Focus on Colour

Focus on Colour



While there is a place for neutrals in our homes, there is much to be gained from matching the function of our rooms with colours that aid the room’s purpose.

“Man needs colour to live: it’s just as necessary an element as fire and water.”
(Fernand Leger)

Colour surrounds us every minute of every day. We are bombarded with colour in nature, on television, in advertising, food, clothes and cars. Unless you are colour blind, there is no escaping colour; it is part of our lives. Then why is it we are so nervous when it comes to incorporating colour into our decorating?

Many country decorators I meet confess to me that they “got into” country decorating in the first place because the limitations of a traditional country palette made for easy choices. Now that the country palette has expanded to incorporate softer, brighter and more varied hues, many are feeling a little overwhelmed and opting for neutral schemes to avoid the colour issue completely.

While there is a place for neutrals in our homes, there is much to be gained from matching the function of our rooms with colours that aid the room’s purpose. In modern-day chromotherapy, colours are chosen based on the reaction our bodies have to them.

We have all seen evidence of this way of thinking when we visit fast-food chains that utilise red and yellow in their corporate look, as these colours reportedly stimulate hunger. On the home front, research has shown that blues and greens are wonderful for areas of rest, like bedrooms or living rooms. Yellows are energizing and pinks are cheery.

Other testing suggests our idea of stimulating babies with bold colours such as red may not be as good for the child’s sleep patterns as we would like. And although the parents of little boys have traditionally chosen otherwise, pink is now seen to be particularly beneficial to boisterous youngsters.

As decorators, our colour choices are probably based more on what we like than on what the latest scientific theory dictates and that’s a great place to start. Colour adds character and personality to a room. If your colour palette has consisted of clotted cream, antique white and vanilla mocha, you may well find the thought of adding colour to your rooms a daunting task.

Colour confidence comes with experience. The important thing is to experiment with colour. Begin with baby steps, if you must, by incorporating colourful cushions and other textiles. Try painting just a feature wall, if a room full of colour is too big a commitment.

Colour can transform a room and, as paint is relatively inexpensive and quick and easy to apply, the transformation can be made in a weekend. If you have used different colours in different rooms do utilise neutrals nearby, if you can, to help the colours blend rather than fight for attention.
If you are renting or unable to paint the walls, try painting furniture and don’t forget the insides of cupboards. Even a change to the colour of the inside of a wall unit can help give a room a subtle lift.

In decorating colour isn’t only about adding mood, it can unify mismatched items and bring a room together. It really is amazing how colour can suddenly lift an undecorated, thrown-together room and turn it into a unified display. Wall colour can give a basis to your scheme, while painting furniture to unify it can give a cohesive feel to the room. Our displays, too, can benefit from being given the colour treatment. A display of totally mismatched items can be a disaster but unify that display by grouping items by colour and you suddenly have an eye-catching statement.

Don’t forget to incorporate colour in your textiles as well. They are a great way to stay up-to-date as your decorating evolves. It’s really inexpensive and easy to change or add colourful cushions in a room and, if your budget extends to it, curtains are also a great way to infuse a room with colour.

Many of us choose neutrals because we are afraid we will tire of our colour choices and that is a valid consideration. The best way to inject colour into your decorating, while still playing it safe, is to use neutrals for the big-budget items and then add colour with items that are less expensive or quick to change.

It makes sense to choose neutral tiles, carpets, bathroom and kitchen fi xtures and cabinets. But you can easily add colour to these areas with bold accents such as rugs, towels, bowls, canisters and the like. And although I’ve said it before, it is worth remembering that paint really is a cheap way to update the colour of a room. For around $80 you can buy enough paint to transform quite a large room, making it one of the cheapest fi xes available to decorators.

So why not stretch yourself this weekend by adding or changing the colour of a room in your home. Banish the blah and update to a fresh country look, it could lift your spirits and add value to your home.