Dulux Colour of the Year 2018

Well you weren’t expecting THIS were you? Last year we were all aghast when the 2017 colour of the year was Denim Drift. We had been expecting green. So we all knew it would be green this year. Except it isn’t.

Nor is it, as you might have been forgiven for thinking from looking at this picture (which I put first as a red/pink? herring) a version of blush or millennial pink. Look again. It’s the other one. It’s called Heartwood and it’s a sort of heathery/mauve shade.

Now before you start jumping up and down and shrieking, I’m going to say that last year it was blue and we were all shocked, but it’s fair to say we have been seeing a lot more blue – specifically navy and teal – coming through and the Denim Drift was chosen as the colour of the prevailing mood rather than the one we are actually going to be splashing all over the walls. You can have a look at Dulux Colour of the Year 2017 here and see what you think with a year’s distance.

In addition to that, this colour is part of a large palette of new colours, all of which you see in various forms below. Yes there is green and yes there is blue. And actually, as is often the case with these announcements, it’s not so much WHAT the colour is as WHY the colour is. And that, I think, is interesting.

This colour has been chosen as the colour that reflects the national (global?) mood and in 2018 that mood is one of uncertainty and unpredictability. A world, as creative director Marianne Shillingford said, where we don’t know what the news will bring us from day to day. A world with access to more information and choices than ever before but a world that is more divided than ever before.

Against this background our homes become ever more important. Marianne said yesterday that she had prepared a talk to launch this colour but as she was writing it, someone had come into the office having fallen off his bike. “Do you want to go to A&E? she asked him. No came the reply. “I just want to go home.”

And that’s what this colour and this palette is all about. More than ever our homes need to be places where we can shut the door and tune out the outside noise. A place where we can turn down the volume and retreat to our sanctuary. In short – A Welcome Home, as Marianne put it.

Regular visitors to The Mad House will agree that that’s what we’ve been banging on about over here for years and it’s completely true but now we have the paint the match.

The palette has been divided into three areas all centred around the home – inviting, comforting and playful. Heartwood, which represents the whole spectrum, is a reflection of the warm woods that we are seeing more of. Have you noticed a lot more walnut coming through in stores suddenly for example?

Wood is regarded as a comforting material – it’s welcoming and cosy. If you don’t necessarily think of that when you think of wood then contrast it with stainless steel and its cold, hard feel. That’s the feeling we’re supposed to be getting.

This sense of comfort is very much based around tactility – wood and leather and the warm metals like brass and gold which have been around for a while and show no sense of disappearing. It’s about creating a space you want to sink into. We’re back to the idea of home as haven if you like.

You might be surprised to see blue in this palette as so many of us find blue a cold colour but it is, in fact, in survey after survey, the world’s favourite colour. It is, above all, calm and tranquil, which is what we are seeking right now.

Actually, more worryingly, as these are the colours for next year, it appears that that is what we will be seeking next year so for anyone who was hoping things were going to get better it seems that Dulux doesn’t quite share that optimism. But that may be to really read too much into it. Hell, it’s a pretty shade of blue.

But to come back to the thinking behind it, it’s about the idea of how your home makes you feel and we’re going to come back to this in more detail in tomorrow’s post. Earlier this year I attended a workshop on colour run by Sophie Robinson (yes her off the telly) all about the psychology of colour and the key message was that it’s about decorating your home around how you want to feel when you are in it and not just because it’s a colour that’s fashionable or on trend.

And that is what Dulux would say about the colour of the year – that it reflects how we are feeling and reacting to the world and that is why it was chosen. I find colour psychology endlessly fascinating so do drop in tomorrow if you want to know a little more. And even if you don’t it will definitely give you food for thought.

Here’s a final look at Heartwood which will look completely different on everyone’s computers so it’s hard to judge but what do you think? There are lots of lovely greens with names like artichoke and gooseberry and pine needle as well as gorgeous deep inky blue called cobalt night and another called Sapphire Salute. As well as lots of blush pinks and not forgetting Tempered Chocolate and Drifting Cloud.

What do you think? Coming to a wall near you? Why don’t you comment on that below today and make a note to come back in a year and see what you think then?


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. That is a gorgeous colour and not disimilar in tone and feel to what I am contemplating for the lounge at the moment. (Hellebore by Little Greene)

  2. I’m with Karen, and lots and lots of grey in every shade – I personally find it to be a very calming and reassuring color and blue a bit depressing aside from perhaps a bright turquoise sky blue. Our first home which we purchased in 1992 was built and probably painted in the early 80’s by the first owner in a colour not unlike the mauve-pink (probably called dusty rose) shown here and we lived with it for 9 years before we finally moved because although we hated it we couldn’t agree on what to change it to….plus it is an easy colour to live in and ignore. I’m not sure I can see it catching on though – I found it very gloomy even in a western exposure on a bright sunny day.

  3. Those colours look amazing but I think is will be difficult for most of the people to obtain the same effect at home by themselves. Such colour combination usually requires a professional. BUt the pictures are amazing and the color combinations very brave.

    1. Not sure if you’ll see this as I’m behind on my Mad posts. Have a look at “Erica” by Paint & Paper Library, and “Eiderdown” by Eartborn. I particularly love the latter, which I’m going to use in my dark attic bedroom as (whisper it – sooo 2012) a single short wall behind my bed.

  4. Love these colours! Coincidentally I read your blog and then a local news item which announced that yesterday Dulux opened a £100m plant in Northumberland, capable of doubling current UK production levels to 200 million litres per year, the equivalent of 80 million 2.5 litre cans of Dulux, in up to 33,000 different colours!!!! Apparently enough paint to redecorate every living room, bathroom and kitchen in the UK. So perhaps they are optimistic about our continued pessimism :-).

  5. Great article Kate and I love all tbe colour combos you have shown here. I love the use of an accent colour to create a stripe along the top/bottom of some of the walls. I’m a bit of a white walls and jazz the place up with a seasonal pop of colour using soft furnishings, but I think it’s time for a rethink and this has given me some great ideas.


  6. Heartwood, where have you been all my life? For those of us not brave enough to go for dark walls this is perfect; subtle, unusual and versatile. Reckon it could be around for a while.

  7. Heartwood – very interesting. Not sure that painting this colour throughout the house would calm and comfort me though, but I’m a tough old bird. And would it go with grey? Mind you it would work well with ‘dark’ wood furniture and heather-coloured tartan cushions and pops of copper – so autumnal and reassuring, but so seasonally predictable.

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