joint venture partnership. It will create 381,814ft² of new logistics and industrial space across four units ranging from 41,000 -171,000ft².

 

The scheme will target Net Zero Carbon, BREEAM “Excellent” and an EPC “A+” rating. This is being achieved by dynamic design, careful consideration of materials, zero use of fossil fuels, maximizing photovoltaic solar panels, battery storage and intelligent building systems. The units will be 100% EV ready, including passive fleet charging to the yards.

 

The logistics park will be set in landscaped environment with picnic and public areas, as well as direct access onto the Thames Cycle Path, so that it brings further social benefits to the area. Positioned on the River Thames, with potential for jetty access, Momentum will offer an easy stepping stone into Central London and out via the A13, just minutes away.

 

Darren Hutchinson, Head of UK Real Estate Transactions and Managing Director at Barings, said: Momentum London will be a strategically located logistics scheme with strong environmental and social credentials, beneficial both to future occupiers and the communities around it. Logistics is one of Barings’ preferred investment sectors and Momentum London exemplifies the kind of developments we’re seeking, with a keen interest in exploring joint ventures like this one with HBD.”

 

Simon Quine, Senior Development Surveyor at HBD, said: “Industrial and logistics space remains in very limited supply across London, particularly larger distribution units. Momentum will plug that gap within the M25 and provide modern, sustainable logistics and distribution space to serve London and the wider South East market. Landscaping and wellness have been thoroughly considered, with careful design considerations and enhancements to the Thames Foot and Cycle path, which we hope will help occupiers to attract and retain staff.”

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Mirrored furniture trend can create the illusion of space in your home

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Mirrored furniture provokes strong emotions. Some see it as the epitome of bad taste, flashy and bling. Others know that mirrors have magic powers.

A mirrored table or cabinet makes a room or a hallway appear more swish and spacious. It’s a trick that bars and restaurants employ to ensure their establishments appear roomier and more inviting — and they can add lustre to your home, too.

Choosing a piece of mirrored furniture also sends out a sign that you are aware of one of the year’s trends — the return of Art Deco, the influential style that emerged in the 1920s. 

Reflections: A mirrored bedside table. The power of the mirror to create an impression has been recognised for centuries

Reflections: A mirrored bedside table. The power of the mirror to create an impression has been recognised for centuries

It blended forms that celebrated modern machinery with decorative elements drawn from Greco-Roman culture and nature. 

The mirror was a favourite material, used on the surfaces of furniture and walls to supply a shimmering silver and gold effect.

Probably the most famous piece of Art Deco architecture is New York’s Chrysler Building. Completed in 1930, its sunburst-patterned stainless steel spire remains one of the key elements of the Manhattan skyline.

Art Deco console tables, drinks trolleys and other items from the era of the building’s construction sell for thousands on auction sites such as 1stdibs underlining the growing appeal of this aesthetic. 

Jamie Watkins, the co-founder of fabric and wallpaper company Divine Savages, explains Art Deco’s allure for a new audience.

‘Art Deco, with its bold geometrical patterns was such an iconic period for design: it’s synonymous with glamour and luxury.’

The resurgent popularity of Art Deco is also based on its practicality: a mirrored piece works with almost any interior, adding interest and depth.

The power of the mirror to create a wow impression has been recognised for centuries. 

Examples of this technique include the round mirror on the wall behind the bride and groom in Jan van Eyck’s 1434 Arnolfini Portrait in the National Gallery. It sends out the message that the couple are discerning — and wealthy.

Cheers: B&M's £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves

Cheers: B&M’s £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves

The hall of mirrors in the palace of Versailles was designed to be a place of beauty, but also to display the financial resources of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Mirrors were a luxury item until an inexpensive manufacturing process was invented in the 1830s.

In 2022, it is possible to pick up mirrored pieces for under £100. B&M has a £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves that would lend an air of Thirties elegance to any gathering. The £94.99 Ellison serving cart (a U.S. term for drinks trolley) from Wayfair has a similar vibe.

If you believe that the right mirrored trolley would save you money on trips to bars, the larger £144.95 gold oval mirrored trolley from Melody Maison could be the thing.

A mirrored cocktail cabinet will dazzle guests. The £1,200 Primrose & Plum champagne and gold cabinet has a Jazz-Age feel.

The £299 Venetian sideboard from Furniture Market, meanwhile, is a more modestly priced way to conjure up the party spirit of the Roaring Twenties.

The show flats of apartment blocks are often equipped with mirrored cocktail cabinets containing bottles of spirits and crystal glasses. This makes buyers dream of dinner parties, with a prelude of aperitifs, but also serves to make the apartment appear even roomier.

A console table in the hall also creates an illusion of space which can be amplified by the addition of a lamp. HomesDirect365 has a range in the style of almost every era including Art Deco, Regency, the 1960s and the 1970s. Prices start at £233.

The bedroom is often the most cramped room in either a house or flat which is why this can be the best place to experiment with mirrored furniture. 

The desire to preserve family harmony is another reason. The other members of your household may prefer the kitchen and living room to be slick and understated, seeing anything mirrored as excessive.

In the bedroom, however, you can indulge your decor fantasies. Habitat has the one-drawer Hepburn bedside table for £76.

Next offers the antique effect Fleur bedside table which costs £225 for the one-drawer version and £275 for the two-drawer version. 

The Fleur is also available as a six-drawer chest for £599 or a £1,150 double wardrobe if you seek to waft around your bedroom channelling your inner 1930s Hollywood screen siren. 

Dunelm’s Venetian mirrored dressing table also offers a chance to live out your dream of silver screen stardom (£449).

If mirrored furniture has brought out your party animal, kindling a passion for Art Deco in every guise, Divine Savages offers Deco Martini wallpaper whose design is based on the geometric forms, with a hidden Martini glass within the print (£150 per roll).

Some of your guests may not be too busy checking out their reflections on the doors of the mirrored cabinet to notice this subtle and witty detail in the wallpaper.

Savings of the week! water jugs… Up to 52% off 

The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is half-price at £22

The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is half-price at £22

Sitting outside on a sunny afternoon is already delightful. But it is even more enjoyable if you are sipping on a cool drink or an iced coffee from a generously sized jug, or maybe even a Pimm’s. The arrival of the July sales means bargains abound.

If you prioritise practicality, Ocado’s textured lustre plastic picnic jug has 33 per cent off at £8.

The price of the pleasingly geometric plastic smoky-grey Prism jug from Wayfair is 16 per cent off at £10.10. 

If you would like to feel as if you are in the south of France, John Lewis has the plain glass Arles wicker-wrapped jug. It is reduced from £25 to £12, down 52 per cent.

Wanting something more elegant that you can also use for flowers? The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is also half-price at £22.

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VGP acquires French logistics development

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VGP NV and VALGO signed an agreement to purchase 32 hectares of land that housed the former Petroplus refining units in Petit-Couronne, near Rouen. This brownfield rehabilitation project is fully in line with VGP’s core expertise and strategy. Thanks to the six years ownership of the site by VALGO and its expertise in asbestos removal, soil and water table decontamination, in-situ waste treatment and development, this area has now become a suitable site for the development of new industries and business activities.

 

On the banks of the river Seine and close to the A13 highway, the 32-hectare area of land offers its future users a highly strategic location. Following the extensive depollution work carried out by VALGO, the site is now ready for redevelopment. VGP expanded into France only a few months ago and is delighted to start its French business activities in the dynamic Rouen Normandy metropolis area, via this major project. In total, around 150,000m² of land are set to be redeveloped to accommodate industrial and logistics projects, with work due to begin in 2023.

 

Jan Van Geet, CEO VGP, said: “VGP is delighted to begin its business activities in France on a site as exceptional as this one, with strong economic and environmental ambitions that are shared by both our partner, VALGO, and the local authorities. As the rehabilitation of brownfield sites is at the heart of our business, this project is a great opportunity for us to deploy our industrial and logistical know-how. The uncertain geopolitical situation and the rise in transport prices mean that companies are increasingly looking for local support to start their business. In this context, we strongly believe in the relevance of our integrated model with a long-term vision. We are now eager to get to work and bring all the expertise of the Group to the project.”

 

Francois Bouche, CEO VALGO, commented: “We are delighted that this huge piece of land has been sold to a major investor with experience in redeveloping brownfields in Europe. However, I would first like to celebrate the work of the men and women who worked so hard to make this colossal project a success. It took more than 1 million hours and over €60m in investment by VALGO to turn the page on over 80 years of refining on this site, which already employs 600 people.”

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