Got Paint Colour Paralysis?

Up to your ears in paint colours? Can’t decide which one to use?   It need not be tricky, and your starting point is probably right in front of you. Ideally you want to make sure it goes with the furnishings that you already have.   A painting or a rug that you love perhaps? Could you paint the room in a shade or hue that would work with both?  Not everyone is drawn to bright, bold colours, so be in the moment and think about what colours you are drawn to.  You probably already know the colours you naturally love and those that you detest.

Have you been keeping a scrap book of all the interiors you like? Been doing any mood boards? (This is why they are so useful people!)  Look through them and magazines and really see what colours are there that you are drawn to.  Is there a common colour thing happening? Perhaps you are drawn to old woods, rustic greys or blues.  If you love blue, is it midnight, pale aqua, or a Wedgewood Powder Blue?  Ask yourself all these questions.   If you are seeking paint colours for your kitchen or bathroom, it is wise to pay attention to finishes like the tiles that you cannot/do not want to change.  This could also a good starting point for your scheme perhaps?

Pink, apricot, cream and warm woods used with a Cool Light

Pink, apricot, cream and warm woods used with a Cool Light

Pay attention to the orientation of the room that you are painting.  Is it North facing? (We are talking Southern Hemisphere)  Does it get a lot of afternoon sun?  This may be the ideal place to use blues, greens and aquas – cooler colours that will offset the warm sun rays and yellow light entering the room. You only have to think of a sunny, north facing room in February to know that bright orange or red will feel totally overwhelming in there!

Conversely a south facing room has cool, blue light, and no sun, so a warmer shade – yellow, reds, pinks will feel good there.  In New Zealand our bathrooms are often on the South side of the house and people paint them blue as they feel this relates to water. Be warned fellow Kiwis, if you paint a bathroom blue, the southern light, coupled with white porcelain and tiles may feel like you are bathing in a chilli bin, not a warm bath!   Consider a warm yellow, ochre or cream instead.

Aqua blue is warmed up here by warm wooden floors.

Aqua blue is warmed up here by warm wooden floors.

Blue is warmed up with wood tones here- in the curtains, table, and chandelier.

Blue is warmed up with wood tones here- in the curtains, table, and chandelier.

After you’ve sorted out whether you are going warm (reds, yellows, oranges) or cool (blues, greens, aquas) and what furnishings you are going to try to tie your paint colour in with, then get the paint charts out.  Not everyone is drawn to bold, clear colours so if you are one of them, then look to the neutral shades of the colour you are thinking of.  Always, always, test the colours out.  2 coats, painted on a big sheet of cardboard.  And use the exact finish you plan to use — high gloss will look very different from matte or eggshell. If you don’t want to deal with test pots, look for a paint company that offers poster-size paint chips and tape them to your wall instead.   Look at them in all lights – morning, noon and night, on rainy days, sunny days, and then at night when you have the lights on. These different lights will all change the paint colour.  If a certain shade doesn’t work in the room, and it is in the same colour family that you are considering using, it will probably work in another room in the house.  This will give flow and continuity to your space.  So, get those overalls on and get started.

Warm terracotta pots and wood tones, help to warm up a neutral, grey, beige.  Greige.

Warm terracotta pots and wood tones, help to warm up a neutral, grey, beige. Greige.


Mixing it Up Style-Wise

Over the weekend we were lucky enough to visit a Mediterranean styled house on the shores of Lake Rotorua.  Superb views over a misty lake made us realise (yet again) what a gorgeous place New Zealand really is.  Could have actually been Lake Como in Italy which I guess is where the Mediterranean styled house came from.  Inside was luxurious and comfortable, styled with antiques, original fittings from a 1920’s house.  All good so far, but then the elephants started popping up, then the tigers on the cushions, then the leopards in the pictures, more elephants peeking around the corner of the terrace outside our room and the African animal themed sheer curtains. Somehow that didn’t work… does African relate to Mediterranean to New Zealand?  Short answer, It doesn’t.

What had happened here is that they had added too many themes/styles into the mix. Mediterranean styled on the exterior is very common here, and again that is all good, but inside it didn’t really relate with the African animal thing. 1920’s antiques and decoration does, as that relates to the original and hints at our past.  More appropriate would’ve been to continue the Mediterranean style and add more antiques-Mediterranean style so the place had a cohesive whole. Something like this would have been ideal:

Image Continue reading

Neutral Colour Schemes

A neutral colour  is not just cream or black or beige.  They are an example of a neutrals, but what most  fail to realise is that any colour can be a neutral.  Yes, that’s right! So you can have a neutral green (khaki), neutral yellow (ochre), neutral red (pink), neutral blue (Wedgewood blue) and so on.  A neutral is any colour that has been muddied up, had some sludge thrown in there, a bit of chalk, a bit of dirt.

A neutral colour is the opposite of an accent or “loud” colour.  It does not “pop” out or grab your attention and is a softer version of a bright colour. For example red, orange or blue or any colour that attracts your eye easily.  Go to your wardrobe and give it a quick scan- the colours that grab your attention are the accent/pop/loud colours, the rests are probably neutrals.  Not so hard huh?

So, how do you use neutrals in a colour scheme?  They make a good base to pop your favourite accents on.  If your favourite colour is navy or bright blue, then you might to warm it up with a cream.  (Blue is a ‘cool’ colour and cream is a white that has had yellow added to it) Alternatively you may like yellows- this is all good until you are sitting in a very hot room on a summers day and are surrounded by bright yellow.  Nothing mellow-yellow about that, so off set it with a subtle blue grey and that will give you the balance.  Save the bright full on yellow for the accent colour in accessories.  You also don’t need to use exactly the same neutral colour throughout the house. Use varying depths and shades of the same colour, or something less sludgy in different rooms to suit its aspect and light.  This makes for an interesting scheme that flows through the house without it being boring and beige.  For example, it is good to use a double/stronger/deeper neutral in rooms where you want to be cocooned – studies, dining rooms, or in rooms that are on the cool side (south side in New Zealand) of the house that get no sun.  Alternatively on the warmer (Northern in NZ) side of the house, go for the slightly cooler shades and lighter tones, so things feel light and airy.


So get into neutral but do not forget to beef up the textures.  This adds the interest in a neutral scheme.  The inspiring pictures are from Lonny magazine of Jo Malone’s new headquarters.  The beautiful mouldings did not need too much colour to set them off – in fact they are texture itself and the designer, Rose Uniacke has kept the rest of the decoration beautiful but minimal so they come to the fore. There are other elements of texture added too – bare wooden floors, the glorious chandelier and even logs in the fire place.  I bet the place smells as gorgeous as it looks too!


Making an Entrance

Have you been invited to some ones house, you get dressed up, by some flowers, take a bottle of wine and when you get there it is well, a bit of a let down, as it is a little disappointing? Think you have got the wrong house as it is not what you expected?  Or even worse cannot find the front door?  Do you think Goldilocks would have visited the 3 Bears if she couldn’t find the front door?

So…How is your Front Door or Entrance looking then?  Does it look like you have gone to an effort? Does it set the scene? No?  Well, you better get busy with the broom and/or water blaster.  Make sure the area is clean, dust, litter, cobweb and leaf free.  Remove the smelly old trackies. Nothing worse than it looking like a rubbish dump- that says: “You came around but I couldn’t be bothered cleaning up for you”


Next, make the front door an Entrance,  so that you create excitement when someone arrives.  They need to think: “Wow, this is the front door!  Wonder who lives here?”

The front door needs to be highlighted. Paint it a show stopping colour – Red, or Blue, Liquorice Black or anything that is not Beige!  Place a couple of pots in the same colour either side and put some cool structural plants or coloured ones in them.  Try to match your scheme and/or style of house.  A good idea is to bring the hallway colour or accent colour you use inside out onto the front door.  Often the door opens into a hall, and so it sets the scene for what is going on inside your abode.


I think I want to live here.


Come On In

Also think about updating the door mat often – the ‘Welcome’ really is not necessary if you have done all the above as you will have Made an Entrance.

Doing Double Duty

We are always short on space and rooms aren’t we?  (Though if you have been cleaning up and sorting, you may have a bit more by now!) However, have you thought about have a room being dual purpose?  For example, a guest room could be turned into a home office or a sewing/craft room in between times.  A Dining Room, could perhaps do double duty as an office or a library.  Both of these rooms need to be warm and cocooning, not to mention interesting, so the decorating scheme would fit either way.  It is also possible to put a corner of a room to a different use – for instance a desk area in the corner of a lounge, or in a hallway.  Bookshelves can make a hallway really interesting.

Here is another interior by Ilse Crawford, in which a ‘kitchen’ wall has been put to great use as a bookshelf.  The table then does double duty as a desk. How clever.


And what a great idea pictured below where a pull out bed actually looks like a display cabinet. Clever again.


Then there is this innovative idea that you could use for a home office-bedroom double duty…or maybe for the room at the bottom of the garden!  How simple is this?  So, you can have more guests to stay and get more space for yourself at the same time.  Perfect!


Dining Room Dramas

Are you lucky enough to have a separate Dining Room? Does it have Drama? If it doesn’t you need to create it. A lot seem to follow the same menu (excuse the pun): Table, Matching Chairs, Pendant hanging over middle of Table. Finished.
Hmm, does it feel welcoming and cocooning? Does it make you just want to sit there and enjoy drinking vin rouge or can you not wait to get out of there because it is all so unwelcoming, uninteresting and cold?

Please make an effort and place some flowers in the centre of the table to start with.  Turn the heater on if it is winter. Make it warm and snug.To create the drama the easiest, cheapest and best thing to start with would be Colour – paint it a dark red, sludgy grey or perhaps use an amazing wallpaper. Think dark and moody, cocooning. Next look at the lighting – is it soft, and cocooning? No?  Well then, get the central pendant put on a dimmer switch. Consider using other light sources – fairy lights over the mantle piece, candles on the table, on the mantle. A lamp light in the corner on the buffet – you get the picture. Soft, ambient light is what you are after to get everyone relaxed and in the mood.  The table and chairs -they don’t need to be mitchy matchy, again it is more relaxing but the chairs do need to be comfortable.   If you create the Drama elsewhere in the Dining Room who is going to notice that they are not necessarily the latest thing?


Above is a Dining Room by Ilse Crawford-we just  love the same chairs and the mix of vintage with modern.  Definitely Dining Room Drama. Looking for inspiration on Dining Rooms?  Just think about an amazing restaurant you have been to and how it felt to be there…..try to create that drama and magic in yours.

Pattern Pulls it all Together.


Often people are scared of mixing pattern as they are scared their rooms will end up looking like a jumble sale….well, it can do when it is done badly, but once you have started to follow the few rules below, you will have no fear.  Pattern is a great way of adding zing and pulling all the various elements you have together in a room.  It is also a great way of connecting styles and bringing different colours together you may have in a scheme.

1.Patterns need to be consistent with each other visually, but create an atmosphere. For example, a tribal pattern would bring together an exotic African earthy style, or a Floral design may bring together all the pretty colours you have in your cottage.

2. When mixing start by using colours in common.  For instance if you have corals and blues in your pallette, then work with the same colours.

PatternMixinig Here you can see the have pulled the emerald green and white out of the floral and used in a geometric/animal print.  The blue velvet is also in the floral fabric and it has been used to coordinate in a velvet blue.

3. Next mix a large scale pattern with a small.  Eg. a large floral  pattern will balance a small one when the colours are in common and vice versa.  This is exactly what they have done at Burlap and Lace.  Visit this page as she has done a really good blog on pattern mixing!

4. Then, add in geometrics such as plaids, checks, diamonds and stripes.  They will all easily coordinate with a pattern if it is in a different scale and have similar colours.  Geometrics are huge in interiors at the moment, so use them to update your scheme.


Here you can see that Tara Bussema has used a central patterned cushion on the sofa to pull all the different blues and greens together.  Then she has used a chevron stripe (throw over back of the sofa) & a geometric  (Green and white) along with a zebra print to bring in the wicker chairs and other touches of black in in the room.  Looks Fantastic and is a fresh and great example of pattern being used to bring it all together.  Now what is scary about that?