50 SHADES OF...

CHOOSING THE RIGHT PAINT COLOUR

Grey, blue, white, pink, red...you've bought your first house and the prospect of being able to paint the walls any colour of your choice is unbelievably exciting. Trust me, after five years of renting some beautiful properties coated, and I mean coated, in the ever so popular shade of magnolia having a blank canvas to adorn was something I was very much looking forward too.

I knew I wanted bright, light, white walls with the injection of blush pink, cool greys and deep blues, easy right? Wrong! I wasn't so naive that I thought there was one shade per colour but the abundance of options is enough to make you question everything. Did we want Swedish White...Ash White...Rocksalt...Alpine...the list of whites on offer was endless, each with a different undertone, did we want a cool white, warm, ashy, cream. Spoiler...we chose Swedish White that actually didn't turn out quite right.

After adorning our walls with five or six shades of white we chose Swedish White, a bright white with blue/grey undertones, and quickly realised that it looked completely different in different rooms. Towards the front of the house (which happens to be north facing) it looks like a light duck egg blue, towards the back (south facing) it is a gorgeous soft white with a hint of grey. Notice the adjective? Swedish White is exactly what we wanted in the back end of our home and not so much in the front. This led me to do many searches on choosing the right paint colours so that we didn't make the same mistake with the rest of our colour choices. I thought I would share what I learnt in the hopes that I will help at least one person out there!


The advice that anyone and everyone will give you when painting a room is; "try a couple of different colours on different walls in the room and take note of how it appears at different times of the day as the lighting changes." This advice is golden and I of course followed is but sometimes there are THAT many options and at £4 a pot it's difficult to even narrow the shades down to a couple and if, like you me you do this, get them all home and find that none of them work, it becomes very expensive!

It all comes down to lighting (duh!) and the direction that your house faces drastically alters the lighting that you have in your house which in turn alters how paint colours appear in different rooms. The best bit of advice I can give you, is, to get your hands on a compass (app) and find out which direction your house is facing. Once I had done this choosing paint colours got a whole lot easier. Below are some tips that I gained from Farrow & Ball, Dulux and the odd ever so helpful store employee.

NORTH FACING

A North facing house (which happens to be the direction that my house is facing) is the hardest to decorate as the lighting can be quite dark and cool. Hence why colours with a blue undertone appear bluer than the actual colour you have bought. If you want to use lighter colours stay away from any with a green or grey undertone. Stick to colours with a yellow base and cream neutrals to bounce a lot of light around.

Alternatively embrace the natural dark of the room and choose a strong dark grey or blue to create a striking effect.

EAST FACING

The lighting in east facing rooms can tend to be a little blue, work with this and choose green or blue colours, light or dark, either will work wonders.

SOUTH FACING

If your house is south facing, breathe a big sigh of relief, it will be an absolute joy to decorate as the quality of light means that any colour will work. Cool, warm whichever route you want to take it will look good and appear just as you expect.

WEST FACING

When it comes to west facing rooms it is helpful to think about how you will use the room as they tend to have cooler light in the mornings working up to a warmer more dramatic lighting in the evenings. Farrow & Ball suggest using whites as they are natural light reflectors, will work with any colour furnishing and will naturally enhance both the natural and artificial lighting in a west facing room.

Whilst I won't be changing my chosen Swedish White anytime soon, I have taken all of the above into consideration for the rooms that still need painting and when I come round to redecorating I will be prepared! It's our first time renovating and decorating a house, from top to bottom I might add, we are bound to make a few mistakes along the way, at least I can share these mistakes and hopefully help you from making them too!

GINGERBREAD CUPCAKE RECIPE

I first baked these beauties around Christmas time last year and they have become somewhat of a signature bake. A warming gingerbread spiced cupcake with an oh so sweet (and salty) salted caramel frosting. They are, quite simply, delicious and much like a Starbuck's pumpkin spiced latte they taste and smell just like autumn/Christmas.

September to December is my favourite time of year, I love everything about it. The cool, crisp days, the chunky knits and ankle boots, long walks with a Sunday roast in front of the fire, Halloween, Bonfire Night, getting cosy on the sofa with winter telly, decadent eating and of course Christmas! After a mediocre summer here in England I am very much looking forward to 'hunkering down for the winter' and the first treat I wanted to share with you are these autumn in a cupcake case cupcakes.

INGREDIENTS

200g golden caster sugar
140g unsalted butter
60g black treacle
60g golden syrup
2 large eggs
300g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
240ml milk, warmed through

FOR THE SALTED CARAMEL FROSTING

125g caster sugar
80ml double cream
1/2 tsp rock salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
160g salted butter, softened

METHOD

  1. Line a muffin tray with 12 cupcake cases and preheat the oven to 190C.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Add the treacle, syrup and eggs then beat well until fully combined.
  3. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder and salt. Warm the milk in a saucepan, be careful not to burn, then add half the flour mixture and half the warmed milk to the butter mixture and beat. Add the remaining flour mixture and milk and beat well until combined and smooth.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases and bake for 20-25 minutes or until well risen and lightly firm to the touch. Allow to cool for five minutes in the tray and then set aside to cool on a wire rack.
  5. Whilst the cupcakes are cooling make the salted caramel buttercream. To make the salted caramel from scratch; heat the caster sugar and four tablespoons of water in a saucepan over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat and cook the caramel for 2-3 minutes, or until golden and slightly thickened. Once this has been achieved remove from the heat immediately and stir in the cream (be careful as the caramel may splutter when the cream is added). Stir in the salt and vanilla and set aside to cool completely.
  6. Beat the butter until it is white and fluffy, and then add half the icing sugar and beat well until combined. Add the remaining icing sugar; beat on a high speed for 4-5 minutes until thick and fluffy. Then add the caramel and beat until combined. 
  7. Pipe onto the cakes and decorate.
I found these little gingerbread men in Marks & Spencer but you could always make your own, which I will be doing around Christmas time, or simply sprinkle the cupcakes with a little ginger. I will be making these again over the next few months and I hope you will too!

© LIZ NOTES

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