Do you know what prompted my move to the dark side? I painted out just one alcove in grey about 8 years ago, and that was it. That was my conversion! I’ve since produced my own paint range and embraced a whole palette of inky, sludgy or berry hues. But it was greys that started it all, and I still have such a soft spot for them.
Greys aren’t just a passing phase, they’re the go-to neutral. It’s so versatile that it can work for any style, anywhere. I fell in love with greys really quickly – maybe too quickly too be honest because we ended up repainting the house top to bottom in three weeks. We had a crazy schedule because Elle Decoration were coming to shoot, and I wanted the whole pad dark for the shoot. Not the best for stress levels maybe, but the best interiors move I ever made. I’ve never looked back. That colour was Farrow & Ball’s Downpipe, and I’ve reliably heard since that their sales rocketed! It’s still one of their bestsellers I think. This was my introduction to bold, smoky hue.
I think you’ll start with a dark grey or even a soft midtone and just go darker and darker. This is the perfect introductory colour if you like the idea of dark hues but don’t know how it’ll actually work in your pad. It’s funny the effect dark colours have on people. They’re so phenomenally life changing (no exaggeration!) but when you suggest it to people there are often sharp intakes of breath and comments like “Wouldn’t it feel too depressing” or even worse “dingy”. But I think once people get past this and are brave enough to take the plunge, it’s pretty inevitable that you’ll go darker and darker. I certainly did. When I developed my own paint range I repainted the whole house in our new colours – it’s the darkest I’ve ever gone and I absolutely love it. My home studio is full on noir black now!
Madison is my perfect grey. It’s the most beautiful sludgy, bottom-of-the-lake hue with undertones of green, which shifts throughout the day with the changing light. It’s my all-time favourite colour in our paint range – I painted my whole ground floor and our Islington store in it!
A word of advice – get the best paint you can afford for this. A very flat grey can look quite depressing, so always make sure it has rich undertones and choose paint made from natural pigments. I can’t rave about these pigments enough, as they’re what give the beautiful nuances of colours and always make a hue that’s more intriguing to the eye.