Mad About . . .

Beautiful Rooms: Add one focal colour

21st November 2022
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It’s eight weeks since we moved house, one room is almost done and today we embark on a big push before Christmas. It’s going to be hellish but it should take five weeks and we will have one bedroom finished, two more almost done and the sitting room begun.

via The Old Potato Store, table painted in Summer Pudding by Atelier Ellis

via The Old Potato Store, table painted in Summer Pudding by Atelier Ellis

It’s slightly chaotic as we are replacing floors, radiators and windows which means you need to do a bit here – radiator pipework – before you can add a bit more there – joinery and decor – before doing the flooring and installing the radiators themselves. In an ideal world, which this isn’t, we would do the window first followed by the radiator first fix, the flooring, joinery and decor and add the radiators as the finishing touch. This would also probably mean not living in it either but since that’s not an option we are having to do each room in part style and move the chaos around from room to room like a giant game of Tetris.

But, in theory, by Christmas, we should have storage for all the boxes, the hard flooring – boards and cork – will be down and the upstairs windows replaced. There should then be a bit of touching up round the windows and the final touch – sisal flooring in two of the bedrooms will be all that remains.

design by Bespoke Only, shot by Simpson Jacoby, via Living Etc

design by Bespoke Only, shot by Simpson Jacoby, via Living Etc

The kitchen and bathroom starts in January but at least we should have space for the boxes so it will be easier to manoeuvre and once the upstairs bathroom is done, the chaos should be confined to the ground floor. Everything is now chosen and/or ordered bar the colour for the sitting room shelves and walls. I know roughly what it will be but the final decision is yet to be made. And so today we are looking at rooms where there is one focal colour that stands out. Sometimes it’s about the colour, sometimes it’s about how it’s applied. I found them all inspiring in different ways.

I’m going to make you scroll a little. The top room is about painting the table in front of that busy but monochrome wallpaper. Painted furniture has come in for a bad rap over the years, partly, I think as we have simply seen too much of it. But used well (and not in every room) it can be a vital tool in the decorating arsenal. The joy of this neutral background, although the wallpaper is a dramatic pattern itself, is that you can paint the table whenever you like and in whatever colour you like and it will still work. This, for those who are easily bored, means you can change the look of the room without having to strip wallpaper or climb a ladder. One day, one tin of paint, one brush and the job is done.

via House and Garden designed by Douglas Mackie and photographed by Simon Upton

via House and Garden designed by Douglas Mackie and photographed by Simon Upton 

The second image is the reverse. The wood stays natural and the colour is added behind. Again, painting a wall isn’t the biggest job and perhaps it’s less fiddly than a desk and you can see how this room could be refreshed as many times as you wanted simply by changing the colour of the wall behind it.

Above, the chair stands out like a painting against these chocolate dark shelves. The gold legs are a great touch and another easy change to make to personalise and add character to a piece of furniture. They also take the eye to the gilt side table, while the rich apricot velvet links to the books on the shelves.

Now this picture stopped me in my tracks. You can visit the original image to see the before and after. Essentially it was a low window cramped under a sloping ceiling that looked a bit strange with furniture in front of it. But by making a feature of this oddity it has created a space that looks utterly inviting, cosy and, above all, meant. If you read in a magazine that the owner wanted to create a little reading area and added a window to bring in natural light you would believe that it had been done at, probably not inconsiderable expense, for entirely personal reasons. Instead, it has been created out of necessity and has made something architecturally problematic look considered and interesting. Of course, this window is not an issue that many of us will have to deal with but I believe that many of us have odd corners and spaces where the instinct is to try and paint it away and try and hide but but maybe taking the time to find a use for it and celebrate the odd shapes will bring more satisfaction in the end.

image via @forever_bungalow yellow wall painted alcove

image via @forever_bungalow yellow wall painted alcove

This yellow is the opposite of the room above. Here, there was no feature that needed hiding but the owner has created one with paint. However, she has taken it one, clever, step further. Instead of stopping at the coving and creating a simple rectangle on the wall she has continued up over the ceiling adding a curve that is like a distorted shadow. This is both more interesting and more art-like. Such a clever idea and one that I wouldn’t have had so am all the more in awe for how much this simple addition brings to the space.

So who’s got an odd space that they are now thinking about celebrating?


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  • Elaine Fraser 21st November 2022 at 2:31 pm

    Great post !
    Lovely colours
    Clever ideas

  • Marie 21st November 2022 at 10:34 am

    Thanks for that great post. Sent me off down a rabbit hole there Kate … To view @restoringlansdowne and @forever_bungalow … super clever ideas. I wish you well during all the building work … It will be worth it. Meditate and stay calm!

  • Lenore Taylor 21st November 2022 at 9:18 am

    Yes, the yellow paint feature, how clever. But that alcove in restoringlansdowne, O M G! Just give me a little low table for my book and my coffee. See ya later…. Cheers from Canada!

    • Denise 21st November 2022 at 1:42 pm

      Amen, sister, amen. Kate is right – the “before” pictures on the owner’s Instagram page show how truly incredible this is.

  • Janet Whincup 21st November 2022 at 7:08 am

    Thanks. That is all very interesting and thought provoking.😊

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