Flying Colours

From ingenious tones to innovative applications, discover the bold new strokes in wall paint. Associate editor Piet Smedy seeks expert advice for repainting and introducing new colour into your home.


1. All bricked up

Photograph: Courtesy of the Little Greene Paint Company

Exposed brick walls can often times be more of an eyesore than a striking design feature. Instead of plastering over it, give the surface a colourful paint treatment for an energetic, contemporary look. ‘Make sure that, before you paint, the wall is scrubbed with sugar soap and treated for fungus,’ warns Nicholas Davey, a paint expert at David Matthews. ‘Once sufficiently dried a coat of masonry primer must be applied to treat any danger of damp. Only then can you apply paint to the wall.’

2. Paint it black

Photograph: Courtesy of Neptune

Interior walls in a dark colour is the most effective way to add cosiness – and drama – to a space. Opt for a paint with a matte, cashmere-effect finish that will add a velvet tactility. ‘Daily wear and tear, along with occasional cleaning, can result in discrepancies in sheen on a wall. Over time, a chalky residue will also develop, which is more prominent on darker pigments,’ cautions Dulux brand manager Nonkululeko Mcunu. ‘A premium paint, such as Dulux Luxurious Silk or Rich Matt, offers better scrub resistance.’


3. Pigment of imagination

Photograph: Jason Ingram

Use traditional paint colours in daring new ways. Here, British decorator Ben Pentreath has painted the wall behind his fireplace in pumpkin orange, a hue usually associated with stately homes in the English countryside. For classic tones in a modern zone, draw on the canon of warmth-producing shades – think chocolate brown, navy blue and khaki green. With regards to the qualities of the paint, experts advise that you opt for a highly durable, washable acrylic, which will be best suited to a fireplace setting. Keep in mind that no interior-quality wall paint is truly heat resistant.

Expert tip ‘Paint doesn’t necessarily have to be colourful, it’s designed to be the perfect background for people or things,’ – interior designer Nicky Haslam.

4. Go with the flow

Photograph: Courtesy of Farrow & Ball

Use colour blocking to make ceilings appear higher and rooms larger. Achieve this by painting interior walls – and woodwork and cornices, if you so choose – in the same hue. Paint the ceilings white, but make sure the pigment undertone complements the colour of the walls. The object here is clear: the eye has to travel. In an enfilade setup where rooms open onto each other, gradually reduce the intensity of the wall paint colour to create a fading effect. ‘A lighter shade of a strong colour, but in a similar tone, will lessen the impact of that colour in areas that you tend to spend a lot of time, while still providing a good flow,’ advises Plascon colour expert Anne Roselt.


5. Under the sun

Photograph: Ngoc Minh Ngo

Natural light plays an important role in selecting the perfect colour for a room. It is important to note that there are different qualities and types of natural light and that it is ever changing, not only during the day but also throughout the seasons. What this means, in terms of wall paint selection, is that the same colour can often times read very differently from room to room, surface to surface, depending on the direction and intensity of the natural light coming through the windows. South-facing rooms generally bring out the cooler tones in a paint colour, so tones will appear to be more green-grey. If you’re using lighter colours, opt for yellow-based shades that will bounce light and make the space feel bigger and more illuminated. North-facing rooms, on the other hand, get flooded in warm light throughout the day, so the colour palette is yours for the picking. Maximise the feeling of space in this situation by choosing pale tones. Soft blues and red-based neutrals will optimise an internal sense of warmth.


6. Different strokes

Photograph: Courtesy of Neptune

Contrast a spray-painted satin duco finish on kitchen cabinetry with a textured wall. You can do this by either creating a textured paint effect or, simply, by using a textured paint. All local paint manufacturers produce their own textured paints, however, Dulux’s Weatherguard and Plascon’s Micatex are reliable recommendations. ‘There are also varying degrees of textured paint, some with a mild, sandy feel and some very rough,’ explains Nicholas Davey. ‘The texture can also be varied depending on how the paint is applied. Using a foam sponge roller will give you a very different result to a lamb’s wool.’ It’s important to note that, traditionally, textured paint has only ever been used on the exteriors where existing plaster work has been unsightly. This is due to the paint’s ability to make blemishes and cracks less noticeable.

7. Spraying power

Photograph: Greg Cox

Consider the paint treatment on furniture in relation to the walls of your home. Here, interior decorator Kim Stephen matched eggshell enamel paint to a vibrant green fabric on an upholstered loveseat. The furniture piece was spray painted for a uniform, silky finish. This method of application, using quality eggshell enamel, will provide optimal results because the paint dries to a durable and washable satin smooth finish. This type of paint is also ideal because it works well with wood, from furniture to doors, trims and window frames. ‘There are some key things to take into consideration,’ warns Imraan Samodien, owner of I Samodien Spray Painting. ‘When speaking to a consultant, be sure to let them know the type of wood, the desired finish and level of glossiness, and within which room the piece is being used. These things affect the paint and application.’

Featured image Courtesy of Farrow & Ball