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  • Writer's pictureGranny Bonnet

In Praise of Magnolia

'OK, yes. I can already hear the groans! Magnolia? Any colour but Magnolia!' But why are so many people against it? Certainly it has become very fashionable to disparage this soft, neutral colour.

'Boring!' You may cry.

'Gentle on the eye' I will respond.

It is a gentle colour that is muted, warm and diffuse. One that does not follow designer dictates for grey, grey, grey, almond or dare I say it before I puke, mauve.

Granted, there is a place for colours and I love them. It was very hard for hubby and me to break the tradition of our kitchen being painted a beautiful glowing coral. We swapped it recently after about twenty years for a shade of dusky Georgian green. Gorgeous it is but in a different way. Magnolia here was not an option despite the fact that it would have added light to the room. Facing north as it does and hemmed in by foliage, the room is always dark and requires lights on, even in summer. Colour here adds a bold cheerful statement about an otherwise gloomy space.

White then you may suggest, but I am of the opinion that white is a total cop-out. Often a quick-fix decorating solution for those nervous of making a mistake. OK for student residences and such where a quick unchanging lick-over is required on a regular basis. Besides, whilst white is uplifting by day it tends towards dull grey areas of shadow in half-light.

One of the problems I know is what actually constitutes 'Magnolia' (since none of the shades I have seen remotely resembles any actual flowers). Different brands offer subtly different hues. It is after all, only a named version of warm-toned white. The same thing happened when we shopped for a light colour suitable for our small study. We fancied cream. Selection however was not straight-forward. We ran the gamut of String, Linen, Wheat, Old Cream, Safari Map, Cord, etc., etc. Sadly our choice was short-lived once on the walls. In changing light it displayed a nasty greenish caste, was renamed Snot and quickly over-painted!

Perhaps it's off-putting that 'new build' houses seem often to be unified throughout by Magnolia in an effort to make them seem larger. Also it's an easy colour to change should you wish your dining room walls to be purple or black. It is not generally the builders' remit to personalise each individual property after all. A safe option is always Magnolia.

Granted, there's also an upside to sticking with uncomplicated neutrals. I am reminded of an old friend's horrible ginger-coloured bathroom suite with its surrounding orange tiles. Very up-to-the-minute in about 1978. Too expensive for her to replace since. And how many avocado bathrooms are still in existence I wonder? We too in a previous house suffered 'colour-kill' when we inherited a royal-blue bathroom suite. It had to go!

So, don't be led into following modish colour-schemes if you really enjoy the calm of neutrals. Paint manufacturers will always encourage us to be adventurous with colour. They have to. Instead, dare to be different by being honest. Sing out in praise of magnificent Magnolia!

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