I’m delighted to introduce you all to Sophie Robinson, judge on The Great Interior Design Challenge, interior stylist and coming soon to you screens on some other cool telly programmes which I’m sure you will all be watching. Last month, her fellow judge Daniel Hopwood, shared his interior design tips that he had used in his own home. This month Sophie will be guiding us on how to bring in colour to our houses in a grown-up way that works, and doesn’t look like a kindergarten. I’m not one for masses of colour as you know, but I always think Sophie looks amazing – and the key to a happy interior design scheme starts in the wardrobe. Sometimes I envy her ability to bring in lots of colours rather than just one or two against a dark background which is about as brave as I get. So, if you’re nervous of colour, then read on for some helpful advice. And I know Sophie reads the blog too so if you have any specific questions then do drop them in the box below and I’m sure she will be happy to answer. Over to you Ms Robinson:
“You know that well-known self help phrase: Feel the fear and do it anyway? Well I’ve pretty much applied that theory to all my colour schemes. My earliest foray into interior design was at the age of seven when my Mum let me concoct the scheme for my bedroom decoration. As I flicked through wallpaper books I felt the rush of excitement and realised this was a seminal moment in my life. I wanted to be an interior designer. I went for a rainbow theme complete with 80s style graph paper, a rainbow border with co-ordinating curtains and a duvet set. Boom!
So I embraced colour from a very early age and have enjoyed using it throughout my home and wardrobe. For me it’s always been instinctive. I have never used the colour wheel or anything scientific. My gut tells me what colours I need to create a mood or lift a scheme and I’m never afraid to experiment. But for those of you sitting in your impeccably sophisticated grey sitting rooms (*gives Kate the side eye*), let me share my top five ways to introduce colour in your home because I’m telling you you’re missing out on some serious colour fun.
First off, I’m going to shatter that illusion that you can go all neutral and simply add accent colour with a few cushions. You’re going to have to try a lot harder than that if you want to create sizzling impact. Colour is not just for cushions but for artwork, furnishings, fabric and rugs, even furniture. It’s frugal to go neutral for the big ticket items like floors, walls and main piece of furniture – sofa or bed. Then you can pop to your heart’s content with accessories.
In this image above, which I styled for Ideal Home Magazine, I used purple and yellow and I’ve carried them all around the room – you need to think in the full 360. A signature armchair in a bold colour is always a winner as it draws the eye across the space.
Next you need to pick a colour palette. I love bright wallpapers and fabrics and will often use that to draw out the rest of my scheme adding and mixing other patterns and accessories. The fabric companies do the hard work for you in this way – they’ve already worked out which colours sit well together so you can just pinch from them. I don’t think there should be a limit to how many different colours you use but you need to add them in different proportions. Pick your hero colour and the rest are the soldiers.
Do be organic. I think it’s essential to avoid the tear sheet look where a room looks overly designed or co-ordinated. In my last flat, which was open plan, everything was added over time but a few key colours always pulled it back together. You can see teal, mimosa and crimson dotted about but they helped to pull my very busy and eclectic style together and give it a sense of cohestion.
If, like me, you love those bright jewel colours, then do consider going dark with your walls as they work better against darker shades in our part of the world. Farrow and Ball’s Down Pipe dowdy seriousness was perfect to show off my collection of brights in my last home and it stopped them from appearing childish. The current trend for inky navy blues works just as well especially with juicy bright velvets and sludgy greys that make the colours look fresh rather than too sunny.
Even after you’ve achieved your beautifully balanced colour scheme you should always aim to kick it off with a dash of the unexpected. In order to be a little rock and roll throw in a canary yellow vase or neon pink cushion. If your room is to feel fresh and individual you must avoid the overly coordinated look at all times. Don’t be afraid to buy a heap of stuff on the credit card, play around with it at home, mix and match and send the rest back. Your home should be your own canvas to play around with.
Now if that has whetted your appetite for all things colour and you are an interior designer, Sophie is running a one day workshop with brand expert Fiona Humberstone. The course will explore how different colours relate to different personality types which, says Sophie, is a game changer when it comes to working out colour schemes for clients. To find out more about the course, click here.
Otherwise for more advice and styling check out Sophie’s website