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Is Britain turning bland?


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According to new research homeowners are in danger of becoming ‘officially boring’ with 55% of people now choosing to live in a blandly decorated home, even though 45% acknowledge that their colour selection is lame, tame and neutral.

The study, which involved in-depth interviews with over 1,600 homeowners around Britain, demonstrates that cream and ‘off white’ are now the main schemes of more than 1 in 4 rooms in the UK, with the use of these so-called ‘non-colours’ doubling in the last ten years (cream up to 21% in 2007 from 10% in 1997), making them the most popular of any ‘colour’ used in British homes.


41% of people quizzed as part of the research commissioned by Dulux last painted their homes in cream or ‘off-white’, largely on the advice of property gurus and estate agents, although 45% of the nation claims to think these colours are ‘boring’. A paltry 4% of people believe cream or off-white reflect their true personalities.

However when asked to specify what type of colours homeowners actually liked, they were distinctly more adventurous with 38% claiming to love blue and 32% plumping for pink or red. Only 3% said they actually liked cream or off-white. This love of colour is shown to be associated with favourite childhood colours; in fact 42% claimed red and pink were their favourite colour as a child and 35% highlighted blue. What a shame that there should be such a discord between the colours people actually like and the colours they choose to paint their homes.

This lack of ‘colour’ can largely be attributed to the fact that one in ten householders claims to have decorated, solely with increasing the value of their property in mind. Estate agents and property programmes on TV often advise home owners to paint their homes shades of white and cream to ‘keep them neutral’, maximising the appeal to potential purchasers. However, the study also reveals that 86% of homeowners don’t really trust estate agents, with only 9% admitting they would let them decorate their homes.

Louise Smith, colour expert at Dulux believes that this is because the British public have had a decade of TV programmes encouraging them to keep their homes ‘neutral’ for a quick and easy sale. Brits are becoming increasingly frightened to express their own personalities through decoration and we have become a nation of subconscious home sellers … in the back of our mind we are thinking of our homes as a commodity and potential sale. We need to paint our way to a happy medium where we can enjoy personalising our homes without fear of devaluing them.

But it’s not just our homes where a distinct lack of colour is having a ‘dulling-down’ effect. When it comes to British life in general today, 46% of those quizzed described it as dreary ‘grey or black’, followed by ‘boring’ cream or beige (26%), citing the economy as the main reason (31%), followed by the weather (25%) and the British people (23%). Londoners are the most likely to describe Britain as ‘beige’ (18%), while northerners remain more optimistic, with 13% considering the country to be ‘green’.

Gordon Brown might need to think more carefully in future, when he gets dressed in the morning. When asked which colour our political leaders made them think of, 36% of people saw the Prime Minister as being ‘grey or black’ , 34% suggested brown- although we think his name may be at play here) and beige won 12% of the vote. . However the future is looking brighter for David Cameron with 24% associating him with ‘blue’ (Maggie would be proud) or ‘non-descript’ cream (24%), although his eco-friendly efforts led just 4% to consider him ‘green’.

Louise adds, “Over the past few years, the British homeowner has lost confidence in her ability to use colour in the home and resorted to using ‘off-whites’ and creams, which is clearly at odds with her true personality and preferences. It’s time we made a case for colour and stop Britain becoming bland, so Dulux pledges to focus instead on great, contemporary colours in our new ranges.”

April 2008 - Peterborough UK Community Website

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