Ruth Mottershead, Creative Director at The Little Greene Paint Company is the vision behind the beautiful colours and patterns created by this family business. We spoke with Ruth about what makes their eco-friendly paints and wallpapers so special and to ask her advice of how best to use colour in the home....
Beautiful - Quality - Eco-friendly
Little Greene is a family business, what’s it like working with your family?
I really enjoy working alongside my family and I feel I’m very lucky to do so. We are a close family and we are all very passionate about Little Greene so working together to build a business we love is a dream. Of course, as in any family business we don’t always agree, but we always try to think about the best course of action for Little Greene and in doing so we come to a resolution.
What makes Little Greene paints eco-friendly?
All of our water-based paints carry the industry's lowest eco-rating, which means our VOC content is almost zero. (VOC stands for ‘volatile organic compounds’ which are compounds that can easily become vapours or gases that can be harmful to our environment.) Our oil based paints are formulated using naturally occurring vegetable oils and the paper used in our wallpaper comes from FSC and PEFC certified sustainable forests.
In addition, our paint tins are made using over 50% recycled steel and can be recycled again, and all our paperwork is printed on recycled or sustainably sourced paper.
We have always been totally committed to the ongoing well-being and protection of the world environment and in 2004 we were one of the first UK paint manufacturers to achieve the European environmental standard. Even our Head Office in Manchester is powered by photovoltaic cells on the roof and it has a wildflower meadow at the rear to encourage wildlife.
What’s your best tip for introducing colour to a home?
An easy way to introduce colour into your home is to add an accent or highlight colour into a neutral scheme. For example, if your walls and woodwork are already painted in a soft combination of ‘Slaked Lime’ colours, you could paint a chest of drawers in a contrasting accent shade such as ‘Citrine’ for a pop of personality or perhaps ‘Livid’ for something deeper and moodier.
Photo credit: Little Greene Intelligent Paints - Far Wall: Livid No 263 / Right Wall - French Grey No 163 / Trim - French Grey Pale No 161
Another easy way to do this is to choose a neutral scheme and layer up the room with colourful soft furnishings and accessories. Something like our ‘French Grey’ family is ideal for this, as it is a well-balanced grey that can be paired with most colours with ease. Blues, Greens and Pinks all combine well with the French Grey family.
What colours would you recommend for a dark room?
It completely depends on what kind of look you want to create. If you want to brighten the room, it’s no surprise that a light white will help to achieve this. Something with a little warmth like Portland Stone Pale or Clay Pale are ideal choices. But don’t be afraid to choose a mid-strength or even a dark colour (some spaces won’t ever be light and bright). If you’re brave enough, why not take the opportunity to make a bold statement and embrace it! Dark spaces can be cosy, intimate and dramatic.
Photo credit: Little Greene Basalt - No 221
If it’s a small space such as a downstairs toilet or a utility room, why not experiment with a bold wallpaper to bring a sense of style and personality to a practical space.
What are the biggest mistakes people make when choosing colour for a room?
I don’t think you can make a mistake when choosing colours, if you love it that’s all that matters! But I would always recommend ordering a sample pot before making your final purchase to avoid any potential colour mishaps. Colours that appear on your screen will always look different in person and it will vary depending on the device and screen resolution. Ordering a sample pot will eliminate any concerns you may have.
I’d also recommend painting out a piece of card and placing it around the room and viewing it at varying times throughout the day, you’ll be surprised how this can alter how the colour reads.
What colours would most complement the rustic qualities of the reclaimed wood furniture?
If you’re looking to create an industrial or Scandinavian feel, cool grey and white tones will allow the pieces to really shine as the focal point in your scheme. The natural tones in reclaimed wood are warm, which means you can afford to choose cooler colours on the walls and the space won’t feel too stark or clinical. Something like Urbane Grey, Inox and Shallows is a good place to start.
Photo credit: Little Green Hicks' Blue - No 208
Should you want to create a more intimate atmosphere, perhaps for a dining room scheme, the teak tones in the wood would also look fabulous against blues and greens. Try ‘Hicks’ Blue’ or ‘Royal Navy’ for a rich blue backdrop or bold green ‘Hopper’ and our mid-strength ‘Boringdon Green’ to create a scheme that feels in touch with the natural world.
Photo credit: Wall - Little Greene Intelligent Paint Boringdon Green No 295
What colours are we going to be using in our homes in this Autumn/Winter 2020/21
Green is still really popular for us. Earthy, muted tones such as ‘'Ambleside' are perfect for creating calm in the bedroom whilst the bold brightness of 'Sage & Onions' creates energy and vibrancy in a lively kitchen.
Photo credit: Little Greene National Trust Colourcard - Walls: Sage & Onions No 288 / Dado rail: Tea with Florence No 310
We predict the use of warmer neutrals and a slight shift away from the cooler grey tones to take place. Natural stone colours such as ‘Portland Stone,’ ‘Clay’ and ‘Bath Stone’ are expected to be popular. Warm neutrals are perfect for creating restful living spaces that bring comfort to the home.
What's your favourite Little Greene colour and why?
Air Force Blue is one of my absolute favourites and it would look particularly striking with the majority of your Standford Reclaimed Wood range!
Historically, Air Force Blue is in fact a generic term for a multitude of shades, mixed by individual squadrons. This version is deeper and richer than some; even more so when used on all the walls of a room.
Photo credit: Little Greene Air Force Blue - No 260
All photos Little Greene Paint Company