Keep it blue in the bedroom, ditch statement walls

Previously safe, neutral shades have given away to an explosion of colour

Put it down to globetrotting, or the mighty influence of Pinterest. According to design consultant Orla Kelly, Irish people are officially over white or magnolia-painted houses, and ready for something much braver.

”I think people are seeing a lot of colours used in commercial places, like their favourite coffee shop or restaurant and it makes them feel nice. They’re wondering, ‘can I transpose that into my life?’ And they very much can,” she notes.

Previously safe and classic options like white, stone and off-white have given way to a fresh explosion of rich and dense room colours, with grey becoming an increasingly popular ‘neutral’ choice for cosy rooms.

“I think Irish people want to use colour, but they just don’t know how,” says Orla. “Far from affecting a house’s resale value for the worse, colour actually makes a home much more covetable. People will walk into the house and think it’s just really cool and sexy.


"In an all-white house, people walk from room to room and feel as though they’re in the same room. If you go from grey to blue to heather, people have different feelings, and will have a bigger experience of the space. People could get an extension or conservatory and not get half the compliments they get from visitors when they’ve picked a good colour.”

Cool and sexy is precisely what comes to mind at the showhouse for the Rath Ullord development in Kilkenny. In one of the house’s main bedrooms, Orla deployed a colour from a palette that she made with Colourtrend, which carries her name. According to received wisdom, blue should be a rather chilly shade for a bedroom: not so, she says.

"The main myth I had to bust is that blues are somehow cold," she counters. "In Ireland where it's often drizzly, yellow doesn't necessarily make a room look sunny. This blue is an amazingly warm colour as it's actually full of yellow. On the dullest day of the year, this will still be bright."

Elsewhere in the Rath Ullord showhome, the kitchen’s ‘greige’ walls are complemented by modish yellow accents. The overall effect is cosy, contemporaneous and charming, and as a wall colour, Kelly notes that the design industry is surprised by grey’s sheer tenacity.

Still, when it comes to blocks of wall colour, past decades - where plum and olive ‘statement’ walls haven’t aged especially well - are often enough to put the frighteners on some people.

“My whole life, I’ve seen colour underdone, but never seen it overdone,” observes Kelly. “People too often err on the side of caution. Colours trend and date, and have done since time immemorial. To me, an all-white house is very ‘70s.

“My advice is to think of a place you like, and use that as a starting point,” Kelly advises. “If you, say, like the colour aquamarine, go onto Pinterest and see what other colours people have used it with.

“An entrance hall is a very good starting point as it’s not a room people spend a lot of time in, and it’s a good place to give character. Once people get going with colour, they find it really addictive.”

Those hoping to get ahead of the curve, meanwhile, could do worse than look at the orange spectrum. “I think this is something that will really catch on soon,” she says.

Orla Kelly appears at the Irish Times Home & Design Theatre at the Permanent TSB Ideal Home Show at the RDS, Dublin on Monday, October 30 at 2pm