Period-Inspired Painting Schemes

Choosing a painting colour scheme can be a complex process in the interior design of any home – but it’s worth going one step beyond the surface-level aesthetic to explore the hidden layers of character that a more historic style can evoke.

Heritage-style paints provide a modern update on the sophisticated palettes and distinctive styles found in period properties throughout the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras. Key periods in the history of British design, their use of colour and light can be used to create a sense of timelessness and elegance as part of a contemporary home design.

Mill House kitchen renovation
HG Interiors renovated the kitchen of a former mill house in Oxfordshire.

Clean and minimal

Dubbed the Age of Elegance, Georgian design draws on carefully balanced, muted palettes. Sage green and blue-greys were popular, with an increasing preference for lighter colours towards the end of the period, including soft greys, stone shades, sky blues and matte beiges.

We particularly like the soft, paired back tones created by Dulux Heritage Green Slate and Setting Stone. When paired with simple white walls, these heritage-inspired colours can be used to beautifully accentuate the architectural features of a property. Try painting skirting boards, architraves and ceiling cornices for a soft and timeless elegance.

Heritage bathroom design pastel painting
A palette of calm muted colours in this HollandGreen renovation of a Georgian town-house, interior design by Louise Holt.

Bright and bold

Moving into the Victorian era, interior trends begin to evolve towards the inclusion of dark, dominant colours, particularly burgundy, chocolate browns, deep greens and blues. While pastel colours were not seen during this period, these imposing shades balance beautifully with creams and subtle greys.

Victorian architecture is characterised by large windows with plenty of natural light – which means you can afford to opt for bolder colours on the walls. We recommend painting south and north-facing rooms in deeper shades of the chosen palette, while east and west-facing spaces tend to work better with lighter variants.

Little Greene offers a carefully researched range of heritage paints. Portland Stone, a hue originally seen on the facades of Victorian townhouses, combines well with Mid Bronze Green, a verdant colour used for front doors and railings, but which works equally well as part of an internal palette.

Beautiful white kitchen interior renovation

Playful and unique

Edwardian architecture moves away from the previously seen paired back simplicity, following its own distinct decorative style. Heavily influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, homes from this era were built with craftsmanship and characterful design at their heart.

Bold wallpapers come into their own as part of this distinctive aesthetic, with designers like William Morris providing a good source of inspiration. Typically paired with colours that create a sense of light and space, we recommend following the Edwardians’ lead and using a bright shade for the skirting boards or wainscoting below a bold print.

Heritage interiors

Balancing timeless and contemporary

Following a heritage inspired palette doesn’t necessarily demand the faithful recreation of a particular style – combining the best elements from each era can create a timeless and vibrantly characterful interior space.

Don’t be afraid to create a dramatic living room with bold, dark blocks of colour, balanced against a bright pastel palette for the bedrooms. Get creative with varying shades of the same colour on cupboards and walls for a beautifully elegant kitchen aesthetic.

Heritage mill house bathroom design

Whether you’re leaning towards a more contemporary interior or prefer to honour a traditional aesthetic that echoes the stories of eras past, drawing inspiration from period styles is a great place to start on your design journey.


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