Great excitement abounds because the Dulux Colour of the Year has just been announced for 2021, and it's a colour that seems to have united those in the know as being really rather good.
Called Brave Ground, it's the sort of shade you might once have used as an accent colour in a minimalist white box. You see, while it's a more calming take on the browns and aubergines that have been prevalent throughout 2020, it's also, really, a modern take on taupe, that colour that was invented to sit alongside an orchid in a pot on a white hall console table. Brave Ground harks back to the first mushroom shades made popular by Kelly Hoppen over 15 years ago, but this time, instead of being paired with neutrals, it's being used to soften deeper colours like this midnight blue, above.
And so, because looking forward to a fresh start in 2021 - and an even fresher colour palette - seems to be more enriching than worrying about the American election, we asked a few of our favourite designers how they'd use this hue.
Interior designer Abigail Ahern is known for her love of sludgy shades - as a recent guest on our podcast series Home Truths (opens in new tab) she talked of how she'll walk in nature and take pictures of muddy puddles for her interiors inspiration - and so perhaps it's no surprise she has warmed to Dulux Colour of the Year's Brave Ground's take on brown.
"I am a little bit obsessed with Brave Ground, as it's such a naturing hue and one I can see using everywhere," Abigail Ahern (opens in new tab) says. "Soft, comforting, earthy and muted I would use this hue in the bedroom as its super restorative, or in the living room, especially as mine overlooks the garden and I so love that reassuring connection by using the colours found in nature outside and echoing them inside."
Never one to shy away from making over a piece of furniture, Abigail also think Brave Ground would be perfect update. "I would go a step further and paint cabinetry out in it - from kitchen cupboards to storage units beyond beautiful with a black wall," Abigail says. "With homes being at the epicentre of our lives right now naturing palettes speaking of familiarity are so key and this one totally nails it."
See Also: Interior Design Trends – the biggest interior trends for 2021 (opens in new tab)
When writing for Livingetc's September 2020 issue about the meaning of style, interior designer Russell Sage (opens in new tab) said that every tone should have a touch of earth in it. So, instead of a canary yellow, he advised a richer mustard instead.
So perhaps Dulux's new Earth palette, which includes Brave Ground, was tailor made for him.
"I’m not sure if it’s possible to be in love with a colour, but I do love this one," says Russell Sage. "It’s a great day round colour, warming in natural daylight and lights beautifully in artificial lamp light in the evening’s. Perfect for the cold winter months!It’s also a glorious backdrop for the jewel tones that are so in vogue at present, allowing other colours to really pop out and speak for themselves."
See also: Living room colour ideas (opens in new tab)
Interior designer Enass Mahmoud, creative director of Decor by Enass (opens in new tab), is also a fan of the Dulux Colour of the Year, though suggests using it sparingly.
"As a designer who does try to avoid the beige and creams, Dulux's Brave Ground is definitely a colour that is only to be used by the brave!" Enass says. "I think this would be a great colour to complement other rich earthy tones rather than being the main attraction. For instance, you could use this colour on one wall against a honey-toned wall and then compliment the room with white accessories and indoor plants. This colour would also look great in a kitchen against dark mahogany cabinets with gold handles. For me, this colour would be all about complimenting with other rich colours and natural surfaces and textures."
The interior designer and creative director of Studio Fortnum (opens in new tab), Rebecca Wakefield, has already been using this shade in schemes with her clients.
"Interestingly, I’m working on three client projects at the moment who all want this greige-y/tan type colour for their kitchen units," Rebecca says. "We are using timbers, oak and walnut and brass accents to warm it up and Zellige tiles alongside polished concrete and black accents to ground the space. It’s a really organic and subtle colour and works so well with greens so I’m keen to introduce some fauna into the spaces as well."
See also: Watch a video tour of Rebecca Wakefield explaining her own home as part of our House Tours Open Door series (opens in new tab)
The interior designer Minnie Kemp (opens in new tab) - who is also Livingetc's columnist in the print edition - is known for favouring daring shades of paint, but still finds a place for Brave Ground.
“It has a warm, organic yet contemporary feel. I would use this for woodwork in a drawing room combined with happy sky blue walls," Minnie says. "The furniture would be upholstered with heavy oatmeal linens with flashes of blue coming in with piping and cushions. On the curtains I would use the new Jane Churchill Neisha fabric to add some spice! To create a running thread in your scheme I would also use Brave Ground on the kitchen cupboards, this liveable shade will compliment a vibrant tiled splash back or antique mirror, in a dream world finish with emerald marble work surfaces. Effortlessly cool.”
See also: Small living rooms: Interior designers share their secrets (opens in new tab)
See more about the Dulux Colour of the Year 2021 here (opens in new tab)
The editor of Livingetc, Pip Rich (formerly Pip McCormac) is a lifestyle journalist of almost 20 years experience working for some of the UK's biggest titles. As well as holding staff positions at Sunday Times Style, Red and Grazia he has written for the Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times and ES Magazine. The host of Livingetc's podcast Home Truths, Pip has also published three books - his most recent, A New Leaf, was released in December 2021 and is about the homes of architects who have filled their spaces with houseplants. He has recently moved out of London - and a home that ELLE Decoration called one of the ten best small spaces in the world - to start a new renovation project in Somerset.
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