Monday Inspiration: Colour Soaked Spaces

Now before we start: a word on the virus. I feel that you come here for escapism, for home decorating advice and chat, and to see things you might want for your own homes and to be inspired. I also feel that for some of you right now that will feel inappropriate and wrong. I’m not a scientist or a doctor so I’m not bringing my opinions on what is happening to this space, but I completely understand that many of you will not want to visit during this time as you might find it trivial. And just because I choose not to discuss it doesn’t mean I don’t think about it – I’m a journalist aka an information sponge. However, I am also aware that if we’re going to be spending more time at home then we need to find things we can do and read and learn to pass the time. In addition, many of you are older and may enjoy this as a place to hang out and chat about lovely things that aren’t scary. And, let’s be honest, if we’re going to be in more then maybe now’s the time to sort out that cupboard or repaint that room… so for those of you that continue to visit, how about we really get into the comments? Let’s check on each other’s health and chat and look after each other’s mental health and well-being while feeling calmed and inspired by the art of the home. Some of you will live alone and some of you will live with people who couldn’t give a monkey’s about the colour of the walls (I mean really?) so here is that space. Be kind, be nice and let’s look out for each other. 

Onwards: I wanted, this week, to look at some deeply colour saturated rooms. While I may not use lots of different shades in one room – tending to variations of around three with an occasional fourth thrown in – that’s not to say that I don’t love deeply colour soaked rooms. And here are some that I found this week.

green walls and window via @parkandoakdesign
green walls and window via @parkandoakdesign 

I love this soft green  – try Green Smoke by Farrow & Ball for something similar – and while it’s an unusual space you can see how painting the window and the alcove all the same shade has made the space feel calmer and more unified and perhaps larger (we can’t see the rest of the room to be sure about that). And who doesn’t love a window seat? I haven’t seen the new Little Women film and only read it once years ago but I remember (and it’s possible I have misremembered) a scene where Jo takes a handful of apples and a book and goes up into the attic to read in peace and quiet. It’s pretty much the only thing I remember about the book but it has always stayed with me and a window seat is one of my fantasy home dreams. Do share yours below.

Note also that this room has a simple colour palette but look at the different textures – leather sofa, velvet chairs, cushions with flowers, stripes and damask style patterns. The square pouffes next to the round tables. These are all things you can be looking at in your own homes at the moment and seeing what works and what you might be able to move around from other rooms to change things around or improve the spaces.

green walls and pink pop via @susana_ordovas
green walls and pink pop via @susana_ordovas

Staying with green and this gorgeous room, again not many colours, but look how the emerald green bedside chest looks so wonderful against the paler green wall. This is a look I love and also one that you can recreate if you have, or buy, an old pine table or piece of furniture from Ikea that isn’t so special you need to keep it. I wrote about painting furniture here if you have a bit more time to hang around. I have used a similar colour blocking style in my sitting room where the chocolate brown sofa matches the walls but for those of you who prefer paler walls then consider making the sofa the bolder version of the wall colour. It will look amazing.

wallpaper and gold ceiling via @susana_ordovas
wallpaper and gold ceiling via @susana_ordovas

Above is a room that is again only three colours but they are all contrasting. I’m guessing that most people would have done the wallpaper and the furniture and left the ceiling white and I appreciate that there is white in the wallpaper but look how much better it is with the gold emphasised instead. And you could have done this with either a matching yellow – try Yellow Pink from Little Greene (shown on this link with dark grey and a hint of white as well) or even a full on metallic gold  – this is the one on my office ceiling from Mylands.

ribbon art by @angelachrusciakiblehm
ribbon art by @angelachrusciakiblehm

Staying with grey I just found this room really joyful with its candy pink table (again you could paint a table) and the yellow accents round the edge of the screens and on the table. Angela makes these ribbons from wood and paints them although her site doesn’t seem to be working for now but you might be able to contact her if you wanted one. Here’s another one hung in a different direction on a paler wall.

ribbon art by @angelachrusciakiblehm
ribbon art by @angelachrusciakiblehm image by @liminalcollective 

Back to the colour and this is still mostly grey and pink although it’s so different from the first one. This has everything I like in a room – vintage furniture, a Persian rug – just look at those colours – and deep dark walls. But I love how the painted cabinet lightens the space as does the nude in the painting and yes there is, of course, a massive window. These are all things you have to consider if you want to paint a room dark but again, with just three colours, this is a gorgeous room and I’d quite like to steal the rug. The dog’s nice too.

dark walls and persian rug via @white_rabbit_living
dark walls and persian rug via @white_rabbit_living

And finally, more pink but paler this time, more grey – in the form of marble and picture frames- so it’s the other way round in terms of colour ratio. Here the third colour is wood – in the room – and that glimpse of green on the door outside, picked up in the flowers on the table, which I appreciate you might not have all the time but you could put a plant there.

This apartment has now been sold but you can see more of it here.


Now I don’t know about you but I love all this week’s rooms. What about you? Anyone inspired to make changes?


Tags : colour soakedcolour soaked spacesdeep coloursmonday inspirationsaturated colour
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. Good minds think alike! I went out to buy paint this morning from the local trade paint shop. I thought if I’m going to be in isolation I may as well keep calm and decorate. When I arrived there was a queue out the door, I’ve never seen it so busy. Please no stockpiling paintbrushes people!

  2. Thanks Kate, I come here for escapism anyway and it is especially necessary at the moment. It’s been a bit of a rubbish twelve months for us – I’m having quite bad mental health difficulties in response to climate change and environmental issues. It came on suddenly and took over my life. I’ve been trying very hard to keep it under control but then my husband was made redundant three weeks ago. We’ve been trying to stay positive and keep applying for jobs but I imagine this will now be a long term situation as the economy is affected. We won’t have the money to do any DIY but coming here still gives me inspiration for the future, and that keeps me more hopeful. Thinking about creative ideas is a good break from more worrying thoughts and I feel refreshed by it. I’ve been trying to keep positive and think about what I can do to help the vulnerable people in my community but that still involves thinking about the current situation and everybody needs to have a break from that every now and then. So thanks for your blog, you have no idea how much comfort and relief I get from sitting down and having a read and letting my mind wander through the possibilities. You come across as a very genuine person and I know it can be hard to know what to say right now, with people jumping on you no matter what you do, but I think you’ve struck exactly the right tone. Please don’t stop because these little moments of fantasy and happiness are keeping us all going right now.

  3. Well said Kate. It’s all very surreal so I’m cleaning, kinda Marie! and painting. I can’t listen to the awful stories any more. I’ve reached saturation point. I just feel so helpless.
    So…. music, reading, painting and little projects I’ve been putting off for so long.
    And reading your posts… yes… keep going. It’s great escapism during these frightening times.
    I clicked to have a look at that Apartment … it’s abs stunning … stay safe with the mad husband n sons 👍

  4. I agree – with everyone else. We do need to have lovely things to look at and be inspired by at this time. Thank you for being there for us. I am going to change the colours on the kitchen and dining area walls – just made up my mind!

  5. I really enjoy your posts and they are a lovely moment of escapism – please don’t stop! We have changed our basement flat from off-whites to dark colours. Works much better than trying to bounce (non existent) light around! Your thoughts that a hallway should be welcoming and give a good feel for your home were very good – we painted ours dark red and bought a chaise to sit on while taking off shoes instead of hopping about the hall. My object of desire would be to change one of the doorways into a secret doorway bookcase. One day …

  6. You don’t need to make excuses! I live in New York, and everything in my life seems to be shutting down–university adult-ed classes, libraries, theatres, get-togethers with friends, restaurants, bars. Please don’t take away my daily lift from the Mad House!! As far as I’m concerned, beauty is never trivial. Keeping our living spaces lovely gives so much happiness–to ourselves and others as well.

    BTW re window seats: I had two built flanking a fireplace, and it turns out my husband and I NEVER use them. I’m not sure they’re ever very comfortable. They look great, though!

  7. Thank you for the very thoughtful post. I think a lot of people who don’t normally suffer from mental health issues are going to be hit in these times. We all need to escape from it and think of other things. Keep up the good work.

  8. Hi Kate. I think your comments have hit precisely the right note. These are dark times, but we all need some light relief and all the better if that relief brings us both beauty and inspiration we can bring to our own homes. Just reading your blog and looking at the great images will be uplifting. If we can use the extra time at home to beautify our environments, we can help maintain and perhaps, even improve our physical and mental health. Keep up the good work!

  9. Wonderful sentiments and images Kate and lovely to read so many positive comments. Totally agree with you about window seats, there’s something so peaceful about sitting in them. We created our own by putting a blanket box next to the window of the dormer alcove in our attic. I love sitting up there on a summer evening looking out over the treetops

  10. I don’t always comment, but you have made such a great comment regarding our mental health. I DO come to your world to escape. As a retired photographer, I am constantly amazed and impressed by the lovely images you find to post. My walls are all “alabaster” by Sherwin Williams, but I love, LOVE the boldness of the dark, moody interiors you feature. I look so forward to Fridays with your real estate finds.
    If you were to come to my home, you would find a deceptively organized, clean space…but there are secrets everywhere. I am taking this time of “social distancing” to really clean. When was the last time I dusted those bookshelves? Have I ever moved that big 10 foot long leather couch to clean behind? Should I change out those air-filters? Wonder what it looks like behind my W/D units. Why do I still have that box of donations sitting on my laundry room floor, when I can go to the drive thru at Goodwill.
    All of those questions have gone through my mind as I start my first week of staying home. My dogs are thrilled to see my husband and I stay home. They are being walked at least once a day.
    My hope is that each of us stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Thank you for your inspiring posts. They reveal a talented inquisitive mind. Thank you.

  11. The pink table with the polka-dot bowls made me smile. Mental health is as important as physical health so having lovely blogs to visit will do us a world of good.

  12. Home is going to be increasingly our sanctuary. So we desperately need your daily pearls of wisdom!

    I plan to use my time rationalising my space, clearing out the clutter, my garden will never have looked more beautiful, and painting in my reorganised art room.

  13. Just thank-you. Love reading the posts & definitely need to think about something other than the virus!

  14. At the moment I am creating a ‘to do’ list of things in case I have to self-isolate or my workplace closes (I work in a school in the UK). I am making the list a combination of spring cleaning (not fun but really need doing), finishing DIY jobs (will be great when they are done) and fun things (making the cushions I have been procrastinating about for a while). I also find gardening very therapeutic so will be aiming to get out in the garden to prepare properly for spring.

  15. Completely agree, Kate, with all your sentiments about this being a vital escapism during a time of doom and gloom (not to underplay anything). And your choice of rooms is as ever wonderfully uplifting – I particularly love the combo of Persian rug and plants plus dog and dark walls. Yummy! As one who’s livelihood has suddenly been cut to zero thanks to the closure of arts institutions I’m trying to make the best of things with all those long-put-off house and garden things – the Roman blinds, redoing the pantry and frivolous activities too, such as papering the back of the glasses cupboard in lovely wrapping paper from Cambridge Imprint … possibly all a bit meaningless in the greater scheme of things but for me eminently satisfying.

  16. Well said! And absolutely love this site please keep going as I find it inspirational. Take care of yourself. Oh and I do LOVE the pale green room with the pink velvet cushion and emerald green side table; it’s gorgeous.

  17. Thank you for addressing ‘the unmentionable’. I feel slightly disturbed by bloggers who don’t even mention it, as if nothing is happening. We simply cannot carry on as normal.
    Your blog provides a break, and a pause for happy thoughts. Keep going, we need you!

  18. TOTALLY relevant! This too shall pass and life must go on. I enjoy reading your post so much and they have been a big influence on my husband and me. We are, as I write, painting his study Payne’s Grey by Craig and Rose. All walls and ceiling as well. It is double aspect and has a long f#~*off LED light down the middle of the ceiling when you REALLY need to see what you are doing. Also good small lights of various types all around the edges for “pools” of light. He is calling it his “man cave” and is loving it already. I feel that this time we are all going to have “at home” when we are forced to collectively sit and think about the state of the world, while horrible while we are going through it, may be the saving of us all in the long run. PLEASE keep doing what you do.

  19. Just keep on posting – nothing you write about is “trivial” but interesting and relevant to our lives. We are in isolation – we need your posts now especially. Thank you for everything you do to keep us informed and up to date on design trends. Your concerned post today is heartwarming.

  20. Yes, I’m with the ‘lemonade out of lemons’ school of thinking. Have been raiding garden centres and ordering paint all week. There’s not much to do inside my house (apart from all those odd jobs & proper housework) so I’m creating the most over-the-top flamboyant garden possible…..and that includes painting all the garden furniture and pots !!
    Pls keep posting – this is my favourite escapism.

  21. First thing I do most days is read your post, often at 7.01am! The reason my kitchen is now pink and green is down to your influence. My loo ceiling and walls are all one blue colour, again down to you. As one of your ‘older’ readers the coming months will be scary and we’ll be at home a lot of the time. So we have already decided which parts of the house to decorate but I now have to persuade him indoors we need new colours! I’ll show him your instagram – that should do the trick!

  22. Take heart! Help is on the way. Here in Manitoba where the Ebola vaccine was developed, scientists are busy working with plasma from recovered Covid-19 patients to create anti-viral meds and perhaps a vaccine.

  23. For years, I have thought I couldn’t live without a bit of red in every room but recently I have been gravitating towards green. Love that first room. I am busy planning an entire flat redecoration project following some electrical work that has left channelling in marks everywhere and green will feature heavily. For now, it might have to all remain in my head – uncertain times, financially – but this space, your books, and the like are all beautiful inspiration along the way. Thank you.

  24. Please please please do keep posting! It is one of the few things that keep me sane at the moment with these work and school from home days.
    And I bought paint to redecorate my living room while we are stuck at home! Yay!!
    Thank you for your blog and all the ideas.

  25. Thank you Kate, escapism indeed. I think interiors chat is the perfect antidote so please keep posting. I’m planning many projects and your posts challenge my creativity.

  26. Thank you Kate. This is definitely one of my happy places so please do continue amid the strange situation we are in.

    The soft green shade of the first image is a perfect color for the seating nook in the house for sale last Friday. And that lovely striped sculpture on the wall over the fireplace is perfect and much more graphic against the white wall. Love it!

  27. I’m delighted to escape here with you from time to time. Thank you. I saw a woman buying decorating supplies yesterday in my local shop – and it’s a good idea, using this time to do those jobs. Maybe I’ll paint the other pine cabinet to match the one I did three years ago!

    1. Thanks Kate I just love this blog and its kept me going at difficult times, before this

  28. I look forward to your daily blogs so please keep them coming, they are a lovely distraction and always inspiring.

  29. Such a great post Kate. Feel just the same way. We need a variety of content. And some beauty and visual inspiration to balance the science and debate and worry. As we’re likely to be at home more over coming weeks I think social media will become more important, veritably our wonderful interiors community which is so so supportive and kind. I’ll continue with anticipation reading your posts, as will many I’m sure, that’s something you do not need to worry about! Thank you for all you do x

  30. Dear Kate
    Thank you for bringing hope and a sense of “norm” to my life. I am a hospital doctor and the next few months will be challenging , physically and emotionally. Some escapism at down times is not only desirable but absolutely necessary to protect our mental health.

  31. I’m happy to have a break from the virus, and your post is wonderful escapism. Thank you 😊

  32. Thank you – please do keep posting – we need not only 5 portions of fruit and veg but also 5 -at least ! ‘fun’ things each day
    Interior inspiration is just the ticket

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