Mad About . . .

10 Beautiful Rooms: The Light Side

8th October 2018

Now I’m not saying that the fashion for dark interiors is over. But I am going to say that its dominance is perhaps beginning to wane. That it’s having to move over to make room for its lighter cousin. Suddenly I feel like I’m seeing lots of light walls and warm colours and it looks great.

pale walls and copper cupboards by Em Gurner via

pale walls and copper cupboards by Em Gurner via

Lying awake at 4am the other morning after the cat jumped on my chest (and, once she had ascertained that I was awake, left just as suddenly as she had arrived) I started to ponder if this would affect my decorating choices and came to the conclusion that, at this stage, it won’t. But that I like looking at these lighter, pretty rooms.

neutral interiors by

neutral interiors by

My sitting room has been dark for over six years now and I am completely wedded to its current shade of chocolate brown. But it has pale floors and a white ceiling and faces south so it’s naturally a very light room. Would I paint it light? Not at the moment.

pale interiors via

pale interiors via

But two of the biggest instagrammers are doing just that  – Lisa Dawson and The Kate Edit, the latter was known for her dark interiors and strings of fairy lights before she closed her account and reopened it with a change of feel.

white walls by

white walls by

So this week I thought we would look at some gorgeous pale rooms and see what we thought. Basically there’s room for everything, so if you have just painted grey or black or decided that you had finally plucked up the courage to go dark then don’t panic.

white kitchen with eames chairs via @rvl_loves

white kitchen with eames chairs via Rebecca @rvk_loves

This blog, and its book, and, indeed these regular Monday posts, are about showing you what’s out there so you can find your own style and work out what makes you happy in your home. It’s not about a set of rules but about hopefully helping you to find your own style and be aware of the possibilities and ideas that are out there.

vintage pink vanity via @rvk_loves

vintage pink vanity via @rvk_loves

But the basic principles of using colour will still apply. If you have a small dark room, it can make sense to paint it dark and embrace what the builder, and the mortgaging bank, gave you. If you have a large, light room then there are those who will advise you to keep it that way. And the other half who will tell you to go dark because the room can take it.

pale walls and dark windows image via chanandeayrs

pale walls and dark windows image via chanandeayrs

And then there’s the halfway house with the half-painted wall. Or the mix of dark and light rooms, which is where I have ended up.

the grange via aucoot

the grange via aucoot 

There is one thing to note though. If you have a dark room then that is the first thing you will notice. The second may be how pictures on the wall stand out more how the colours will pop against the dark background. But in a pale room you will have to work harder for the same effect. You will need to layer lots of different textures and textiles to bring the drama and interest.

room by gubi paint the doors and walls the same and add a single pop of colour

room by gubi paint the doors and walls the same and add a single pop of colour

It was also interesting to visit the home of Abigail Ahern last week whose rooms are all resolutely dark from floor to ceiling. She would say that it has nothing to do with fashion – she is vehemently against the idea of a trends – but says she has found her perfect style and is sticking to it.

image via aucoot

image via aucoot

So look at these pictures. Work out what you love and loathe and see if you can find your own style. At that point fashions can come and go and you can be free to add a little bit of what you fancy and ignore the rest because you will know how you want your space to look.


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  • Amanda 11th October 2018 at 4:23 pm

    What a lovely house. As in your other posts (in particular the 31 Aug post) there are some doors that are different colours. We have to decide on colour for the doors in our house. How can we have different colours but still make sure the house seems cohesive and not a miss match of different colours? It would be great to have your thoughts on this. Thank you.

  • Ironmongery Experts 10th October 2018 at 3:11 pm

    Awesome photos, light rooms feel more spacious and you an add warmth with some nice accessories

  • Giedre 9th October 2018 at 6:48 pm

    What? I’ve only begun toying with the idea of darker shades in the rooms since the last winter and it’s over already?…

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 10th October 2018 at 8:04 am

      It’s not over at all. It’s just that light is coming back into fashion. Dark will never go but it has dominated for the last few years – as light did for so long. You must always do what is right for you.

  • Sandra 8th October 2018 at 8:43 pm

    Interesting, I thought the dark rooms would be around for ever. Maybe I’m a slow starter but I love the dark colours for small spaces – loo on the landing etc., I just feel happier more energised in light filled rooms. I have just painted my hallway F&B Shadow White and the sitting room will be Dropcloth within the next few weeks, the look will be calming and contemporary. I just love the way the shades changed depending on the light and time of day.

  • dd 8th October 2018 at 3:27 pm

    All beautiful rooms, but each one would not be enhanced and unified by the addition of some darker colour IMHO.

  • Anna 8th October 2018 at 11:04 am

    Being ancient I have learned that it all depends upon the room and what happens in it. Nothing to do with fashions at all.
    A large north facing dinning room is transformed into an inviting space when painted with a dark colour . So much so my family now spend a lot more time in there. (Took me 3 years of pleading but eventually the young in my family went for a deep blue).
    A small loo begs to be dark as does a study/office room.

    Meanwhile my top floor, south facing flat with large windows is all white and will remain so.

  • sue luckin 8th October 2018 at 10:45 am

    For me these lovely light filled rooms are like a breath of fresh air. An interesting and insightful piece, Kate, thank you.

  • Susan Lopez 8th October 2018 at 10:16 am

    I totally agree regarding the change to light color. I had dark grey and warm colored Venetian plaster on the walls for 12 years and was so much easier to style than the lighter walls I painted last year. Furnishings were also easier to integrate. If you have a great many older pieces they can look shabby with light walls. Antique rugs which added warmth to the room now look, well, just old. I’ve pared down a great deal and added more texture. I’ve also added color pops throughout and focused on a few really great accessories. I also added lighter color very full drapes which gave the rooms much needed opulence. I’m finally beginning to love the freshness and light the lighter walls bring to my home. I think this is a trend that has been coming for some time and will stick around for many years to come.

  • Nicola P 8th October 2018 at 10:04 am

    That room by Gubi is killing me! In a good way that is.

    One question if I may, Kate? What are your thoughts on decorating new flats? Wait a bit or get stuck in?


  • @lindaclaytonwrites 8th October 2018 at 7:47 am

    I think, for me, it’s about not wanting to repeat. Our old house had lots of dark colours, like Off-Black and Hague Blue and I loved them but, now we’ve moved, I don’t want to wheel them out again. Plus it’s much colder here and I’m afraid I’ll freeze my nuts off!

  • Hélène 8th October 2018 at 7:16 am

    Is it me or is Magnolia making a come back? Except of course, this time round it’s going to be called ficelle de chanvre pâle or Biscuit mal cuit to disguise the fact…

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