‘I hate that’ – Trend Setters & Tastemakers on the Colour They Can’t Stand

We already know that colour is a subjective thing. You can love something that even your most tasteful and in-tune-with-you friend absolutely abhors – and vice versa. With this in mind, we wanted to find out which colour some of our favourite interiors tastemakers simply can’t stand – the people who have seen a lot and have made up their minds. Some of their answers were surprising, two people chose the same shade – and even had the same life attitude. In every case we wanted to illustrate their choices with images we think are lovely, just to see if maybe, just maybe we can change some minds?

Brown rooms  Farrow & Ball  The Chromologist

Left: A brown bathroom, decorated with Farrow & Ball’s St Antoine wallpaper – the stuff of Sophie’s nightmares? Right: Tanners Brown, one of the brand’s key colours for 2015   


“The one colour I hate is brown. My worst room would be a ’70s confection of brown. Actually a ’70s brown bathroom suite would really hit the nail on the head! I hate brown because to me it looks grubby, hippy, dull and worthy. And boring. I’m not mad keen on the derivatives either: taupe, mocha, coffee etc.”

Sophie Robinson, designer and judge of GIDC

Red rooms  The Chromologist

 Left: The state dining room at Buckingham Palace, which Lisa Whatmough thinks works. Right: Can this sitting room persuade Michelle Ogundehin that burgundy can be more than just tolerable?


“As a matter of policy, I don’t do negatives… and ‘hate’ is a pretty strong one! There are colours I absolutely love, but none I feel so strongly about as to hate. I’m mildly indifferent to burgundy if that helps?”

Michelle Ogundehin, Editor Elle Decoration

“Being a believer in the Law of Attraction. I would never use the word ‘hate’ about anything let alone apply it to someone else’s taste, but I do get a somewhat visceral reaction to wine-coloured dining rooms with white ceilings and wood work. It’s not my bag at all and it’s even worse if the red is to the terracotta side of the colour chart. Red is a wondrous life affirming colour, but there is a how not to and how to do it!”

Lisa Whatmough, Designer and founder of Squint

Lilac rooms  The Chromologist

Left: An eclectic lilac living room from House & Garden, photo by Simon Brown. Right: A chest painted in Calluna and teamed with lilac wallpaper.


“A colour that for us is simply ‘porridge’ and should never be seen is lilac. We just can’t get on with lilac. It’s the go-to colour for people who can’t decide what they like and don’t want to make a mistake. The only mistake is to use lilac. Who knows, with this year’s colour being terracotta, maybe lilac will make a comeback. We hope not. But maybe that is a challenge we can’t resist. Making Lilac Lovely.”

2 lovely gays, interior designers

Pink buildings  pink interiors  The Chromologist

Left: Photograph taken by Pip McCormac depicting a pink he hates. Right: The same pink, used alongside yellow – can it tempt Pip to reconsider?


“Pink is more than just a colour. It’s a rainbow in its own right. Dusky rose, with hints of grey, is grown-up and subtle. Hot pink, the colour of neon signs and disco nights, is vibrant and alive. Then there’s that pink in the middle. Clotted pink, I call it, a kind of yellowy, mouldering, mangy pink. It’s the colour of felt tips as they run out, winter coats bought in the spring sales, and this house, in Cape Town. Ok, so this house looks good, but that’s because of the blue sky and cactus and its peeling charm. In any other guise this fleshy shade sends shivers down my spine. A pink without a hint of prettiness.”

Pip McCormac, Lifestyle Director, Red

Green rooms  The Chromologist

 Left: Is this bathroom too chilly for Ruth Aram (photo from HouseToHome)? Right: Can the bedroom with its red accents in architect Chris Dyson’s home help to change her mind?


“Green is interesting, often beautiful and I love to add accents to my wardrobe but for interiors, green is another story. Very tricky to work with, it tends to make spaces feel cold or, in the case of pale greens, institutional.”

Ruth Aram, Director, Aram Store

Jill Macnair


Jill Macnair has worked as an interiors journalist for 13 years, contributing to titles including Elle Decoration, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. She set up cult interiors blog My Friend’s House in 2009 with Ros Anderson and continues to run the forum daily.

The Chromologist 2019 | Farrow & Ball

The Chromologist