It is a measure of how slowly interior trends move that I first started saying about three years ago that the the so-called millennial pink would deepen and darken to a more brick or terracotta shade as the 70s revival gathered pace. And suddenly this week it felt as if that colour was jumping out at me everywhere I looked. I mention this also as a reassurance – while you may feel nervous about spending money on a fashionable item that might only last one season (I’m aware that that train of thought won’t apply to everyone) you can can relax a little when it comes to interiors. It seems that the god of interior trends understands that sofas cost more than sandals and is prepared to be appeased with fewer offerings spread over a longer period of time.
I will also caveat this with the oft-repeated assurance that you don’t have to follow trends and it’s far better to buy an item you love and with which you are prepared to commit to a long-term relationship – for sustainability if nothing else – than buying lots of high fashion items which you want to chuck out a short while later.
But trends aren’t all bad. After all, no-one is forcing you to buy into them and they can help you to look at things with fresh eyes. If you were there the first time round you’re probably not leaping platform sandals first back into a look, but it will have been freshened up since the last time. There might be a new textile or colour combination that makes it seem new and more interesting. Of course, it’s designed to make you spend more money, but if you’re able to resist that it might also help you to see your space with fresh eyes. To create a new take on what you have already simply with the addition of a new colour or material.
In short, there are no right or wrong answers here. You like a trend you take it, you hate it you leave it. But, as I said, I have been drawn to terracotta this week. Perhaps because I have painted my own brick wall in a brick red shade and I’m still squinting at it through half-closed eyes wondering if it was the right thing for me. I like the colour. I like the idea. Maybe it’s the right colour in the wrong place. It may be the other way round – we have some leftover navy blue from the bathroom up and and I’m also squinting at that and wondering if that would be better….
I have also included a range of colours from burgundy to brick here all of which are related to the aforementioned millennial, or blush, pink but which have been paired with different colours which may make them feel more modern to you depending on your era! You can see also how this colour has been used in not just different colour combinations but in different materials too.
I cannot stop gazing at the top image where the brick red and burgundy have been teamed with sludgy mud colour – let’s call it clay – which knocks back the high contrast vibrancy of both shades and creates a space that is rich and intense but also tonal and, for me relaxing. This is the picture that makes me want to redecorate.
But in the image below Sophie Rowell, of the wonderful interiors consultancy Côte De Folk, has used seven different fabrics to create this wonderful sofa blending a mix of stripes in different widths and shades but always within a tight colour palette. She has set it against plaster pink walls which draws out the deeper shades and provides the perfect backdrop – trust me that this would have much less impact against an off-white wall. And now I want to reupholster my sofa as well as repaint the room.
In the next picture Lucinda Chambers, former fashion director at Vogue, now designer, consultant and co-owner of Collagerie, has coated her walls in a rich shade of red, accented again with brown but this time more of a chocolate than a clay, against which the mint green cushions really stand out.
Now, creating a palette of red, brown and green might not feel immediately obvious, or even appealing come to that, but imagine those mixing machines you see in music studios (or, like me have seen on the telly) and imagine sliding the red up to the blue end to create a pinkier shade while the brown goes in the same direction and the green moves away from a yellow based olive to become more minty and you can see that all of those colours – while different – have a similar underlying blue tone to them so they work as a team. Taking it in the other direction you might have had a more brick shade of terracotta, an olive green and more of a mud/clay shade. Would still have worked, would have looked completely different. So if you’re wondering about mixing colours do try and work out what the base shade is and pick colours that share it – some paint charts will explain this for you.
This is sort what you get in the image under that with the peachy pink walls and orange flower tiles. The wood is a paler and warmer colour (think honey) while the green has been replaced with a warm cream shade. If you wanted to add green in here you could replace that white with an olive green and you would have a similar basic palette to Lucinda’s sitting room – red, green and brown but simply by changing the base shade from blue to yellow the overall effect is completely different. And while colour experts would say it’s more nuanced than this – it is – but I hope this gives you a rough sense of how it works and explains why you may have picked a colour palette that didn’t work and you couldn’t see why.
In the bathroom above the pink mosaic tiles take on a stronger hue when used over a large area like that and proves once again, if it needed proving, that pink is a friend of all greens from forest to mint via olive and emerald. The latter feels very Wes Anderson and you may feel that that that, as a combination has reached its peak although Dorothy Draper (1889-1969), the doyenne of Hollywood Regency style might take issue with you as a) she was using those colours together long before Wes and b) it’s still going strong. I have tended towards more foresty shades with the many pinks in my home but feel it’s only a matter of time before an olive makes an appearance…. basically I need it to be a bit less hot and I need to have a little more energy, so don’t necessarily hold your breath to see it, but in my head my bathroom is now painted in a similar shade to the bathroom cupboards above.
Moving to furniture and the rust red velvet armchair would be surprisingly versatile – above it sits with a soft pink and a pale clay but it would like charcoal and navy, or you could go full saturation and use orange or a matching terracotta shade. And don’t forget the greens. You could also put it against a cream wall and add a sofa in a paler version of the chair and another chair in a pattern that combined both shades.
In the bedroom above it has been cooled down with a chalky blue blanket and, just seen, a patterned rug that mixes both colours together. This time it’s pale wood instead of dark. Below, this is actually red and white stripes but, viewed from a distance, the effect is pink and the stripes contrast beautifully with pale green leafy wallpaper.
There are so many ways to mix colour and pattern that as long as you understand a few basics (and insist on using only colours and patterns that you love) you won’t go wrong. I hope this post inspires rather than scares and shows you that there are myriad options out there and with a little bit of bravery, experimentation and willingness to try you will find the right one for you.
We’ll finish with this burgundy kitchen by Devol. I’m adding it as a marker really – we haven’t seen many burgundy kitchens as yet but I’m going to remind you of this in a couple of years when there are lots of them and add that if you’re doing your kitchen now you would be ahead of the curve if you went with this colour. I’m also going to add that mixing it with white walls would be too high contrast and a soft plastery pink with a dollop of brown will create a much richer, tonal colour palette.
All of which leads me back to my own brick wall where I know the issue is that the red is too much of a contrast with the walls but this is The Mad Husband’s domain and he ain’t going to want it all pink…I would also add that it’s a little paler than this IRL (as they say).