Nothing has the power to lift the spirit and add personality to a home like a bit of colour.The Resident asks the experts how to use colour in our homes
WORDS Kara O’Reilly
This may come as a surprise to those who know me well – after all, I have been encased in my monochrome uniform of black with hints of white and grey, come sun or snow, since my teen years – but I really love colour. And I really, really love colour used in interiors. From a ‘toe in the water’ accent accessory to a full-on, joyous, ceiling-to-floor number, nothing has the power to lift the spirit and add personality to a home like a bit of well-chosen colour.
The doyenne of how to do colour well is Tricia Guild, Founder and Creative Director of Designers Guild (designersguild.com), which she set up back in 1970; opening the worth-a-trip-to King’s Road flagship in 1972. If you are someone who is nervous of embracing colour, just having a flick through one of Guild’s wallpaper sample books may well prove to be your jumping-off point for a new look at how you decorate. And because she designs in fantastically thought-through co-ordinating collections of wallpapers, fabrics and paint, she makes you feel as if even the most colour-phobic could pull together one of her more exuberant looks.
The use of paint in our homes should reflect the spectrum of colours we encounter. From primary colours of blue and red to the more muted tones of stone and heather, these colours connect our interior with the exterior world
Guild would be the first to say that for colour to work in anyone’s life, they have to choose shades that they are drawn to. This is a view shared by David Mottershead, Managing Director of great British paint company, Little Greene (littlegreene.com) – another of my go-tos when it comes to decorating with colour. He also agrees with Guild that colour runs the full gamut and doesn’t just mean Crayola brights, but also soft neutrals, powdery pastels, moody darks and everything in between.
‘The use of paint in our homes should reflect the spectrum of colours we encounter in the world beyond our windows. From primary colours of blue and red to the more muted tones of stone and heather, these colours connect our interior with the exterior world,’ he explains.
IMHO, The Little Greene paint chart – along with those of the influential Farrow & Ball, the soon-to-be-relaunched Paper & Paint Library, and interior designer Abigail Ahern’s bijoux range of dusky shades – should be in every interiorista’s inspirations scrapbook, while recently I have been rather taken by Edward Bulmer Pots of Paint, which is a well-considered range of natural, mineral-pigmented, historical paint colours from the architectural historian.
So, if in among your recent resolutions you have decided to do something to your home, consider picking up a colour-loaded paintbrush or investing in an eye-catching accessory that will make your heart sing every time you see or use it (both Heal’s and Habitat have fabulously hued cushions, throws and tableware in their new spring collections, BTW).
It’s all about baby steps, as Guild suggests: ‘Try adding colour in small doses first: a cushion, a throw or a rug. Or use colour in unexpected ways: paint the insides of cupboards with a vivid shade or use coloured linings for curtains and blinds. While hallways are a great place to use stronger colour, as they are areas that you travel through, so they can enliven and energise you without being over-bearing.’