How to Use Colour and Pattern in Your Home
Jane McIntyre talks about venturing out of the comfort zone and adding colour and pattern to your interiors.
This blog is much later coming than expected, for which I must send apologies. Same old story I’m afraid, that nasty autumn cold you get when the temperature changes and the germs just burrow in with a cough that leaves you sleepless. All I want to do in those situations - and did - is curl up by the fire with a large whisky and feel sorry for myself, until, that is, I discovered Box Sets on Sky and it was all over, amazing how all that discipline of working into the wee small hours that we little retailers have to do was just blown away in one short moment at the sight of Jon Hamm in a pair of swimming trunks. I wouldn’t mind if I even liked whisky, I’m a Gin girl at heart, but large whiskies over a lot of ice and sipped slowly by a roaring fire is good for the soul as well as the chest, at least that’s what I tell myself and I am certainly much better for it now.
Enough of my ramblings, down to the matter in hand. We were discussing colour and pattern and how to use it in the home, subjects I feel most passionate about but ones which are rather an uphill struggle for me as people do cling so desperately to the soft, neutral plains which I suppose are their safety nets. So what I say to the more fainthearted amongst you is TRY IT, you don’t have to make a giant leap at first, just a few tentative steps for starters, check it out and see if you feel comfortable then try a little bit more. I have one client who felt her room had gone too brown, with a deep brown velvet sofa, biscuit coloured walls, plain gold curtains, no pattern at all - too much invested to start again but very much in need of an injection of life. So we started with ditching the matching sofa cushions and substituting with some rather gorgeous velvet cushions from Boeme, just four to start with but all very different and none matching - we had shades of amber, gold, red, teal, cobalt, pink and green in pretty vivid patterns and the customer was initially scared, but it really did work a treat. Over the next few months she added little dabs of colour here and there in the form of throws, lampshades, a new cabinet and yes, even more bright cushions and what a total transformation for very little expense. My motto is to always deal with what you have and try adding and rearranging before you ditch.
But colour and pattern doesn’t always have to be bright. Have you seen the new and very lovely Sanderson wallpapers which are renditions of the old designs in more neutral shades, some very pale and some with a little more depth. I do so love wallpapers and thank goodness they are having a major resurgence. These papers are particularly good because you can have the drama of the pattern without the multitude of colours in which they were first designed and choose to pair them with soft neutral tones, to give an overall very gentle approach or can - as I have done - find some deeper and richer tones to act as a backdrop, best of both worlds so to speak. Here is how I tackled a very long, narrow hallway which opened up into a dining space with a window overlooking the garden. The client fell in love with the Bachelors Button design from the William Morris Pure range, but the expense of it meant we could only really do a small part of a very long and winding corridor. So we took the straightest edge for the papered wall, the one which had direct light from the bathroom and dining room shining onto it and used a soft neutral for all the winding, odd edges of the corridor. As we also wanted a little bit of drama, we chose a lovely, sludgy green for the dining space, lit by a single low hanging glass pendant and the effect is a quiet, intimate space which turns uber dramatic at night. Although Sanderson have their own paints, which are very lovely and affordable, I have discovered that Edward Bulmer natural paints team very well with these papers, they use a lot of pigment and are a very matt finish, so a lovely velvety texture is the end result. The colours used here were French Grey (walls), Whiting (Woodwork) and the dining space is Drab Green. By seeing the two pics of the area (not desperately good I’m afraid, take by phone in haste) you can see how the paper works very differently when the Green is introduced. As I said, best of both worlds, but in one space.
Of course for the more daring there are heaps of very inspirational papers and fabrics out there, it is as if someone from above has lit the touch paper and more or less anything goes. My latest obsession - they come and go with alarming regularity - are the new designs from Mind The Gap and below you’ll see the one I have chosen for my next project at home.
Below is how Mind the Gap merchandise this wallpaper but the Out of Africa look won’t suit my house, so I’m introducing lots of textures with self patterned linen curtains, a very beautiful Art Deco burr walnut bed with a wrap around footboard, a sofa covered in an acid lime velvet and some very luscious forest green velvet bed throws and cushions over crumpled white linen. The walls and ceiling are a chalky and slightly murky green and the paintwork a sandy white to lighten it all a bit, as with the sisal carpeting and some soft lighting with very bright aqua glass shades. My partner is screaming, he thinks I’ve finally gone insane, but I think it will work so I’m having a go. I’ll put up some photos when it’s finished, which could be a while as the builders have gone awol, as they tend to at this busy time of year.
But there are literally tons to choose from right now, the decorating world is absolutely one’s oyster and this is just a teeny, tiny taster of things to come. I could waffle on all night about pattern and colour, but I’m dreadfully slow at typing and that much needed Gin and Tonic is calling me from the fireside, but I hope I have perhaps induced a sense of adventure amongst you.
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