Grey paint: Top of the pots

Stuck for design ideas? Kate Watson-Smyth discovers inspiration in shades of grey

It's the cheapest makeover you can imagine. A tin of paint and a brush and you can dramatically change an entire room in just a couple of hours. The hardest work comes from deciding what colour to choose.

Whether you're moving or improving, a neutral base is generally a good start and the colour experts at Dulux have decided that grey is the new magnolia, only they call it "Steel Symphony" of course, because no one actually wants to paint their house grey.

Louise Smith, colour and design manager at Dulux, says: "We've grown tired of overt wealth and those 'bling' interiors and the trend is now towards a more sophisticated look with a refined modern twist. Grey gives a modern undercurrent and, combined with a warm neutral shade, will keep the look fresh."

Fionnuala Hughes, B&Q's design manager, agrees: "Grey is very stylish at the moment and neutrals are definitely becoming greyer. It works really well with a feature wall so the contrast isn't too stark and overpowering for the room.

"Feature walls are still the biggest paint trend for the moment and the colours are getting stronger as customers become more confident. Our best selling paint is classic red."

Or course, red goes very well with grey and if you're stuck for inspiration, check out B&Q's new stock from Living Etc, the interiors magazine. There are 24 shades named things like Plimsoll, Wasabi, Rush Hour and Love Letter and they are all, basically, grey.

As Ms Hughes pointed out, you won't want to paint the whole room grey, but it does go surprisingly well with almost any other colour; from reds and pinks, to yellows, creams and browns. If you can't decide on your accent colour, start by looking at the colours you wear most often. If you are comfortable wearing it, the chances are you will be comfortable living in it. And for those of you who profess to wear black all the time, does it really suit you? And if it does, then paint your walls in shades of grey from light to dark.

Combining two colours is a good way to update a room and means you can be bolder in your choice of colour as it needn't overwhelm. Taking the idea of the feature wall one stage further, you can combine two colours on one wall – perhaps using a dado or picture rail as the dividing line.

Another idea that is gradually gaining a foothold is stripes. The geometric look is big in wallpapers and also in paint. Try painting a row of cupboards in every colour on the swatch card. You can also try striping your walls although you might need a professional for that.

Paying someone to paint is an expensive business, but when you see the difference between what they can do, and how long it would take you to achieve something not nearly as good, then it might be worth considering. A decent paint job will add value to your home and given that most buyers make up their mind about a property in less than 10 seconds, a well-presented room with clean fresh paint could be the best investment you make.

Of course, if you're handy with a brush you don't have to stop at the walls. Buying a set of cheap wooden chairs from that Swedish emporium on the outskirts of town, and painting them in contrasting colours is a great way to personalise your room. Remember to bang a nail into each leg and you will be able to paint right down to the bottom without sticking the chair to the floor. If chairs seem a bit fiddly, you can also paint the backs of cupboards to create a look that tones with the rest of the walls.

Moving on from furniture, specialist paints are increasingly available these days. You can now buy spray-on chrome for old fridges and washing machines, as well as radiators and tiles. You can buy paint to cover up your melamine kitchen cupboards and heat resistant enamel for the fireplace, as well as tough floor paint. Try www.international-paints.co.uk for more information on particular paints and ideas.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Voices
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
election 2015Armando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power