Decorating with brave colour

Decorating with brave colour

There are lots of reasons to introduce bold new colours into your home.

If you’ve found yourself drawn to richer, braver colour palettes in recent times, there may be more to it than a simple desire for a change of scene from milky pale walls. Cultural historian, author, and colour expert Kassia St Clair explains: “Colour trends tend to be cyclical: periods of colour restraint are often followed by bold experimentation.” But trends are only one small part of our changing tastes. “Other things come into play too,” she adds. “We respond to shifts in politics and culture. So, for example, people coming out of times of enforced restraint or fear - precipitated by economic downturns, wars, environmental disasters, or outbreaks of disease - generally respond by being braver with fashion and interior choices.”

And while we might subconsciously lean towards colour as a reaction to the world around us, we also respond to colour on an emotional level. “We don’t just see colours with the eye and mind, but with the heart,” explains Lucinda Chambers, the founder of online fashion and interiors store Collagerie and former fashion director of Vogue, who recently transformed spaces in our Neptune Fulham store in her signature colourful style. “Colours bring joy into the world and make the everyday experiences richer and more inspirational.”

So, how to begin if you are looking to inject some brave new colour into your own home? Here are our starting points:
  • It can be easier to be bold in smaller spaces, so start small with a powder room, pantry or utility room, and gradually develop your colour confidence.
  • Build up a mood board over a period of time – collect together ideas, swatches and samples and photos of things that catch your eye. After a few weeks going through this process, common threads start to emerge which can then lead you towards a scheme for your space.
  • When in doubt about using – and combining - colour, we recommend applying the 60-30-10 decorating ratio. The principle advises that 60% of a space is dedicated to your main colour, 30% to your secondary colour, and 10% to your accent colour. 

  • Introduce a large sample of your chosen colour into your space (try painting a couple of pieces of A3 paper, for example) and live with it for a few days, observing how the colour changes in different lights. If it doesn’t make you feel good and enhance the room, then consider dialling up or down on the intensity of the shade.
  • Bear in mind, different colours have different psychological effects on us. Soft pinks, like Potter’s Pink feel nurturing, while stronger tones such as Rhubarb and Chestnut feel enveloping and warm. Dark blues like Navy and Ink are associated with peace, and dark greens like Constable Green with balance. Browns suggest comfort and relaxation and darker shades such as Walnut can feel luxurious, while ochre shades like Saffron and Mustard relate to optimism, energy, and sophistication. 
  • Finally, “brave colour choices are part of a natural human celebration of life and all that it has to offer,” says Kassia. So, push yourself out of your comfort zone, take a chance on a new colour scheme and dare to make the odd mistake. It could be the best decorating decision you ever made.

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