Decorating with Colour: The Best Shades for Every Situation


Every colour serves a purpose and knowing the different atmospheres certain shades can create, helps decorators optimise spaces for their intended use. Creative Director at Dulux, Marianne Shillingford, explains how different hues can be used throughout homes and public spaces – including the Colour of the Year 2023 – and how to integrate current colour and design trends to achieve stunning finishes. 

Decorators play an important role in creating a sanctuary for clients. Whether they’re designing a bedroom that inspires a sense of calm, or an office space that encourages productivity – colour is a huge factor in creating ambiance. To effectively advise customers on the best hues to use, decorators need to be confident in explaining why colours work in certain spaces and what they represent, to ensure they are creating the most effective space for their clients’ needs. 

Being in-the-know about current colour trends also helps decorators predict what will be popular with their clients and pre-empt their requests with beautiful design suggestions that will set them apart and drive-up customer satisfaction, positive word of mouth and increased business. 

A space to reconnect with nature 

To effectively advise on the right colours to use, decorators need to consider how a room will be used. For example, after a long day at work, many homeowners will crave a space where they can fully relax and unwind. This means that the colours chosen for areas like living rooms and bedrooms are crucial if they are to instil feelings of tranquility – and opting for hues that are reflective of nature will help to inspire this mood. 

In fact, colours inspired by the great outdoors have been the focus of Dulux global trend forecasting for many years. Since 2013 the natural world has been the major source of inspiration and the Colour of the Year 2023 captures the theme perfectly. Wild WonderTM is a beautiful soft gold with hints of green, inspired by fresh seed pods and almost ripe harvest grain. It captures the essence of wonder and possibilities the natural world has to offer as we turn to nature for the solutions we need to live more sustainably in the future. Post-pandemic, we value nature more highly than ever and look to live in harmony with it rather than seeing it as an endless resource. More than anything, Wild WonderTM is a highly versatile colour that enhances the sustainable and eco-friendly materials we currently see becoming mainstream in architecture and design. 

With nature-inspired shades set to be a big trend in the coming year, decorators can have confidence in colours like Wild Wonder TM is also accompanied by four versatile colour palettes of complementary shades that can be used together, making it easy for decorators to create stunning designs that their customers will love.

  • Lush – combines a range of beautiful forest hues that are inspired by the plant-filled habitats of gardens and woodlands
  • Buzz – features upbeat tones of pinks and ochres that capture the bustling biodiversity of a wildflower field or grassland 
  • Raw – brings together harvest shades that mimic nature’s raw materials
  • Flow – marries warm neutrals and deeper seashore tones that bring a sense of fluidity and momentum

Wild WonderTM can also be used to create the latest interior design techniques. For example, utilising the ‘colour drench’ trend – which sees one hue painted across all surfaces – with Wild WonderTM in one section of a room helps zone this area as a space for calm. This is perfect for customers looking to section off living rooms and bedrooms as a place to chill, or a peaceful area to work.

It’s all an illusion

As well as providing a space with a certain atmosphere, some shades can also be used to create visual illusions – for example, making a room feel bigger or warmer. 

Receding colours are the best option for opening up a space. These are colours that appear to be further away from the viewer while being on the same surface as others, and include greens, blues and violets – as seen prominently within the Lush and Flow palettes. As these appear further from the eye, these tend to make a room feel bigger, so are the perfect choice for smaller rooms. There has been an upsurge in decorators painting the ceiling in these receding shades – particularly blues like Bright Skies which features in the Flow palette – to make rooms appear roofless and opened to the sky. 

Decorators refurbishing a north-facing room should consider how the wall paint can warm up the space. Yellows work well in north-facing bedrooms for those that need a little extra energising in the mornings, while pinks have the same warming effect by retaining a calm feel. Combining these tones with cool neutral shades like greys can help to balance out the room’s colour temperature. For clients that are persistent in wanting neutrals, off-whites with a hint of magnolia offer a sun-kissed warmth while still providing a blank canvas ready for décor. 

A dose of dopamine 

Over the past few years, our homes have transformed into much more than just ‘where we live’ – they have become our sanctuaries, our safe places and a real reflection of our personalities. One way this has been reflected is through the ‘dopamine decorating’ trend, which sees the colours that make homeowners happy, splashed on our walls.

In-keeping with this trend, sorbet-like floral hues are prevalent within the Colour of the Year 2023 Buzz palette, with the sweet pink  Rocksalt Rose and rich orange Manuka Honey being perfect mood-lifting shades to inject into the home, with both bringing colour into  a space in a tasteful way. 

When suggesting more colourful  shades, decorators should be prepared to know how and where they should be used in the home. Brights can give a boost of energy and help people to feel raring to go, so are effective in bathrooms where customers have their morning shower, or children’s playrooms to reflect their excitable side.

For customers looking to be even more creative, decorators can incorporate these hues into simple murals, which have become increasingly popular. They can be integrated into masking tape techniques to create stripes, bands, arches and checks which are all very on-trend decorating techniques at the moment.

For more colour and design tips, visit or for more information on the Colour of the Year 2023, visit




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