Guest Post: Sophie Robinson On 5 Ways To Bring Colour Into Your Home

Television present Sophie Robinson proved to be one of the most popular guest bloggers in The Mad House with her 5 ways to bring colour into your home so I thought I’d share it with you again during this season of August updates.

I’m delighted to introduce you all to Sophie Robinson, judge on The Great Interior Design Challenge, interior stylist and designer on DIY SOS. This month Sophie will be guiding us on how 5 ways 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 for your 5 ways:

brightly coloured accent colours pop against the dark wall

“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.

styled by Sophie Robinson for Ideal Home

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.

Sophie’s dark yet colourful bedroom

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.

Sophie’s old flat with its colour scheme against dark walls. image by Alun Callender

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. Penelope armchairs in Amazon and Peony Penelope armchairs in Amazon and Peony

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






Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Hi Sophie,
    I love you colour choices! Can you tell me what the blue wall is in the picture with the vases and bird light please?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Jen
      The colour is actually Down pipe by Farrow and Ball. Just goes to show how light and a camera flash can alter the colour as its actually a grey- with a hint of blue

  2. Hi Sophie- thanks for this post, i totally adore your style, both in fashions and interiors and whilst ive always enjoyed using a bold colour in my home, you have encouraged me to take it a stage further. My living room is painted in Moonshadow from Little Greene (I LOVE their colour palette) and my struggle is ‘dressing’ the walls. I have a large image from Woop studio of ‘A charm of Finches’ Its really colourful and looks great on the blue wall. I also have other prints dotted around but a have a large wall which the sofa is against that looks very bare… Do you have any suggestions for great places to find prints or bits of art that arent super expensive? Im also wondering what colour frames i should go for? I have some oak furniture- sort of mid century in style and i like things to not look too ‘matchy matchy’. Any help would be much appreciated.

    1. Hi Caroline
      Your room sounds wonderful and you paint a gorgeous picture of it. You sure are a colour lover after my own heart. Your dark Moonshadow wall is the perfect backdrop for other colours. I’d be tempted to do a gallery wall with a collection of smaller pieces of artwork. The fun with this is you can grow it organically over time and keep adding interesting pieces as you collect them. I’ve made gallery walls from pictures and items I’ve collected from Ebay, carboot sales, mixed in with some original pieces. To make it al hang togther think of a colour theme that runs throughout. It might work to start with the colour palette from the ‘Charm of Finches’ image. Good luck!

      1. Thanks Sophie!- Ill get hunting… I love the idea and think the gallery wall you had in your home looked just great- I will use that as inspiration!

        PS- I’ve just read your post about pale pink and I’ve just bought Little Greene’s ‘Light peach blossom’ for my internal front door and spare bedroom- I LOVE these dusky muddy pinks at the moment- cant wait to get painting.

  3. Great and interesting post.
    I’m wary about color/choosing the wrong colors. I like the idea of getting lots and sending lots back.
    I really like the branch/leaf designs in the second photograph from the top (styled by Sophie Robinson for Ideal Home).
    Could you please tell me where they are from?

    1. Hi Gill
      When I was on The Great Interior Design Challenge I used to buy loads of clothes online, try them all on, play with different combinations and then send what I didn’t want back. I also have since applied this theory to my interiors too! So many companies now offer free delivery and returns it makes it easier than you’d think.
      The branch wall art was from…….drumroll…Argos! I’ve just checked and I don’t think they do them any more, but Dunelm Mill sell similar designs.

      1. Hi Sophie;
        Thank you very much for replying.
        I do that with clothes a lot, but never with interior things (not sure why!) So I own many on-line items I don’t particularly like.
        Ha! Argos. Will take a look at Dunelm Mill, thanks.

  4. Hi Sophie,
    Thank you for the post. I am like Denise, a lover of softer, subtle colors but that’s due to my personality. My daughter, on the other hand, loves your style which resembles hers and reflects her personality. I have a living room with two muddy grey/green linen sofas on oak flooring with wood furniture and I am itching to replace the neutral upholstery of the two armchairs next to them with a more interesting color. What would you suggest?

    1. Oooo good for you! Could I tempt you to add some pattern to the armchairs too? I think you should be pulled by your heart. Stay in within your soft and muted colour palette but when you talk about soft greeney greys, I think pale pinks and heathers would make the perfect partnership.

  5. Wow – I love all this stunning colour brought together! It seems in a lot of ways with the wall painting trend that we’ve lived in rooms of single tones and perhaps a colour accent on one wall.
    It’s wonderful to see creative colour popping back and in such bright and vibrant shades! Love your styling and it’s a real breath of fresh air!
    We used to go over to a store in Amsterdam called Peek & Kloppenburg (iirc) that was wall to wall colour. Pick up everything we could and bring back to to mauve and magnolia Britain. The store may have long gone but the colours and patterns have finally arrived!

    1. Hi Joe
      So pleased to (virtually) meet another colour lover. They are clever beggers those Dutch folk and like you I have always looked to them for inspiration. They are not afraid of being really creative with their interior design. Vt Wonen has always been one of my favourite magazines. Viva la Colour Revolution!

  6. Joy of joys! I adored Sophies flat…not unlike my own sitting room. This eclectic style is so comforting and has a lived in look that I think is lost with the minimalist look that has been around for the last few years. Dont get me wrong I love the LOOK but it appears very like a room SETTING as opposed to a place to live in. Welcome back colour and a bit of clutter and also a chance to be more individualistic…there is a certain sameness about so many rooms now,though I suspect with so many working mums they are easier to maintain.

    1. I’m glad you love my rather dishevelled and bohemian style! It certainly is a home I aim to create and actually I find this eclectic style can hide a multitude of sins for busy family life! (I was never one for hospital corners and coasters. ) The trend in interior design right now is to celebrate homes with individual style rather than buying into an identikit brand. And colour’s back baby!

  7. Hi Miriam
    Large room, lots of lights, architectural details, high ceilings! Dream. Come. True!!!! I love tese types of rooms as anything oes quite frankly. I think your electric blue would look amazing. However my inclination would be to maybe take it down a notch. Ultra is mega but might go too bright in the sunny room you describe. Get a tester of Smalt (also Little Greene) and you might find it has the Ultra effect you are after.
    Blue and white is a lovely combo- very classic. rather than brilliant white though consider a soft pale grey, just to softe the effect so its not too stark. I’d then be inclined to add some hints of Black and white geometric to this scheme. Always helps to smarten up a bright and eclectic interior and give it some sophistication. Finally the pink you talk of will look sensational with this colour- or you could consider my favourite accent colour, a pop of canary yellow.

    1. Thank you so much for the reply – I will look at Smalt too. We will probably mainly use the room in the evening (except at weekends) so I will see what works with electric light too. I am very excited by my room – it’s an absolute dream for me too so I want to do it justice! I love the idea of the soft grey and the black / white geometric – I was thinking of a black and white rug (a big one, Kate, if you’re reading!). I also need to replace the fireplace so am looking out for white and black marble.

  8. I can’t do it: it’s personality type (mine) but I just get agitated looking at all the colours pushed together. My sister, who looks fantastic in vivid colours in her clothing, would love this. I’m at the softer, more heather-y end of the spectrum in colour preferences, and I couldn’t cope with the riot of colour and pattern. Sophie’s bedroom would drive me nuts – even though I can see that it’s beautiful and beautifully thought-through.

    I think I’ll have to go and lie down in a magnolia new-build for an hour to calm my racing heart!

    1. Hi Denise!
      I totally feel your pain. Its just how Kelly Hoppen feels about having to stand next to me in all my colour glory. It makes her feel quite ill! What I adore about colour is we all have such different gut reactions- and we can all put togther our own unique colour palettes. I’m by no way a colour dictator- that’s why on my colour courses we look at all the colours and hues in the spectrum to produce your own personal palette.

      1. Sophie

        I suspect (it was on an empty stomach that I posted, so therefore a hugely unreliable gut instinct!), that I didn’t word it right – because I try not to lose consciousness out of boredom when I look at Kelly Hoppen rooms! You are actually entirely right. It’s about the right colours for the individual – I looked at your website and realised that I was overwhelmed by some colours and layouts, but that is what they are: individual preference, not in any way your diktat as to how I should approach colour.

        So I shall avoid painting my entire (new-to-me) Victorian flat in Ammonite by F&B and be braver with colour-all within my own soothing, softer shades, but with a Sophie-inspired tone.

        Thanks for the post – I also forgot to say in my original post that I do agree with you about your approach generally.


        1. Oh lovely Denise! Funnily enough I’ve got a sample of Ammonite grey right now that I’m looking at, but then again I’m intending to put a canary yellow sofa with it! What I love about design is it’s an opportunity for us all to explore our own preferences and styles. Good luck with your new home, it sounds like you’re going to make it look beautiful

  9. Thank you for this guest post – I love all your styling photos on Pinterest Sophie. I’ve just moved into a new house and am desperate for more colour. In the old house I had Downpipe which made all our stuff (including the kids stuff) look great, but I want to be bolder and braver for the new sitting room. I have a lot of wood furniture in that room and a pale oak floor, and a grey sofa, a pink lamp, and lots of other accessories and pictures to choose from (I’m not a minimalist…). Would electric blue (Little Greene’s ultra blue, specifically) work, on all 4 walls above the dado with either white or Railings underneath, or does a colour like that work better in smaller pops? It’s a big room, south facing, high ceilings, Victorian, with cornicing.

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