Paint – more than just aesthetics


Dawn Scott of Dulux Trade explains why painting and decorating is the ideal way to keep maintenance costs down while boosting the wellbeing of tenants.

The effect that colour has on an individual’s mood has been recognised and well documented for a number of years. But with the pandemic forcing people to stay at home – and the issue of mental health becoming an even more important topic of discussion – the role interior design plays in supporting wellbeing has been brought to the fore.

Carefully selecting colours for the home and workplace can greatly improve the mood of occupants to ensure they are at their happiest. The pride people feel every time they walk into their newly decorated home can make all the difference.

But designing for 21st-century living is not always straightforward. There are several factors to consider when creating welcoming and positive spaces for your residents; such as sustainability, the growth of stress related issues, mental and physical health, the ageing population, identity, and our relationship with technology.

Colour is an underutilised way to add an extra dimension to great building design, which goes far beyond aesthetics; colour can maximise user experience for each building’s unique purpose.

As well as this, it’s also a relatively inexpensive solution. Redecorating is a great way to keep maintenance costs down for facilities managers, developers and landlords, while simultaneously boosting the wellbeing of residents.

But, to truly make a difference to the wellbeing of occupants and residents, it’s crucial that the design is centred around the people that will be using the space.

Meeting specific needs

As an example, when designing for elderly tenants or spaces for people living with dementia, the environment must support their specific needs. Using evidence-based colour palettes and colour schemes can really help. Colours that have been selected and combined to enable colour and contrast of critical surfaces can help patients to navigate their settings in care environments – while a well-considered palette can reinforce a sense of dignity, instil positive personal connections and provide stimulation within the space.

In the private housing sector, renter demand for high-quality, sustainable homes that support wellbeing has increased significantly over the past few years and the use of appropriate products within these types of properties is likely to attract higher interest from tenants, investors and house hunters.

Thankfully, achieving these improvements to support the wellbeing of residents and occupants doesn’t always mean vast structural change – and the substantial costs that come with it. Technological advancements in recent years have resulted in significant progress in developing finishes that are designed to last. Applying paint with durable finishes can lower costs substantially by extending maintenance cycles.

In social housing, paint products with durable finishes are especially useful for high-traffic areas, such as hallways, corridors, stairwells and communal spaces. The unformulation means there is no need for repainting, as scuffs and marks can simply be wiped away – which is also much more sustainable. For multi-occupancy buildings, products with antibacterial properties can help stop the spread of germs and bacteria on interior walls within communal areas.

Housing professionals should also look out for low or minimal Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) products. VOCs are chemicals used in the production of a wide range of products that vaporise and are emitted into the air. They are often found in building materials, such as paint, waxes and varnishes. In high concentrations, particularly indoors, VOCs can cause adverse health effects. Fortunately, the development of VOC-free and low-VOC paint has come on leaps and bounds over the past few years.

Making a difference

There is still more work to be done to explore how colour and design can support health and wellbeing in a number of areas, from social and private housing to offices, healthcare settings and schools.

If we continue to dedicate time and resources to further this agenda, however, the positive impact we could have on the lives of millions of people across the UK is tremendous.

Dawn Scott is commercial colour consultant at Dulux Trade