Design Classic: Down Pipe Grey Paint

A cool, contemporary shade perfectly in tune with the modern world.

Designers: John Farrow and Richard Ball.

Details: Down Pipe estate emulsion, £39.50 for 2.5l, Farrow & Ball.

A dark, warm grey with blue undertones, this colour was inspired by, you guessed it, the look of drainpipes, which were often made out of lead. A flagship colour from Farrow & Ball, them of the clever names and iconic heritage hues fame, despite its dank origins, Down Pipe has become one of the world’s favourite decorating shades, used by interior designers on walls, floors and woodwork.

In part, this is due to the change in domestic light sources: where once the ubiquitous tungsten bulbs gave off a yellowish glow – well suited to off-white shades such as magnolia – the LEDs and halogen bulbs that replaced them emit a cooler light, which, when teamed with dark surfaces, creates a snug, embracing feel. The rise in popularity of industrial materials – think concrete and steel – plays its part too, as layered greys add a cohesive, free-flowing look to a scheme. The fact that savvy guests at dinner parties can identify the colour of the walls not just by brand but exact shade is perhaps indicative of how finely tuned our design sensibilities have become. And, thanks to magazines like Livingetc, homeowners now understand that painting a modest room white doesn’t make it appear larger at all. Instead, we’ve embraced the dark side…

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