Let’s start with the easiest element to bring into a room – texture. Texture doesn’t fight for attention like pattern or colour can, it just adds a richness and depth to a room. It makes a room more interesting and I think it can make a space feel more welcoming, cosier. A good example of this is thinking about cotton cushions. If you filled up a sofa with cotton cushions, it would be a lot less inviting than a sofa with a combination of softer textures: wools, tweed, hand woven fabrics. But if you only used heavily textured cushions it could look too much. It’s about balance.
I think of pattern as adding accents to a room. Pattern can bring emotion to room. A print on a cushion can evoke a feeling, can be nostalgic and therefore can add a layer to a space that the other elements can’t so easily. With a brightly coloured floral curtain, you can instantly make a room feel cheery. But like everything else, you need to consider the balance in a room. I think that if you have 70% of the space plain, then you can use pattern to make up the rest of the 30%. And you can use a combination of patterns. In my living space in both the cottage and in London I combine various patterns. But I can do this because I choose one to be the more dominant focus and then the others have to complement that and not fight for more attention. This can be achieved by making sure the second or third patterns are only small elements or they are limited to less colours. So a cushion with a busy print would work with a patterned curtain because the cushion is relatively small. I also find it generally easier to work with white walls if I am going to introduce lots of pattern and colour.
For me colour dictates the mood I want to feel in that space. You can of course create those moods by using pattern and texture, but colour is the easiest way to do it. When I start thinking about a room, I think what do I want to feel in this space?
In a kitchen I often want to feel uplifted so my kitchen spaces have often been multi-coloured and more vibrant but with white walls so that there is a freshness to the space.
In my bedrooms I have used blues and greens in the past few I have decorated. This is because they are calming colours. The pale pink that I added to my London bedroom, combined with the navy added a soothing feel: the blue calms and the pink soothes.
In my bedroom now I have dark navy walls but then I only have two other colours in my bedroom palette which aren’t vibrant but much more muted like a pale pink. And a hint of pattern comes from my ottoman which again has muted, dark colours.
I have made mistakes in my colour selection of spaces. In my house in Hackney, I painted the living room dark grey. It was a wonderful space for the evenings and very cosy with the added warm colours I put in there with soft furnishings but it was too focused on being a space for the evening so I found I never sat there in the day. I found it depressing to sit in a darkly decorated room in the day. I learnt from that in the next living room I decorated in Wlathamstow, keeping the darker elements to the soft furnishings (dark bottle green sofa and navy velvet curtains, but kept the walls white so it still feels fresh.
Lets look at the colours in my living room at the cottage. The cottage has lower ceilings than my London house so already I can’t afford to have too much dark colour. I need to lift it a bit. So I’ve got white walls which are neutral, then rather than having a dark velvet sofa I have a pale pink one. The texture of the sofa adds warmth to the space but without making it feel too dark Then I’ve brought in the teal Bombay Spring curtains which are bright but not so much so that you would feel like it belongs in a bathroom or a kitchen. Teal can go either way so it is a great colour for most spaces. I also thought about the density of the print, the business. Bombay Spring is a lot less dense than Peacock Lassi so it lends itself to being complement with other prints, such as our Palms Monochrome in this instance.
I wanted another colour in there but I saw the mint side table as being in the same tonal family as the teals I had introduced in the cushions and the curtains. It also added a freshness to the space, making it appealing for the day time. I love the distressing of the side table as it adds another layer of texture to make the space feel warmer, cosier. And finally the lamp adds further texture that I think is necessary to contrast again a lot of velvet and cotton. A bit of sheen and better still textured sheen brings everything to life.
I tend to work in this order: start with your walls, then your sofa (you might have a really amazing sofa which would take priority over the walls) and then your curtains and blinds. And finally adding in soft furnishings like cushions, throws and rugs. And with each addition, consider the texture, pattern and colour. If you have quite striking curtains like mine then you don’t want to have a striking rug as well. Smaller pieces of furniture should be dictated by what’s already in your room so allow them to complement and sometime slightly contrast (like the monochrome cushions) which can add a touch of freshness to the room but it doesn’t fight with your palette.