This has been a troubled year beset by uncertainty and change, so perhaps it’s no surprise Dulux’s Colour of the Year for 2021 is a warm, comforting clay brown.
The brand has selected ‘Brave Ground’ (its name makes it sound more punchy than it looks) as 2021’s key hue – but while it may seem a safe choice, its beauty and appeal lies in the fact that, rather like a chameleon, this is a colour that can adapt to many different settings and palettes and allow them all to shine.
“It’s not a shade that has to hit you between the eyes, rather it’s got this deep, soft, chocolatey feel,” enthuses Marianne Shillingford, creative director at Dulux UK. “I think of it as a colour that almost puts an arm around your shoulder and comforts and reassures.”
The panel of experts who picked Brave Ground believe it “will enable people to draw upon the strength of nature, to help them find the courage to embrace the future”.
Certainly, it’s a world away from 2020’s soft green Tranquil Dawn, but it is in line with the growing trend for turning away from cooler tones and greys, and back to more nurturing, subtle tones that conjure cosseting, nurturing spaces.
What is Brave Ground about?
“Brave Ground is a warm, organic, versatile neutral that I’d describe as the ‘Mother Earth’ of colours,” says Shillingford. “It won’t step into the limelight because it’s the perfect ‘support act’. Instead of overpowering, it works with different palettes by holding everything together and letting other colours shine.
“Brave Ground is earthy and empowering, it evokes stability, growth, and will help create peaceful spaces where we feel anchored and grounded,” Shillingford adds.
Why did you decide on Brave Ground?
“The colours on our walls are the backdrop to how we live our life. For many of us, lockdown has served to emphasise how important our home environment has become,” explains Shillingford, who says the shade was chosen before the coronavirus pandemic, but didn’t change as a result of it. “It’s been the place where we work, learn, relax. It can lift us up, nurture us, comfort us.
“We continue to live through uncertain times. In 2021, the warm and grounding tones of Brave Ground will allow us to find certainty in the strength from the very ground beneath our feet, emboldening us to go forward and begin to live again, and giving us the flex to adapt to the ever changing circumstances we face.”
Ready to step forward onto a new decor path? Here, Shillingford shows four ways to work Brave Ground into your home and transform your rooms for 2021…
1. Earth palette
“These authentic grounding colours echo the tones of the land, sea and sky, so it’s a combination of the earthy neutral and very pale, calming blues, and deep impactful blues.
“Here, Brave Ground acts an accent colour, working with all the blues. One combination is to have Brave Ground on walls and a pale blue on the ceiling, which could lift and transform a room. Alternatively, pick blues for accessories, while leaving the rest of the room neutral.”
Who will it suit?
“Those who long to connect with nature and the outside world and bring it into their home. Those who want smaller spaces to appear larger could use blue and green, which are receding colours that visually appear to be farther away from us than other colours lying on the same level.”
Where to use it: Living rooms, studies and home offices, and for creating the atmosphere of an outdoor room.
2. Expressive palette
“This is a fantastic combination of gorgeous, sexy hot-pinks, soft, delicate petal-pinks and reds. Together, or individually, they’ll add an energy shot of colour, which is unashamedly self-indulgent and joyful.
“Here, Brave Ground acts like a mother or a grown-up you’ve invited on your hen party; she keeps things from getting really carried away, and grounds the whole in a beautiful subtle way.”
Who will it suit?
“People who want to say, ‘This is me, this is who I am’, and create individual spaces, which demonstrate their self-expression and creativity.
“You can go full-on maximalist or simply experiment with injections of pink, just as you’d lift a neutral outfit with punch-pink lipstick, shoes or a handbag. I’ve used this palette for my office and it’s ideal for a setting where you want to express yourself and reflect who you are.”
Where to use it: Personal spaces – a bedroom, office or creative space.
3. Timeless palette
“Inspiring shades of red, orange and yellow ochres, which have been used since time began,” is how Shillingford describes this palette.
“Used alongside soft neutrals, these tones are energizing without being overpowering. They bring positivity and balance to any space.”
Who will it suit?
“Those who have eclectic homes, who love to blend styles from different eras. They may have inherited pieces mixed with mid-century modern furniture of their own. They want to make the best of the past, but keep their look relevant to the future.”
Where to use it: A dining room or a zone for reading and relaxing.
4. Trust palette
“This palette comprises the world’s favourite neutrals – they’re the colours of stone, soil, clay and sand. Warm natural greys and browns, these colours complement each other. This is a group of shades which are familiar, soothing, and speak of effortless style.
“Each can be used in delicious layers across the walls in paint, but also across the furniture and furnishings. Paint a deep, dark layer at the bottom of a wall, like a horizon line, to create a beautiful sense of peace and calm.”
Who will it suit?
“This will appeal to those who love to surround themselves with organic, natural materials, such as wood and wicker, linens and wool. It will help conjure a harmonious, comfortable space that’s perfect for day-to-day living and entertaining. This blend of shades will cosset and comfort but won’t distract.”
Where to use it: Living rooms and bedrooms, where you can really think and dream.
Break into Brave Ground
If you’re not ready for a full revamp, there’s no need to miss out on the hottest colour on the block. Bring your room up-to-date with some Brave Ground-hued furniture and accessories…