Brown is the new black – yet again

Brown and white are set to be the colour choice for interiors this year, along with hot shades such as coral and red, say analysts.

Hmn. Bold patterns. Bright colours. Lots of brown. This news kind of makes you wonder if those analysts came up with their findings before the economy tanked in September, doesn’t it?

This is all according to the flooring company Your Floors, whose press release I received last week. Their advice for the coming year is:

* 1.    Be bold. Bolder patterns and brighter colours are in high demand his year as consumers opt for more vivid shades to liven up their homes. Examples, say the company, include striped carpets, pillar-box red curtains and patterned upholstery.

* 2.    Colour your world.  Bright reds and corals are hot this season and look fab in bedrooms. Tamer colour trends include blues, smokey greys, pinks and purples.  Lilacs, aubergines and mauves will be huge for spring and give an impression of light and space, so perfect for smaller homes or rooms that don’t catch the sun.

* 3.    Brown is the new black again.  Team dark laminate floors with pale walls to achieve a stunning contemporary look that’s amazing in any home.

* 4.    Nicely Natural.  Whether you’re looking at paints, fabrics or flooring, this year’s must have-neutrals are stone, mocha and cappuccino, as well as soft whites and greys. Try teaming a coffee coloured carpet with a slightly darker rug or painting an accent wall in a richer colour than the rest of the room.

* 5.    Vinyl floors are back. All tastes are catered for with bright modern mosaics, monochrome graffiti- style swirls and neutral stone effect tiles – all hot looks for 2009.

* 6.    Less is more.  Keep the look simple with one or two key items such as a vibrant wall hanging and a couple of candles on the mantle piece.

Well, some of that I agree with. Bold colours and patterns won’t appeal to most Brits, who still regard property as an investment rather than as something to live in, and therefore tend to paint everything magnolia so it won’t offend a prospective buyer. That’s the trouble with practicality – it gets in the way of an individual statement. And coral is a pretty colour – I’ve used it on and off in this house, especially in the kitchen, where the units are hidden by coral check curtains. 

However, neutrals are always a favourite with me. Frankly I’ve been through my wild colour phase, when we did every room a different, vibrant colour. In our library area alone we had turquoise beams, a black floor, peacock-blue woodwork and red walls (glazed and reglazed – I did five coats, including a transparent silver). But times change, and the only colour we’ve retained from that scheme is the beaten-copper effect cathedral ceiling.

This will never be repainted – EVER. It took me too much sweat and anguish, perched on top of a stepladder with a paintbrush tied to a broom handle, stirring copper dust in suspension, over red oxide primer. It was like treacle, and my back was near broken at the end of it, but it is really beautiful and casts a warm glow into the room. These days, it’s teamed with French grey woodwork, white walls and a sort of bone-coloured floor in vinyl tile which is practically indestructible – I love it. With all the coloured spines of the books, a large tapestry on one wall, and 1930s posters in clip frames, this mezzanine landing is about my favourite room in the house. 

This week, though, my focus has – very mundanely – been on the kitchen floor, which is a pig. It wanders off in all directions (nothing in this house is level) and also humps over two spine beams from the cellar below. Worst of all, it’s made of parquet, which is coming up all over the place. I wish we’d known when we bought the house and this room was still empty that this floor would prove so troublesome, but now that the kitchen is full of units bolted to the floor, and white goods and heavy furniture, the pair of us balk at the tast of removing every last thing to screed the floor level, or even to lay vinyl, which would at least fit over the humps nicely.

So last week I decided to repair it. It took me five hours to patch the missing parquet with cork tile, then I mixed up a French grey paint (I always mix my own colours) and it’s now had its first coat. Just filling with grout, another coat and then varnish to go, and it’ll be finished. And so will my knees. 

Still, it’s already looking fantastically better than it has in years – the parquet was softwood and every little piece had developed a black line round it, so the floor never looked clean even when I’d just washed it. And this option has a particular attraction – it’s free. All I’ve used is my own labour, and materials we already had in, which has saved us about 300 euros in vinyl – enough to pay for our winter holiday in Brittany.


That’s me knocking off now. Only two hours to go till the inauguration, and doubtless I will be a snivelling wreck throughout.  

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