It’s Spring! For many of us this is the season for freshening up our homes with a lick of paint. But which colour?
Making colour decisions can be stressful. After all, there’s no limit to your choices if you’re prepared to mix your own. Even if you limit your options with a paint chart, you still have hundreds of hues to choose from. Which is why so many of us, overwhelmed with a whole spectrum of choice, listen to colour ‘rules’ when it comes to interior décor – we want to make sure we’re not going to mess it up! The irony is, so many of these rules are not only confusing, they’re downright wrong, and following them can mean missing out on a stylish, inviting home.
Here are my five colour rules worth breaking – and why it pays to be naughty…
1.Blue and green should never be seen
Many people firmly believe this is an absolute interior design rule that you break at your peril. But in the colour combo’s defense, I give you three little words: trees, sky, sea. If it’s good enough for Mother Nature…
“I think the historical reason for this rule is because blue and green are similar in tone and need to be broken up a bit with some contrast,” says Jessica Buckley from Jessica Buckley Interiors. “I adore blue and green together - particularly with lots of white (for the aforementioned contrast) and then adding in another colour such as pink or yellow.”
2.Ceilings must be white
Absolutely not, says interior designer Russell Whitehead from 2 Lovely Gays: “Ceilings are the great forgotten space in so many homes across Britain. For so long people have been concerned about space and light. But now we are getting more interested in 'atmosphere' too - how a room makes you feel. We love to paint with colour or even wallpaper ceilings (see pic of 2 Lovely Gay’s hallway papered with their wallpaper design for Graham and Brown) because it can create such a wonderful vibe in a space.”
Interior designer Lee Broom has his own take on incorporating a ceiling into a colour scheme: “Paint the ceiling the same colours as the walls. Nobody ever wants to, but in fact it makes the room feel bigger, instead of marking the space between walls and ceiling by having them in different shades.”
3.Choose only two colours per scheme
“Once you have found two colours that go really well together it can be tempting to leave it at that - and there’s nothing wrong with this approach per se,” explains Jessica. “However, by introducing a third – or fourth – colour into a decor scheme you will see the room develop more of a personality. In the case of a blue-and-white scheme, for example, you could add bright pink (a personal favourite), red or emerald green. Adding that extra colour will instantly give the scheme a new direction.”
4.Walls should contrast with woodwork
Painting skirting with white gloss paint, whether your walls are neutral or a brighter hue, is a traditional approach. But a more modern method is now to continue your wall colour through to the skirting, and - if you’re in a period property - your picture rail and cornicing. “Painting the woodwork in the same colour as the walls is a good trick for keeping things looking streamlined and unfussy - this is particularly good in smaller rooms or if you have a room with lots of doors or window frames,” says Jessica.
You could even use the lightest colour on the walls, and a darker tone on woodwork – an interior designer’s trick for giving the impression of more light and space.
5.Pink is for girls
This colour rule was dreamed up by marketing departments – in Victorian times pink was actually perceived as a ‘boy’s’ colour, as it is the paler form of ‘manly’ red. This beautiful pink-walled mid-century-influenced room, designed by 2 Lovely Gays, is just one of many examples of pink being used to create an elegant, refined and gentlemanly effect.
“Don't even get us started on this one!” exclaims Russell. “Why are people obsessed with gendering colour? It makes no sense - it's a modern invention. Pink makes the most stunning backdrop for other colours. We often use it as a new twist on neutral.”
I hope I’ve helped prove that when it comes to interior design there ARE no rules – except that you should choose a scheme that YOU love. Happy decorating!