A guide to using colour in every room of your home, by interior experts

·5-min read
Photo credit: Left: Colefax and Fowler, Right: Country Living
Photo credit: Left: Colefax and Fowler, Right: Country Living

The colour palette in your home is one of the most impactful design decisions you will make. Countless studies have revealed the positive psychological and physical benefits of using colour, from encouraging productivity and alertness, to helping you drift off at night, as well as the pitfalls of using colour incorrectly.

"Lockdown has left us analysing every element of our lives and particularly our homes, with many wanting to create uplifting spaces. Paint is the simplest way to transform a room, it’s simple and easy. Never make the mistake of thinking your home is finished, it evolves as life unfolds," says Martin Waller, founder of Andrew Martin.

Shades of red for a rich setting

Photo credit: L: Colefax and Fowler, R: Pooky
Photo credit: L: Colefax and Fowler, R: Pooky

Red is a deceptively versatile hue for the home, pillarbox reds can be energising and glossy as a feature wall, deep burgundy is moody and romantic in a bedroom, or a spicy orange-toned red can evoke a mediterranean scene. "It’s important to consider the lighting in a room when painting it a colour such as red," says Camilla Clarke, Creative Director of Albion Nord. "This colour takes on slightly different tones throughout the day and the seasons. It’s vibrant and fresh in the morning, cosy and rich in the evening."

Red is a great choice for darker rooms, instead of trying to artificially lighten such a room with colour, embrace a moodier theme and opt for deep tones. Opt for a rich burnt red like the Primer Red from Annie Sloan. "Primer Red is particularly inviting in shadowy rooms without much natural light," says founder, Annie. "This intriguing, inviting tone – somewhere between terracotta and burgundy - combines beautifully with warm neutrals and hints of brass and gold."

Calming earthy hues

Photo credit: L: Albion Nord, R: Carpetright
Photo credit: L: Albion Nord, R: Carpetright

"Our favourite hues to use in an interior are muted tones which create calm and soft spaces," says Camilla. "We love to use earthy colours such as greens, ochres, chocolates, and cream design schemes. Greiges/fawn colours are very good neutrals that create warmth in a room but allow you to layer and contrast in front with colour and tone."

She suggests embracing a multitude of brown shades to create a quiet and sophisticated sanctuary. 'Try and avoid colours that wash into each other. Brown shades should be complemented with fresh tones such as creams and whites to counterbalance their richness. It’s all about contrasts when using a variety of brown shades in a room. If you’re using furniture and art with similar hues, it should stand out from its backdrop to create interest."

Pick a soft, creamy base for your floors and walls (like the Country Living Zanzibar Wool Carpet at Carpetright,) and go for antique furniture in rich woods like a mahogany or walnut.

Bold blues

Photo credit: L: Andrew Martin, R: Country Living
Photo credit: L: Andrew Martin, R: Country Living

"The boldness and warmth found in blue will continue to be prominent in our homes. Darker colours form a much better background for paintings and artworks than white," says Martin Waller.

Blue is a brilliant shade for a bold monochromatic scheme, but if you're hesitant about an all-over blue, Martin suggests starting small. "Start your transformation in a cloakroom or small bedroom, since richer colours work well in such spaces, despite the accepted wisdom that white paint makes a room seem larger."

Yellow for an uplifting interior

Photo credit: L: Annie Sloan, R: Country Living
Photo credit: L: Annie Sloan, R: Country Living

The cheeriest of colours for a happy home. We're fans of a deep, saffron yellow used in abundance across living room and bedroom walls to create a is warm and cosy scheme.

"For a living room, the use of yellow can create a mellow and uplifting interior all at the same time. It transports us back to long lazy sun-drenched days in the Mediterranean and it can brighten us up on gloomy days," says Martin Waller. "It works brilliantly with blues, teals, greens and reds, and for real crisp freshness use with white. But if you want to opt for tones such as grey, this will help create the illusion of space."

Classic country green

Photo credit: L: Tom Howley, R: Carpetright
Photo credit: L: Tom Howley, R: Carpetright

A classic country colour, green can sit happily in most rooms in the home, as a moody hue in a study or living room, or a fresh avocado shade in a kitchen.

"Green kitchens are having something of a moment right now," says Tom Howley, Design Director of the eponymous kitchen makers. "As a colour we associate primarily with nature, this grounding shade has an incredible way of reconnecting us with our surroundings, creating moments of calm and positivity."

An earthy olive is a chameleon of a colour, Annie Sloan's Olive being a great example. "It can be a neutral, dropping into the background or it can be the shining star of a colour scheme," says Annie, "it’s warm, earthy, and mutable - a useful colour and real hidden gem. It’s a classical shade, but also works as an anchor for a cool 1950s mid-century modern colour palette when paired with harvest golds, oranges and pale blues."

Dark and dramatic black

Photo credit: L: Tom Howley, R: Paint & Paper Library
Photo credit: L: Tom Howley, R: Paint & Paper Library

"Dark and dramatic paint colours such as black have a way of adding ambience and sophistication to a space. Dark shades can come across as intimidating; however, it’s in the way you use them that changes the feel," says Tom.

A black and white kitchen makes for a classic pairing. "Used on the main run of base and wall cabinetry, dark colours can look luxurious and courageous while still having a timeless, intimate appeal. If you’re not feeling as brave, then combine dark paint shades with a green accent or a classic neutral like soft whites for a balanced look that still has an impact,” says Tom.

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