I did a colour consult yesterday for someone that’s recently bought their own home. They’d always rented previously, so painting walls wasn’t an option and therefore not a concern. Now he’s got a four bedroom, three storey house to decorate and furnish, it’s not surprising he’s overwhelmed. We’ve already worked on his living room and it’s been completely transformed by choosing the right paint colour. I’m not exaggerating either. Will share some photos with you guys when the rest of the work is done.
The Brits’ fear of colour
Most people’s homes are off white, cream, ivory, dare I say, magnolia… there might be a feature wall somewhere or a splash of jazzy wallpaper in the downstairs loo, but generally us Brits are pretty scared of living with colour. I don’t just mean dark colours, but richer colours and pigments.
Dulux nailed the Brit’s fear of colour with their infamous, still going strong, Natural Hints collection. Apple White, Apricot White, Jade White… see where i’m going with this…? We like colour, but only a little bit, not too strong, just a hint. A bit like someone’s delicately waved a teabag near a cup of hot water to make the crappest cup of tea ever. I’d rather you didn’t bother.
I too have succumbed to the allure of at least three of these paint colours in the past. Nutmeg White being the colour I hated in my own living room for over three years. So i’m as guilty as anyone here peeps!
As you might have already guessed, today’s, slightly rambling post, is about colour and how to use it. I’m using images from Paint and Paper Library as inspiration, as i’ve been ogling several of these for some current projects. Their imagery is just spot on, oodles of stunning rooms with very clever use of colour and paint techniques. So much so, these pics might just get you itching to put that pot of Blossom White down and go for something a little different.
“Offering a distinguished palette of 180 unique colours and manufactured to exceptionally high standards in the UK – Paint & Paper Library provide inspiration, colour expertise and design ideas to interior decorators, architects and specifiers worldwide.”
I don’t think you could get a much more neutral scheme than this, but what an impact it makes to this glorious entrance hall. Obviously, the super high ceilings, dado and cornicing helps massively, but this technique can be used in more contemporary homes and properties without these features. That single black horizontal stripe is just genius, the dark, monochromatic colours framing that ornate dado rail.
How we perceive colour…
For most colour cards, the individual chips of colour are painted or printed onto a white background. White is obviously the complete lack of any colour, so if you put a splodge of paint on there, whatever it is… even if it’s bloomin Blossom White, it’s going to look darker. So when you try a blob of something with actual substance, an actual colour pigment… people tend to freak out.
Erm, hmm… is that going to be too dark? Will it make the room feel small?
And I say,
No. And no. It only looks dark here, because it’s on a white wall, once it’s on a whole wall, it will look like the colour it’s meant to. At the moment, your eye is just drawn to the harsh contrast between the before and after. Here’s a good example:
So let’s say you were looking at this for a colour scheme. A nice, warm neutral palette with a small splash of icy blue to freshen it up. I want to use Plaster II on your skirtings, plaster V on your walls and Spur on your door. What would you say? How many of you would say this:
“Plaster V is a bit dark for me, can we have Plaster II on the walls instead?”
Hands up if that’s you!
Then imagine I completely ignored you and did what I wanted anyway, and you came home and saw this:
Does that room look dark to you? Or warm and inviting? In comparison to the walls, how light does that skirting look? Do you still want that on your walls? When I first started this ere design lark, I was asked for some top tips for an article I was being featured in, one of my tips was “choose the colour you like but go one darker on the scale”. Because our eyes do deceive us. It’s our fear that leads us back to the lighter colour because that’s what we’re used to.
Top Tip 1:
ALL COLOURS LOOK LIGHTER ON A WHOLE WALL THAN THEY DO IN A TESTER PATCH
Check out this next Paper and Paint Library colour palette:
Lovely rich period colour scheme there with a strong, deep green with Hunter Dunn. It is undoubtedly green isn’t it!
Hmm… is that green? Is it? Looks teal, almost blue to me. What do you think? What do you see? The UK light has loads of blue in it, so paint a wall white, and it will have a blue-y, grey tinge. Paint a wall green, and this blue light with make it appear much blue-er, therefore more teal.
Top Tip 2:
ALWAYS BUY TESTERS BECAUSE THE LIGHT WILL CHANGE HOW YOU PERCEIVE THE FINAL COLOUR
One of the reasons blue is such a popular colour here in the UK is it doesn’t fight with the light issue. And no it’s not a cold colour. It can be incredibly warm used with dark woods, tans and browns. See below…
This is a very similar colour we’ve just used in my client’s new living room. A beautiful backdrop to his vintage furniture and dark timber accents.
Now here’s a great way of playing with colour without fully committing. Get your frog tape out and splash out with a rich, deeper section of wall whilst still keeping your existing scheme. This could easily have been a huge, expensive piece of art, where as this could be done in less than a day and cost a couple of pots of paint. Absolutely, brilliant use of colour.
If you’re feeling slightly more experimental and want something bolder, then you’d be hard pressed to find something more “wow” than this. The power of paint and a bit of ‘out of the box’ thinking has certainly paid off here.
Porcelain II and Porcelain V
And finally, this last image sums up perfectly the plan we made yesterday for my client’s staircase and landing. A subtle, split wall in soft greys. The individual colours here aren’t exactly bold, but the way they’ve been used adds the extra oomph. Elegant and fresh at the same time.
So that’s your lot for today. Are you a self confessed wuss when it comes to choosing and committing to using colour at home? Scared to ditch the off-whites and creams? Let me know what you think of today’s post!
Featured image – Beetlenut and Heath
Photography – Paul Raeside for Paper and Paint Library