You’ve fallen head over heels for a particular pattern and you want to really make it sing. Turn to the colour wheel and choose a colour opposite (or sort of opposite – don’t get too hung up on that) your pattern’s main hue, then apply that judiciously as a plain in the same room. It’s a bold look, and one that’s certainly not for everyone, but using complementary colours in this way will make both pattern and plain sing. Our Sunbury sideboard scene is the perfect example: this room is papered in a hand-painted de Gournay design, ‘Askew’, whose main colour is green-blue, so for the adjacent sideboard we’ve opted for Paprika red which creates a strong contrast.
Often within a multi-hued pattern, there’ll already be examples of complementary colours which will give you a way in. Going back to the Morris & Co. paper and looking at it instead in the four-poster bed scene, rather than focusing on the greens that are the primary colours of the pattern, we’ve chosen to make more of the red – their complementary – that’s a smaller detail in the pattern, painting the Larsson chest of drawers in Chestnut. Look again at our Morris & Co. living room shot and picture Chawton in red with the cushion in green instead, and you’ll see just how swapping monochrome for complementary will create a more dramatic space.
If you’d like a look that’s a touch less strong than the one created by complementary colours, there’s still inspiration to be found on the colour wheel with an analogous palette. This time, you’ll be taking your plain colours from either side of the pattern’s main colour e.g. red with pink, green with yellow, or in our second de Gournay scene, blue with green. It’s a trick that’ll create a scheme somewhere between the dynamic complementary palette and one where you’ve picked colours straight from the pattern.