Changing your mind: can you bear to paint over it? Thursday, Oct 6 2011 

Firstly, I realise I have been a ‘bad blogger’ and vanished for a large period of time.  This is because I’ve got a proper job again (Marketing Director for another global firm) which has fairly much eaten up my life.  The good part of that is an influx of funds, and also new ideas as I’m exposed to new environments (hotels, offices, overseas travel) and new ways of doing things.

Of course, this means that some things I’ve already done, I rethink.

This for example:

It’s very dramatic and glowing.  But I felt in the mood for something more conservative (maybe I’m wearing a suit too much?) and restrained.  So, to the horror of the man, I just set to and painted over it without a second thought.

Somehow, a couple of years after I’ve completed the original project, I lose all attachment and am willing to obliterate my original efforts.  in this instance, I wanted to keep the panelling effect to enliven the featureless stairwell, but I wanted to tone down the red.

It took me about an hour to mask off the darker bands.  And another hours to roller on a faux stone effect.  I used household emulsion paint in two colours – a mid grey and an offwhite.  I poured half and half into a roller tray, and ensuring I dipped the roller the same way each time, I rolled it on using random and rough strokes.

The secret is to be bold, don’t go over the area too many times or it will blend into nothingness.  Have a brush handy to blend into the corners.  And ensure that you don’t get lines from the edge of the roller.  So, after two hours in total, my former travails were hidden and transformed into a new look.

It’s interesting how different it looks isn’t it?  The borders now appear burgundy, not blackish (see my post here on colour relativity theory!).  It appears much more classical and far less funky.  The panelling effect really breaks up the walls and adds interest to what would otherwise be a very functional and dark stair way.

Do you like it?  Or did you prefer the wild wonders of the red marble??

How to create a colour scheme for interiors Thursday, Feb 17 2011 

Over the years I’ve tried various colour schemes in my home.  I’ve painted my hallway a vibrant fuchsia pink, to see whether I found that an energising welcome.  My study has been a moody midnight blue, a sepia, antique khaki colour and a colour thrown by the clouds over the English sea….  I found my pink hall jarred.  It didn’t feel like me.  It felt brash.  I would have loved it in someone else’s house for an evening, but not after a hard day’s work.

I do think you only discover what you like by trying different things, and hopefully over time, you settle into your own style.

Colour is key.

The eye sees colour first.

How immediately the eye is drawn to the two red ‘o’s.  And that’s exactly what colour in a room will do for you.

Developing a colour scheme can seem daunting, but in fact there are number of easy ways to do this. 

The first way involves taking something that you like (a rug or a piece of fabric) and using that as the basis for your scheme.

blue red fabric colour scheme interior

This luscious fabric offers either a neutral oatmeal, or a sun-bleached blue as a base.  The base should make up around 50 – 70% of the room’s colour.  Then add 20-30% of the other colour.  The remaining accents will uplift the room as a contrast that picks up the fabric.  Using this fabric somewhere in the room means that it all looks pulled together, rather than random.

green pink fabric colour scheme interiors

Abundant greens, from sage to olive are a fabulous basis for a room, with rose-pink accents.  As these colours are on opposite sides of the colour wheel, they create a more energising look.  This is kept from being overwhelming by the muted shades.  however, bright pink together with bright green can really shout!   More on that, and how it reflects your personality here.

patchwork fabric colour scheme green pink sage

This patchwork offers a similar colour palette, but even more muted.  Whereas the fabric below takes the green shade over the border into blue – a soothing aqua colour.

A fabulous painting can provide a wonderful basis for a colour scheme, especially if that painting is a focal point of the room.

Henri Rousseau painting interior colour scheme

If you’re lucky enough to posses an Aubusson rug – the colours woven into those designs could inspire myriad rooms.  (whether or not you cut it up, as I did here…)

vegetable dye blue rug interiors colour scheme

If you don’t have some fabric, a rug, a painting, or something that is inspiring you… choose a colour that you like – really like.

Then you can either work with its opposites, or its cousins, depending on whether you want a soothing room, or one with a bit more visual impact.  Even strong colours, when paired with similar, are more restful than opposites.

 Another place to start (if you’re still struggling) is to decide on the mood you’d like to create and then work on colours that compliment that mood.  If you’re aiming for beachy and coastal – stick to a colour palette of aquas and sands.  A moorish, Moroccan look will rely on rich spice colours of nutmeg, scarlets and cinnamons.

Does your personality type influence your colour choice? Friday, Feb 4 2011 


colour wheel interior schemes decoration

Decorators and designers often refer to the colour wheel.  Well – here is the representation of one.  I like this one as it’s quite usable for interiors.

Basically the three primary colours (red, blue and yellow) cannot be mixed by any other colours.  They sit like a triangle in the wheel.  All other colours are mixed from a combination of two of these.  The mixtures are shown on the spokes between – red and yellow forming the oranges, blue and yellow the greens and red and blue mixing to create purples.

The simplest way to think about it is:

1. Colours from opposite sides of the wheel will add vibrancy to your room.  (purple and yellow, green and pink).  They will go together, and they will add spark.

2. Choosing colours that sit next to each other on the wheel are more restful.  Blues and greens and so on.

I’m developing a theory as to which appeals to who…. it seems to be that brighter colours, and opposites appeal to extroverts.  Introverts seem to prefer more muted and neutral colours.  Extroverts like a lot of stimulation and ‘noise’ from their environment, hence the desire for more colour.  

Introverts like to retreat inside themselves to relax – so that kind of ties in with a need for quieter colours.  Introverts find too much external stimulation tiring, whereas extroverts find it energising.

I have a degree in Psychology so I’m endlessly interested in this kind of thing.

What do you think?  Does this ring true for you?

How small pops of colour brighten an interior Wednesday, Jan 19 2011 

I had the good fortune to have lunch with Scott Weston the other day.  He is one of Australia’s top Architects and Interior designers.   Scott has an imagination and an attention to detail that defy belief.  There are so many ideas in his work, and lots of techniques and themes that can be used elsewhere.

I thought I’d share some of his amazing creations, and some of the lessons I’ve picked up.

scott weston fuschia pink stair carpet

If you absolutely love a strong colour – then why not use it for a stair carpet?  You only see it in transit (you don’t sit down to dinner or on a sofa and stare at it for hours) so you’re unlikely to tire of it.  And it really lifts an otherwise functional area.  It just makes this stair and landing pop!

scott weston internal drawers cupboard colour

One of Scott’s trademarks is his use of unexpected colour, particularly for interiors and hidden areas.  Every time you open a drawer or a cupboard there is a delicious surprise!  For those who like to live with muted colour or neutrals, this is a fun way of having some colour in your life.

scott weston tiled interiors pond and niche

Scott uses this technique to draw attention to focal points.  In this instance, a pond and tiled alcove in a courtyard.  It makes the area feel exciting and vibrant without the need for any extra decor.  A small amount goes a long way to brighten the whole area.

scott weston gold leaf pantry cupboard

Even the mundane is special and glamorous when glossed with gold leaf.  Here a pantry cupboard is slathered with it!  This is the home of the editor of Vogue in Australia, so you’d kind of expect something luxe!

Scott Weston felt lined drawersScott personally works on every little detail and it shows.  Drawers are divided into convenient sections and then lined with cobalt blue felt.  How I wish the interiors of my drawers look like this!  What utter joy I would feel on opening them every day.  Maybe I’m inspired?  Felt is such a brilliant idea as it’s easy to work with.

scott weston beading on light fringeEven lamps are carefully selected for colour and then trimmed with beading.

Scott actually makes models of all his projects.  Look at this utterly darling little doll’s house of a bedroom!  And once his client is happy, he creates the real thing for them. 

scott weston model for bedroom

Even shelves are constructed with colour singing on the wall behind – bringing the whole area to life.  This is such an inexpensive way to liven up a room.

 scott weston mauve behind shelves

Here a linear kitchen is hidden by a long curtain.  Don’t bother with the washing up and mess – just draw a veil over it.  Don’t you love that?

scott weston linear kitchen curtained off

This hair salon was designed by Scott and is a total fantasy for me.  I’m sure Marie Antoinette would have come here to have her hair done (although she may have had some issues getting all the way to Australia…)

scott weston hair salon design faux panels

I love that Scott isn’t afraid of colour.  It’s rare to see a designer use it in such proliferation.  And even if that isn’t your style, maybe his work has sparked some ideas for you?

scott weston moroccan seating

How to create restful grey bedroom colour schemes Sunday, Jan 16 2011 

 Grey bedrooms are hugely popular at the moment, and my post on shades of grey and how they look different to what you might expect has been one of the most read.

grey gray bedroom interior colour scheme

So here are some ways to make grey work for a restful bedroom scheme. 

Grey is strongly associated with flannel (remember the 1980’s aftershave Grey Flannel?  I had a boyfriend who wore it… sigh…) pinstripes, suiting, so using this association in a playful way can work well.  The bedcover above picks up themes of cashmere, flannel and pinstripes and still looks cosy and welcoming.

grey gray bedroom interior colour scheme

Darker greys, charcoals, head towards black – which can be a dramatic and sometimes sexy choice for a bedroom.  This will look best by lamplight, however.  if you spend a lot of time in your bedroom by day, you may find this depressing, rather than welcoming.  Make sure you have sheen on the wall, as a matt finish will suck the light out.  And a high white ceiling will work much better than a low one.

Alternatively combine it will lemon yellow (as below).  This will make it feel sunnier, although lamplight is still going to be the best light.

grey gray bedroom interior colour scheme

If you have wooden floors, a charcoal and chalk chequerboard design just looks stunning.  It will anchor a colour scheme of greys without making it too heavy.

black white grey gray  interior colour scheme chequerboard

If these feel too ponderous for you, or if you prefer lighter, brighter rooms, then head for the white end of the spectrum and use grey as an accent.  I love the monochrome mural below.  It looks so chic, and so timeless.

Whichever shade you pick, make sure you use a pattern somewhere to blend the grey and the white.  Either a bedcover (even stripes will do), or curtains.  This will stop it looking too officey or formal – neither of which you really want when you’re going to sleep.

For an opulent touch, highlight the grey with silver.  This brings bursts of reflected light and a sense of opulence.  I just love the panel behind the bed!

With a very simple grey scheme you can afford to mix up lots of pattern without it being overwhelming.  Stripes and checks work well below.  I love the way the colour of the wood furniture has been echoed in the fawn velvet cushions.

grey bedroom tartan stripes gray

Add a toile de jouy fabric into the mix and grey looks more feminine and girly, but without being frilly.  You can really layer patterns here without worrying about whether it goes – if it’s all black white and grey, you’ll be pretty much fine. 

grey bedroom toile  interior gray

In terms of art, black and white photos look magnificent in this scheme.  You could use landscapes, or, if you’re feeling daring – some tasteful nude photos!

With grey, you don’t want to go too plain.  The room below is bordering on feeling cell-like.  Grey needs layers of texture (flannel, cashmere, silk, linen), layers of pattern (stripes, checks, toiles) and art (photographs, murals) or antiqued and distressed accents to make it feel comfortable and relaxing.

grey bedroom black and white photos

Finally, if you love your art, you could go crazy!  As I mention here, behind the bed – there are no rules other than go HUGE!

black white grey bedroom art hang interior

How can I ensure my colour scheme doesn’t look dated? Thursday, Dec 9 2010 

Good question.  How can you ensure that a colour scheme doesn’t look dated? 

Remember avocado bathroom suites?

They were SO trendy when they first came out.  And now look at them….

Is it possible to decorate your home in a way that won’t look passé in a few years’ time? 

Take the chocolate-brown kitchen – something classic?  Well, this might be the modern take on it:

But this is my parent’s kitchen from the 1970’s.  I remember how proud they were of it.  And it doesn’t look classic at all!  (I can still remember Dad doing the grouting.)

1970's brown kitchen

That’s because even though the colours may be identical, the materials and styles have changed.  Dark tiles are shaped like subway tiles and have dark grout, rather than white.  The pattern on the blinds is not current – even the blinds themselves.

The bottom line is any house is going to need updating after 10-15 years.  As much as anything it will look tired and worn.  But you can get a look to last that long if you’re careful.

Firstly, if you really love the latest trends, and you get a rush from the new and the different, then it will be almost impossible for your home to be timeless.  Trends are just that – fads that come and go.  Be prepared to enjoy them and move on.  In the photo above are a number of things that will date including:  the L-shaped sofa, its very square shape and the chrome legs.  The free-standing shelf arrangement and coffee table will also look dated in  a few years.

But it looks very contemporary now.  So if that’s your thing, go for it, but be prepared for it to look very early 2000’s.

Including antiques and vintage furniture give a room much more of a sense of timelessness and means it will have more longevity.  By mixing up the styles of furniture you aren’t placing it in a single year or decade.  You’ll also give pieces more longevity, which is economical.  I also think you get more of a feeling of ‘home’ rather than showroom.

When choosing a colour scheme, choose neutral colours (which date far slower) for the pieces that are hard to change – such as sofas, wall coverings and curtains.  If you want to be slavish to fashion – then use cushion covers and accessories to introduce colour.  Then you can switch that easily as you tire of it or as something else comes into vogue.

In the room above, all of the elements giving the room its gorgeous mauve and lilac colour scheme are easily changeable.  Which means that in a few minutes, and without a large budget, you can have a blue room, or a silver metallic one.

When choosing colours or finishes, try to pick ones just coming in – such as the greys that I mention here, rather than ones that have already done five years and won’t have such longevity.  Above all, choose things that you LOVE.  Because then you won’t care so much about fashions.

Anyone else have photo’s of their parents’ house from the 1970s??

Future interiors: the next big trends in colour Wednesday, Dec 1 2010 

I can’t quite believe we’re entering the second decade of this century…  and of course, that means that it’s time for a change.  And change means that the old stuff looks dated.  So here are some tips, that when woven into your decor, will give bring your house bang up to date for another decade.

Firstly in terms of neutrals – cream and white, and even beige are becoming passé.  The new neutral is grey.

We haven’t seen grey in interiors for a while – but it’s HUGE.  We’re talking stone grey, dove grey, charcoal grey – almost any kind of grey.  If you still want beige, go for the grey end of the spectrum.  If you were thinking chocolate brown, try charcoal instead.  If you were tempted by a dark corduroy, go for a grey flannel or pinstripe.

Grey has been influenced by the huge amount of technology in our lives.  Stainless steel and chrome look great with it.  But so does antique wood.  it’s a fabulous background for our lives at the moment and it’s probably got about a decade to run – so this is a good way of updating your home that will last.

The other big news is metallic.  This reflects a number of trends:

A backlash against minimalism which at last has had its day (thank god – what a triumph of technology over taste that was!)

A desire for luxury

New paint technology that delivers great metallic finishes (until recently they were poor imitations)

Metallic is big in paint, in tiles, in fabrics.  Even rugs have glints of silver of copper woven through.  Choose carefully though – this one may have a more limited lifespan – years rather than decades.  If you love it then go for it as you’ll enjoy it.

Some of the newest accent colours are yellow, purple and orange.  These range from the acidic yellows, to deep aubergines and plum colours.

These look fabulous with grey.  There’s no surprise in that.

I love the softness of these colours, and the way you can dial them up with some really bright accessories that make a room pop.  There’s lots of room here for you to really personalise it.  And of course, that’s what a great room is all about.

Why colour looks different on your walls: part 2 Monday, Nov 1 2010 

My last post on getting the right colour on your wall had a lot of you talking, so here is the promised follow-up.

It really is true that all colour is relative.  Remember how you think your jeans are white until you go out into the snow – and then the blinding brightness of the snow makes them look a dirty off white?  Or how surely black is black, until you wear several items of black clothing together and find that they are all subtly different?

I’ll try to show you what I mean here.  Here are two blues:

Blue on walls

But you’ll feel like the one on the left is really purple.  Until you see it next to purple:

Blue versus purple

So now, you’ll admit that maybe that one is blue, it was the first colour on the right that was greenish grey.  So let’s look at that with a greenish grey..

Blue with grey green

This is one of the reasons that when you paint a colour on a wall it looks different from what you expect – because of the colours that surround it.

It is also the reason why it is incredibly hard to work out whether you like a colour on a wall when you paint a bit on – you are automatically judging it next to the current colour of the wall.  The wall will look different when you can’t see any of the old colour as comparison.

Basically all colour is relative (to its surrounding).

Some ways to make it clearer are:

1. some colours are very clear and clean and bright.  others are ‘dirty’ or more subtle blends of colours.  Which you like is generally personal preference, but if you put a clean colour next to a subtle one, they won’t look nice.  The clean one might look ‘cheap’ or the subtle one ‘dirty’.  Look at these book spines.

The green on top is clean, the lower one dirty.

Put dirty greens together and they look great.  Likewise clean greens:

2. All colours are a blend and therefore have undertones.  A red can be pinkish (if it has some blue in it) or orangey (if it has yellow in it). If you have clashing undertones (a greenish beige with a reddish beige), even though they are both the same colour, they won’t look right.

This bedroom starts to look lilac not blue when you see the one below – because the blue above has lots of red in it, while the one below has yellow in it.  The one above is moving towards purple, while below it’s heading towards green.

And looking at the one below, it appears almost grey…

The solution:  take your paint and fabric swatches with you so that you can compare actual colours.  If you can’t take a sample of your carpet or rug, find paint sample cards that match them, and take those instead.

And if it’s all too hard – ask a professional.  We’re here to help, and save you money in the long term!

Why does paint look different on my wall to the swatch? Tuesday, Sep 14 2010 

One of life’s great mysteries, along with where the odd socks go, is why colour never looks the same on the wall as on the swatch.  How many times have you painted a wall your dream colour only to find that it looks… disappointing?  hideous?  totally not what you thought it would look like?

The worst bit about this, aside from the effort of repainting, is the confusion.  How do you know what is needed to get what you were looking for?

Here are some tips I’ve gleaned along the way that have really helped.

1. Colour is intensified on a wall. 

Much of this is because the area of a paint swatch is tiny – and a wall is many thousand times larger.  So you’ll be seeing many thousand times more of that colour – which alone will make it look stronger.  It’s the different between wearing red nail varnish, and red from head to toe.

If you have a colour you like, go for a dilution – most paint stores can dilute any colour to half or quarter strength.

Alternatively, get a less ‘clean’ version of the colour – a slightly more grey version or a more creamy version (depending on the orientation of your room – see below) can knock the colour back enough to look great.

2. The orientation of the room will change the colour.

Just as the setting sun will burnish everything to a rosy glow, all lights cast their own colours.  Therefore the direction that your windows face will alter the way the colour appears on the walls.  If you face the sun, you will be bathed in warmer light, so yellows will look more yellow, and blues will appear less cold.  If you face the (north in the northern hemisphere, south in Australia – this still confuses me, having been born in Europe) direction that never recieves direct sunlight, cold colours will appear colder, and a yellow will not appear so bright.  I actually painted a warm cream in a room facing the sun and it looked lemon.  In a room that recieves no direct sunlight, I love it!

In this room, you can see how cold the light is, and how fabulous the yellow looks with it.

This means a colour will also look different not only as the day progresses, but also under electric light – and again it depends which bulbs you have: flourescent light is a different shade to tungsten bulbs… 

3. Reflected light changes the colour

Light bounces off surfaces and will alter the shades in your room.  If you have a reddish floor (terracotta tiles, or reddish wood floors), they will cast a red glow on your walls and make reds appear stronger.  They will also bring out the red undertones in other colours such as beige.

Light will also bounce off the things outside the window – if you face a red brick wall, you’ll face the red issue again. 

4. There is no such thing as a ‘neutral’ neutral.

All colours have undertones, even beige.  A beige can have a greenish look, a pinkish look and so on.  And this will be emphasised by the type of sunlight, the reflected light and so on.

The room above looks drab – this is because the walls are a yellowish beige, while the sofa has a pinkish undertone (and the carpet has a purplish beige colour to it).  The cushions have a greenish hue.  This will has the effect of making the room feel slightly ‘off’.  It would be better to replace the wall colour with something different, such as a soft grey and the cushions with a bit of colour – maybe a blue grey to pick up the walls.

The blue below has some yellow in it which warms it a little.

This bathroom is painted a much ‘cooler’ colour. 

6. Personal preferences

Some people just love lots of colour and thrive on it, others find it overwhelming.  Most people tire of strong colour and strong pattern – so that’s fine for an outfit you only wear for a day – but maybe not for a chair that you’re going to sit on for years, day after day, night after night.  If you want strong colour, the cheap and easily-changeable (such as cushions and vases) are my vote.  Wall colour is actually inexpensive to change if you’re doing it yourself, but it is a hassle.

This room (which is actually the office of a colour consultant) would drive me crazy as the yellow and blue on the curtains are so strong, and there seems no respite from the turquoise (which I would love as some gentle accents in the room).

There – much better.  Which goes back to the size issue – when you have a huge area of one colour, it will feel much more overwhelming.

5. Finally, the other items in the room will affect how the colour looks

All colour is relative.   It seems that none are absolute – what is next to one thing can radically alter the way the colour appears (just like red lipstick can make your skin look paler).  But that is such a long story – it will have to wait for another post.

If you want help choosing colours for your home, call me for a consultation on 0424 617755.