10 Beautiful Rooms: The Truth About Trends

Trends are funny things. On the one hand we are all telling ourselves not to follow them and that they don’t matter and we should buy only what we like so we will love it forever. And I utterly stick by that for the more gimmicky end of the spectrum – the flamingos, pineapples and cacti (and watch out for alpacas soon) but when it comes to colours it’s a little more invidious.

mustard kitchen by britishstandardcupboards
mustard kitchen by british standard cupboards

Logo trends – if we can all the animals and patterns that appear from nowhere and disappear as fast – are more obviously fads. But when it comes to colours the transition is so slow that our acceptance of them becomes almost subliminal. Take this mustardy shade above.

Now I’m definitely not ready for a kitchen this shade, but I adore looking at this picture. And what’s more I’ve just come from a little Sunday fashion browsing and I can tell you that this colour is all over the new collections. Now it’s a colour that does nothing for my skin tone so while I may adopt something for my lower half, I won’t be buying any tops in it. And I suspect that that is why it won’t be appearing in my house any time soon.

kitchen by plain english
kitchen by plain english

Or will it? The interior trend predictors have been talking about green for ages. So long that if you follow these things you’d think it was done. And yet I think it’s only just begun. I have just painted my bedroom green. I’m seeing more and more green kitchens. The ubiquitous navy blue kitchen may now have passed into the realms of classic rather than fashion and I think we will see fewer of them. That is to say, it will be so quietly classic that it won’t be posted as much. Like grey walls. That doesn’t mean that people won’t still be choosing it.

Grey isn’t over, it’s just that it’s so accepted as a colour that it doesn’t make news/pinterest any more. It’s the same for navy blue, which, I predict, will feature less in the magazines, not because it’s no longer fashionable but because it’s no longer newsworthy. Because the clue’s in the word: NEWsworthy.

bathroom by plain english
bathroom by plain english bath by Agape

And that is the real reason why you shouldn’t worry about trends. Because it has only 50 per cent to do with fashion and 50 per cent to do with what the magazines want to write about – which is new stuff. When my first book, Shades of Grey, came out the magazines didn’t want to cover it because they felt they had been writing about grey being the new neutral for a couple of years. Which they had. So my book didn’t feel new to them.

But in fact, grey was just hitting the mainstream wall. Which is why the media had moved on – and remember I speak as a newspaper journalist of some 25 years – I know how it works. It’s the same with navy blue. It’s no longer newsworthy because we know all about it.

kitchen by plain english
kitchen by plain english

Some of you may remember that I designed a largely navy blue collection of furniture for a couple of years ago. It took a long time to come out (it was partly derailed by my cancer treatment) and when it finally did at Christmas 2016 I feared it would bomb because navy was over.

Well I’ve just had my biggest royalty cheque to date for the navy blue chair. Now let’s not get carried away – it’s about 20 chairs, which in a company of that size, isn’t many, but it makes the point – at the time at which the magazines are moving away is when they sense that everyone is on board so they leave. Journalism is contrary like that.

the rectory by clare menary
the rectory by clare menary

And so it is for the mustard/turmeric/saffron shades that are all over the catwalks at the moment. And where the catwalk starts the cushions will follow.

I took this picture below when I went to visit Love Your Home a few weeks ago. In among the deep blues and greens was this mustard cushion adding a splash of brightness.

love your home showroom image by
love your home showroom image by

And here is a picture I took at the Next preview collection. Grey is still strong but this picture is all about the throw. And on the other side of that folding door was a sofa to match.

So this is why you should ignore trends. Because it’s about seeing a colour so much that it becomes normal and acceptable. At which point you start to look at it more favourably than you would ever have imagined. And so you are brainwashed into liking it. And buying it. At which point the media moves on. And you worry that you have missed the trend. But you haven’t. You are just getting round to thinking about some new colours.

a/w18 at next official image by
a/w18 at next official image by

And don’t forget that some will work for you and some won’t. Because some you will like and some you won’t. And that is the key point to never forget. Don’t buy a colour just because you see it everywhere but because you love it.

And as a case in point I have a sofa in that mustard yellow which came from my mother’s house and I’m about to recover it. Because, as I said at the top – I love looking at pictures of it but it’s not working in my house. At the moment. Come back in two years and I might be about to recover it back again as it were.

the line hotel LA image by
the line hotel LA image by

Take the so-called millennial pink which began as a trend but it’s not going anywhere despite magazines and commenters pretending to yawn when they see it. This Devol pantry is painted in their version of it although it looks more cream here. In real life it’s quite pink. And it’s the next classic. But the media are moving on – in favour of Gen Z yellow as they are trying to call it.

It just means that they are bored with writing about pink and want something new to say.

the devol showroom image by
the devol showroom image by

This is one of the kitchens in the same showroom – it’s a sort of blue green. Still coming, still new enough to write about and not be on everyone’s walls. It’s a very similar colour to the wall of the Love Your Home showroom and The Rectory Hotel above. It’s on the radar but it’s not quite here yet.

See what I mean? Pick what you like and stick to it. That’s the only trend that matters. Yours.

the devol showroom image by
the devol showroom image by
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Hi Kate, I have inherited a lime green Smeg and a racing green Aga both of which I love but feel very conflicting in their decor styles. What colour would you paint the kitchen cupboards/ walls to tie them together?

    1. How about a really soft pale pink/mushroom colour. That is a great neutral and would go with both shades of green. Green and pink is a lovely combination and would look like you made a real decision rather than just picking a white because you knew it wouldn’t fight them. When you have two such strong statements in the room you have to keep that going and be bold rather than backing down in the face of them and picking a pale safe colour. Dowsing and Reynolds have a pink called Get Plastered and Rockett St George have Broderie and Bohemia – look at the colours in the photograph rather than the squares of colour. I think that could look amazing.

  2. Hi Kate. What a great post. I have actually purchased mustard and navy cushions to put on the brown leather sofa. I was hesitant as it might go off trend but thought what the heck. It looked nice. LOL.

  3. I just paint my house in colours I love, so I have a coral pink lounge, a lemon yellow bathroom, a turquoise blue kitchen, a terracotta bedroom and a greeny turquoisish hall. I love bright colours and could never ever imagine having grey walls! but then that’s just me and I really don’t think I am normal!! I’m the same with fashion though – wear what I like and what I think suits me rather than what the magazines tell me is in fashion. Each to their own – no right or wrong in my opinion.

  4. Once again I’m ahead of a trend lol. I have had mustard and grey cushions in my living room for 4 years now. Looks great with all the yellow metallics I have. Also worked its way into the conservatory with my Navy Blue furniture. 15 years now! Who know I set the trends!!! Wait long enough and they always catch up.

  5. I’ve fallen down something of an interiors rabbithole on the Rectory website.. gorgeous!

    Love your blog and wondering if you (or anyone in the comments) might have suggestions for a dining table to go with classic Thonet bentwood chairs? The table will sit in a large Victorian bay window at the far end of my lounge. At the moment I’m leaning towards an oval tulip-style table with marble top but unsure if that would look odd sitting on greyish carpet (which can’t be changed). I also love the C2B Silverado and Paradigm but shipping from the US is not cheap! Budget is roughly £1k..

    Thanks in advance!


  6. Hi Kate. Great blog post and so timely – I’m just looking at dark green / blue / grey for our hallway. Any idea on a good colour match for that last devol kitchen? I can find a fair few pics of rooms I like but no paint colour recommendations. I was wondering about Farrow & Ball Green Smoke?

  7. Hi Kate,
    You are so right about colours and how personal they are to each of us. I love the mustard colour of the Plain English cabinets so much I used something very similar on the walls of my kitchen! It is north facing so quite dark with low beams and the colour just sings in there, it makes me happy every time I walk in. However, I also painted my cabinets dark green proving your point about the influence social media and journalism in general has on our interior choices, until it started to appear regularly on my Insta feed it was never a colour I had considered – now Im afraid Im slightly obsessed! Great post as always.

  8. I only use yellow, curry and mustard shades in my food. Those colours are banned from my wardrobe, house and garden.

  9. Another quality, well thought out piece – exactly what makes your blog so distinctive and keeps us all coming back for more. Well done, Kate.

    Talking of ignoring trends in favour of things you’ll love forever. I received a Loaf catalogue through the post recently, and splashed across almost every page was the tagline “stuff you’ll want to keep for yonks”. I thought to myself – is that so rare now that it’s forming the basis if a whole advertising campaign? The fact you’ll want to keep it more than a couple of seasons? When we are talking about furniture that costs in the high hundreds to thousands of pounds, I would have hoped I could take that for granted.

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