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  • Writer's pictureDr Sacha DeVelle

Neutral Paints and Undertones

Updated: Jan 19, 2023

What kind of decisions need to be made when painting a long, concrete corridor that is used as a major residential thoroughfare? We played an advisory role on this residential walkway project, read on for the details.

Cool Greys and Undertones

The wall colour chosen for the corridor was Dulux ‘Highgate’. This subtle cool grey has a slightly greenish undertone - designed to create a calming atmosphere and a receding visual effect. Put simply, cool colours (think green and blue) perceptually allow a small space to feel larger. This is exactly what we want to feel when walking down a long narrow corridor.


When working with neutrals your main challenge will be light: both natural and artificial. We always recommend testing paint colours first to see how the colour changes at different times of the day (natural light) and how it reflects under artificial light. Slap it up on the wall in a testing area and let it speak to you.

Paint Strength

The amount of tint is also key to the overall finish. For example, quarter (25%), half (50%) and full strengths can subtly change wall colours. We estimated the quarter strength would produce a washed-out effect under artificial lights, and the darker tint a gloomier effect.

We were right – the half strength Highgate is subtle, calming and yet bold enough to hold its own.

A handy rule of thumb: Half strength usually reflects a close equivalent to your paint swatch.

Finally, recognising neutral undertones (cool versus warm) will enhance your complementary colour palette. In this project the dark grey pole accents and charcoal flooring blend naturally with the walls – and that’s how it should be.

You can read our related article on colour theory and interior design here


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