As a teenager, my small, boxy bedroom was a space where I could do whatever I wanted. It became a carefully arranged patchwork of potted palms, posters and postcards on the odd lilac shade I had chosen, and a painted silver door and matching woodwork were installed.
My 7-year-old daughter Skye has yet to develop a burning desire to control the beauty of her space. One day that clear vision will come to life, and it will become something fun and shared. If she wanted to paint it her fluorescent yellow, I’d say, “Sure, let’s do that!”
We often forget that color is subjective. Just as food doesn’t taste the same for both of us, my view of green is different from your view of green. You’re looking at turquoise, but to me it’s jade.
That’s one of the reasons why finding your palette is so personal. We’re all programmed to wonder what the Joneses of the future are up to, but we need to try not to get too “net-curtain” when it comes to online inspiration.
I know it’s tempting. Of course, I’m not collecting information on her Instagram either, but it’s easy to get sidetracked by this overwhelming maze of images.
Being exposed to too many things can lead to even vaguer ideas about what color your kitchen should be. Because I just said he’s seen a billion things. You were doing well in the past, weren’t you?
My approach is to go back to an instinctive approach to decorating, rather than asking or borrowing from others.
How do you want to feel in the room? If you’re looking for a calm and relaxed atmosphere, a bluish-green palette might be wise. If you’re feeling cozy and calm, head towards more earthy, warm tones.
The things you value will give you a clue as to what you want to value in your life. Maybe it’s a scarf you’ve had for years, a plant on your front porch, or the cover of a children’s book. Please open those drawers.
When I work with clients, I always start the project by asking the same 20 questions. These questions are designed to be answered quickly and impulsively. For each answer given, find an image that reflects that answer and pin all images to the board to create a visual design identity.
This snapshot of what they love most will serve as a starting point for your project. Give it a try and use it as an anchor throughout your renovation.
Painting is always the most accessible, affordable and impactful part of the process.
Just as an artist moves from background to midground to foreground, define the core colors first, then return to the mood board for secondary tones. Use it on big-ticket items like sofas and rugs, as well as contrasting ceilings, door frames, and baseboards.
Three of your favorite shades that work well together are enough to create a scheme.
When in doubt, remember what you learned at school. This is the basic premise of the color wheel: contrasting warm and cool colors tend to complement each other.
I’ve always been a big fan of accent colors, and I still sometimes splurge on nice accessories, but cushions and lampshades are definitely something to avoid.
When I was doing fashion, Anna Wintour said to me, “You know what? “Stay in your lane.” There’s nothing wrong with doing what you know is right. In my case it’s pink and green. Go your own way!
Pink is my favorite color. So I said. It would take more than two hands to count the number of products and rooms that have been painted different pink colors over the years. From rose to stucco, fuchsia to cherry, pink is what makes me happiest.
When I was in my early 20s, studying abroad in London and living at my bedside, one of the first things I asked for was to give the lackluster galley kitchen a coat of candy floss pink. It was sweet and sweet and certainly kitschy and quirky. I remember it as a bustling little box filled with a student’s happy home life.
My lounge in London is a large room with high ceilings and lots of wall space. It was recently painted with a soft blush, but the shade has a subdued earthiness to it, and somehow it doesn’t even look pink.
This color gives the room a pleasant decadent feel, but at the same time comfortable and cozy. I can guarantee you that a more traditional neutral policy would not have been as successful. White can be crisp and fresh, but it can also be stark and unforgiving.
Sage, eaudenil, peppermint, forest, moss, lime, olive, seafoam… As these names clearly indicate, green is the color we associate most with nature. No matter where I live, I actively use greenery because I know it makes me feel happier. It’s my go-to color and I know it’ll work every time.
While deep jewel-like greens project luxury, glamor and decadence, softer, more subdued green tones appear in my work as well. Light shades of green are relaxing and can help you calm down, making them ideal for bedrooms.
With all this in mind, it’s probably no surprise that my own bedroom is painted head to toe green. Tequila green is a mint neutral color that is refreshing and striking, but at the same time evokes a sense of calm. The lower ceiling is painted a moodier, more intense basilica green.
An eclectic mix of rugs, artwork, bed linens and plants, all unified by the color green, are harmoniously arranged.
Perhaps, like red, yellow may be too bright and bold for some people to create a sense of peace and ease of living, but it doesn’t have to be fluorescent or toxic (although I do (Not that I’m against shiny flashes of neon yellow). Yellow is also a delicate and gentle color.
Soft, buttery, mellow yellow tones are the perfect background color for large spaces. Think of a soft dairy yellow, reminiscent of the top of a bottle of creamy milk. If so, play it safe and choose a cream that feels subdued and soothing. However, I would seriously consider a cream that has a bit of yellow in it.
If you want to add a bolder touch of sunshine to your room, try a more earthy shade of yellow rather than the more common bold shades of daffodil or canary.
My summer room in Spain gets surprisingly little light, so I painted the walls an ocher yellow. It’s a room that’s cheerful without being flashy, has depth, and is a room my family always dreams of having.
Red is certainly not the most livable color, but if you’re feeling brave and bold, it can make a big impact. I loved the old hallways with bright tomato-colored walls, decorated with treasures and trinkets from my travels around the world.
More recently, I’ve moved away from red rooms and evolved to a stage where I view red as an accent color rather than the overall saturation of the room.
Now, rather than using it as an all-over color, it is used sparingly to highlight and draw attention to accessories and furniture that particularly stand out.
A single piece chosen in red can create a stunning effect in your space. I always keep this in mind when planning the entire room and try to suppress the voice in my head that tells me to go full red.
Instead, use it in moderation as a full-bodied contrast to softer shades. Every confident designer I admire uses this trick. This is because it means confidence and makes you feel strong and energetic.
Blue is not a warm color, but it is refreshing, light, airy, and cool. From baby and Wedgwood shades to sky and sea blues, we offer an endless palette. In that sense, it is difficult to talk about blue as a single color. There are simply so many variations.
I don’t tend to use blue on my walls because I see it as a color that lends itself well to fabrics and accessories. When I’ve used a swath of blue in an interior project, it’s been either a cool Klein blue or a gentle, soothing shade.
Although it struggles to create a warm atmosphere when used as the main background color, it can look chic, elegant, and sophisticated.
This lounge above was experimental. I wanted to try a white room with rattan and seaweed, but I didn’t originally like white, but I quickly realized that it wasn’t me. The space is now more eclectic, with plenty of aqua and electric blue patterns and accents.
Matthew Williamson’s first interiors book ‘Living Bright’ (£30, Thames & Hudson) is on sale now