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How to embrace full-on colour and maximalist style

Jane Rockett and Lucy St George
Jane Rockett and Lucy St George Credit: Catherine Gratwicke

Energising reds, joyful yellows, calming blues… In their new book, decorating experts Jane Rockett and Lucy St George show you how to use colour to create just the right feel for every room 

Colour is emotional, so when you’re choosing shades for your home, it’s important to consider what they mean and how they affect you. Colour can make you feel happy and energised or calm and focused – and it’s important to decide which mood you want to create before getting started on a decorating scheme.

Everyone enjoys colours in different ways, but there are some fundamental rules that identify how particular colours affect our moods. Think about how different colours make you feel, then consider how to translate that emotion into your home to create the right space for you.

Red alert

Take care when using red in an interior: this colour energises and invigorates a space, so it has traditionally been used in dining rooms, where it can spark lively conversation. It might not work so well in a bedroom however, where it can make you feel agitated, rather than calm and ready for sleep.

Pink, although a tint of red, doesn’t share red’s associations with anger and passion, and is rather a colour that promotes tenderness. Pink has been a constant favourite as a decorative choice through the decades, and is extremely fashionable at the moment, particularly in its paler guises.

Soft, earthy pink hues work well in living rooms and bedrooms, where their warm undertones make you feel nurtured and safe. The brighter, more expressive shades of pink are great for making an impact and injecting energy into a space.

When you paint an entire room the same colour it can produce an incredibly calming effect Credit: Catherine Gratwicke

When you paint an entire room the same colour, as above, it can produce an incredibly calming effect. The cupboards, walls, ceiling and woodwork have been painted in shades of dusky pink, which contrast beautifully with the brass panels and green marble worktop of the island . 

In the library at El Fenn Credit: Catherine Gratwicke

In the library at El Fenn, a hotel in Marrakech (and bona-fide Instagram star), the warm tones of wood furniture  help to ground the candy-pink colour of the walls and velvet chairs, while the brass accessories add to the luxurious look.

Sunny yellows

This bright, creative colour can lift your spirits like a sudden ray of sunshine and is thought to encourage clear thinking and decision-making. It’s also associated with feelings of optimism, happiness and warmth.

Mustard yellows, which are currently on trend, work well when mixed with other earthy tones, while sandy shades are a good alternative to off-white for those who like things neutral. 

Yellow makes the perfect accent shade, in the form of an artwork, lamp or statement chair – and a splash of yellow in each room will create a decorative link throughout the house.

Yellow makes the perfect accent shade Credit: Catherine Gratwicke

Gold-toned wallpaper – Cranes in Flight by Harlequin (stylelibrary.com) – adds a note of warmth and glamour to this bathroom.

Cranes in Flight wallpaper by Harlequin (stylelibrary.com) Credit: Catherine Gratwicke

Going green

This is the most restful colour for the human eye, and is said to evoke feelings of balance, tranquillity and renewal. It’s also very versatile for decorating. With the current focus on sustainability, any shade of green feels right for now, from deep forest green (big news in kitchens at the moment) to soft sage.

 This London house has fully committed to green Credit: Catherine Gratwicke

Pale green creates a serene bedroom, while stronger emeralds and teals are good for making a statement in the hallway.

The owner of this London house has fully committed to green in all its shades, from the pea green of the kitchen units to the olive of the sofa, and the myriad colours of the many plants. Crisp white walls and neutral flooring make the perfect backdrop to this leafy vibe.

Crisp white walls and neutral flooring make the perfect backdrop to this leafy vibe Credit: Catherine Gratwicke

Teal has been used to very different effect in these two spaces: with a black-and-white scheme in the bedroom it has a poppy, ’80s-style punch, while paired with velvets in rich blues and greens it gives the sitting room a sophisticated, relaxing look.

A black-and-white scheme in the bedroom has a poppy, ’80s-style  Credit: Catherine Gratwicke
Velvets in rich blues and greens give the sitting room a sophisticated, relaxing look  Credit: Catherine Gratwicke

Blue notes

Like green, blue is associated with nature, invoking thoughts of the sea and clear summer skies, and is also said to promote productivity. It’s the coolest colour of the spectrum, but doesn’t necessarily result in a cold look, especially when used in deep, rich tones.

The bold blue of the walls, the pale lampshade and the patterned bedspread all work together in harmony  Credit: Catherine Gratwicke

Bright blues are a natural choice for an office, cobalt tiles are uplifting in a bathroom, and dark, dramatic inky shades, which make a great backdrop for artwork and decorative displays, create a restful living room.

This bedroom is another example of how choosing a single colour in a number of subtle variations can create a soothing, cohesive look: the bold blue of the walls, the pale lampshade and the patterned bedspread all work  together in harmony 

‘Extraordinary Interiors in Colour’ by Jane Rockett and Lucy St George, is out on Tuesday (Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99)

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