All things bright and beautiful is where it’s at for 2011

FORGET muted and cool – bright and beautiful is where it’s at for 2011. Agenda’s interiors expert Nick Lee explains how to take a grown-up approach to colour while still making it fun and exciting

Ever since man understood that fiery red meant danger and those purple berries were poisonous, colour has been associated with moods and feelings.

The colours of our environment affect our behaviour and mood, too – when yellow daffodils, azure bluebells and purple crocuses appear each spring, we immediately begin to feel more alive and happy. When grey skies and rain surround us we instinctively draw in and tend to hibernate.

Religious artists used colour as a form of shorthand. People looking at a stained glass window or a heraldic coat of arms would have instantly known blue equalled contemplative faith or green meant hope. Even saints were associated with different colours.

The colours we choose for our homes will affect our moods in a positive or negative way. Most of us find choosing paint or wallpaper a daunting prospect because of the vast choice available.


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Getting the right colour for both personality and property is definitely tricky which is why homeowners often turn to interior designers and professional painters and decorators for advice.

Do it properly

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There are real and valid reasons for where and why colour is chosen and used in interiors. Interior designer Rebecca James, who created the look for the home pictured in this feature, says: “It’s always a bit nerve-racking to use bright colours as they have the tendency to look tacky when not done properly. You need to be brave and ready to be scrutinised and judged.

“Designing in bright colours is akin to a lady going out to dinner in a bright orange low-cut dress. She’ll be noticed and she will be judged. If she gets it right she will be complimented and applauded, and if she fails she’ll be ridiculed.

“The key is to always balance your colours, never let them be lonely or isolated. I’ve learned over the years to stick to no more than three fabric textures in a room. When doing tone on tone, always look at your tones under a light, preferably daylight.

“If using clashing or opposite colours, it is advisable to use a colour chart to work out which colours match.’

Contact the British Institute of Interior Design, biid.org

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