5 mistakes homeowners make when it comes to decorating

Do you know where the natural lighting is in your home? Or how you want your living room to make you feel? These are things every homeowner taking on a makeover should know, says Jane Witter, a Dulux Colour Hero. 

If you're lucky enough to have just bought your first home, you probably can't wait to get stuck into putting your own stamp on the place.

Perusing the aisles of furniture stores, picking out a plush velvet sofa, matching your floorboards to your mirror. Decorating your own space can be the most exciting time.

But there are traps every new homeowner – and indeed anyone doing up their own pad – fall into. Sometimes you need expert advice to keep you on the right colour path.


Jane Witter, a Dulux Colour Hero, pictured below, breaks down the dos and don'ts of designing your home.

1. Don't rush in

"Don't get too excited too quickly," says Jane. "Put the plans to one side for a moment, we want to know a bit more about the house, about the direction of the room, and find out have they bought furniture.

"Understand the functions in each spaces, look at what direction the room is, what your key functional areas are, because that will influence how the colour will look, and that will enable you to be able to direct yourself towards what kind of tones and colours and hues that you bring in. From there allow the colour palette to build. Try not to go guns blazing at the start."

2. Get your key investment pieces first


"Are you going to be spending €1,000 on a new couch and haven't even decided on the colour of that yet?" If in doubt, Jane says we can always revert back to a warm neutral palette, such as 'Muslin', which comes in a 'Pure', 'Mid' and Subtle'.

"Downstairs in the living room, kitchen, hallway, you could have 'Mid Muslin', in the bedrooms you could go a little darker with 'Pure Muslin', your wardrobe can be 'Subtle Muslin'. You can bring in an accent colour or a dark neutral to make a bolder statement."


3. Choose your trio of colours from Dulux Signature Collection

"We've totally relaunched our Signature Collection in 2019 and have brought a new adventure. We have a fantastic range of grounding colours, with some on-trend dark neutrals and accent colours selected by designer Denise O'Connor," says Jane.

"We want to ensure that the colours that we're producing go hand in hand with our home. October is a good example of how grey and dreary a day in Ireland can be, so we want to make sure that the colours we have on offer are going to transfer into our lovely Irish homes."


Trends come and go, says Jane, and the Signature Collection's accent colours, like 'Russian Doll', 'Harissa' and 'Mindgame' are there for pops of colour, which you can switch up according to trends. But homeowners can always fall back on the trios of neutrals that will lay the foundations of the overall colours of their home.

4. Understand the functions of each space

"How well do you understand your natural lighting?," asks Jane. She gives the example of an 'on-trend' neutral – the colour grey – that is popular with homeowners. But not every grey will work in every space.

"People want to pick the perfect grey, but if we put a standard grey into a north-facing room, it pulls these blue hues, and leaves people pulling their hair out because they didn't know that. We can come back and create an idea for the perfect grey to fit that room.

"If you look at our Signature Collection palette, this year we have warmer greys that we refer to as 'greige' – a grey and a beige together – for that we have a 'Rye' trio, 'Pure', 'Mid' and 'Subtle'. Functional areas like your kitchen or your living room – places you're going to be in a lot that you want to feel connected to – are mainly in a north-facing direction. Let's keep that as our key target space, what we want to achieve there is warmth in most cases," says Jane.

She recommends picking out a colour trio, like 'Rye', which contains a 'Pure', 'Mid' or 'Subtle' shade. "You can choose 'Mid Rye' for your walls, 'Subtle Rye' on all of your woodwork and joineries, and if you wanted to create a bit of drama with a feature wall, we can go a little bit deeper, that's where you'd have 'Pure Rye'," says Jane.


After you've chosen your base neutrals, you can then bring in some dark neutrals, and "this is where your trends come in" says Jane. "I see our Signature Collection palette as your grounding colour palette in terms of the majority of colours, and then seasonally changing the likes of your dark neutrals and accents.

"Think about it like an outfit – invest in your key colours and then you can accessorise. You can always change your feature wall, or if you want to do something a bit braver, do something with a pop of colour."

5. Ask yourself how you want to feel in each room

"It's really important to ask yourself the question: 'What relationship do I have with my home?'," says Jane. "How well do you know your home, and how well do you know yourself in terms of what you want to achieve?

"There are a few things to consider. Lots of people will come to me and say 'I need a colour scheme' and I say 'well it's not as straightforward as that, we want know a few more things'.

"We want to pick colours that are staying. Consider any kind of furniture that you want to keep. We're making sure that everything works together.


Overall, Jane says "there's a lot of confidence there" when it comes to Irish homeowners picking colour. "But the biggest mistake tends to be just not understanding how important lighting can influence a colour. Whether it's the lighting from outside, or even inside when it comes to your lightbulbs."

Jane also advises bringing home testers from stores that stock the Dulux Signature Collection – available for just €1. "Bring it home, move it around the room, bring it into different types of light, different rooms. You and I could have the same colour in our homes but it could look a little bit different, and that's something that people don't realise," she says.

The Dulux Signature Collection is available in stores nationwide now. For colour and interiors inspiration, see here.

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