In this week’s podcast Sophie and I discuss not just the importance of choosing colours you love but working out how to find the right shade that works for you. This was sparked by a survey from our sponsor Topps Tiles into the link between colour and well-being and it quickly became apparent that while Sophie and both love pink, for example, our use of this colour couldn’t be more different.
As ever, you can listen to the show here (series 6 episode 2) and for those who have come from their preferred platform to this page, you will find pictures to illustrate what we talk about but, equally, this post works as a standalone so you don’t have to have listened to the show to, hopefully, find something worth reading.
Now we began by talking about The Red Thread, which I have written about before here and here, but in summary creating a cohesive look isn’t just about sticking to a colour palette in your home, it’s also about linking materials; stone, velvet, wood and metals as well as paying attention to the architecture of your house. Sophie has used tongue and groove panelling in each of her downstairs rooms from the green kitchen cupboards, to the white office storage and the pink shelves in the sitting room. That style works for her country farmhouse whereas my city Victorian terrace might want something less rustic and more period.
But first colour. Our sponsor Topps Tiles spoke to 2000 people about the link between colour and wellbeing and found that 71 per cent said that green and yellow made them feel well, energised and ready to exercise and eat well. In second place was white with blue also scoring highly.
However, when it came to colours that don’t promote health and well-being pink, orange and beige scored highly. Which is the complete opposite to the current trends and this is where the nuance comes in. Pink, orange and beige don’t sound very exciting. But how do you feel about blush, terracotta and ecru? Or coral, rust and linen?
Sophie painted her office white because as a colour-loving maximalist she thought it would provide the perfect backdrop to all her samples and swatches. But a year later her heart sinks when she has to go in there and work because she finds it utterly draining and uninspiring. Instead she wants to cover the walls in a vibrant wallpaper (House of Hackney Artemis Pink, as opposed to the more subtle blush) and add patterned rugs and a strong colour for the woodwork. She also painted her sitting room in a very pale pink in deference to her less pink loving husband and now thinks she could have got away with a stronger shade.
Now my office is already pink but a much softer shade. I could no more write in Sophie’s future office than fly to the moon. High contrast colours make her feel energised and excited and ready to work. They make me feel stressed and edgy. So I have pale pink walls, with pattern in the wallpaper, a tonal burgundy fireplace and matching pink chair. In such an environment I feel calm and inspired and ready to work.
So when you are choosing colours for your own home don’t dismiss orange or blue out of hand but look instead to see if there is a particular shade that can work for you. This is also a good tip when it comes to persuading a partner to agree to your plans. To take a stereotypical example, he may hate pink but that’s because when you say pink he sees bubblegum rather than the, perhaps, softer, almost mushroom shade that you had in mind.
The second key point to consider is how a particular colour makes you feel. As I said, Sophie thrives on high contrast and I hate it. This matters because if you find a particular shade energising you might not want to put it in a bedroom or a sitting room where you go to retreat at the end of a busy day. Save it instead for the kitchen or the office. It will not surprise you to know that on that basis. Sophie is pondering a yellow kitchen when she extends her house. She already has a daffodil yellow door (see above). I, on the other hand, have no yellow in the house apart from the gold rings on my fingers.
So take the time to work out your reaction to colours to create a palette that promotes your own well-being and makes you feel the way you want to feel in each room.
In addition to the red thread – mine being pink and velvet and Sophie’s being yellow and tongue and groove panelling we also spoke about the current mania for panelling walls that is all over Instagram. Don’t worry if you don’t do instagram, you can just take my word for it.
Panelling dates back to the 13 century (probably even further) and was used as a way to prevent the damp coming through the stone walls – before plaster was invented – as well as to make those cold unheated buildings warmer It continued right up until the mid 21st century when it was no longer needed as a damp proofing mechanism although many 60s houses still clad their walls in wood rather than the more intricate beaded panelling beloved of the Georgians and Victorians.
Should you do it? It’s a tricky one. Sophie feels that it can add character to a boring room whereas I feel if the house is too modern then you should find other ways to add personality. If you live in a period home then yes it’s easier to get away with. It’s up to you if you match period to house or not. I feel it might be odd to add Georgian panelling to a Victorian house as it’s chronologically wrong but Edwardian feels like it’s going in the right direction. I wouldn’t do either in a house built after the 1950s but would, instead, try to create something contemporary that isn’t trying to be something that it isn’t.
It’s a rough guide but that’s probably all you need. In her country farmhouse, Sophie has opted for tongue and groove as a more rustic way of adding character to rooms with low ceilings where a Victorian chair or picture rail would chop the walls up even more and make the ceiling look even lower.
Perhaps some of these images will help you decide. Be aware though that if you do live in a period property the walls probably aren’t straight and nor are the floors so you need to be sure you can get any panelling to line up as well as fill and caulk all the bits where it doesn’t touch the wall and then paint it. Because there is one thing for sure – any panelling or cladding you apply needs to look like it came with house in the first place.
With thanks, as ever to Topps Tiles, for their sponsorship of the show.