Designing your home is a deeply personal endeavour. As a designer, I am given privileged access to my clients’ private lives: their values, lifestyles and family dynamics. Creating your own space is exciting, but it can also be very challenging and extremely stressful. Often the creative process of building or renovating a home becomes increasingly burdened with construction budgets, persistent deadlines and the pressure of re-sale values. Amid the chaos, it is easy to lose sight of the original intent; your home should reflect you, your character and your interests. Think of how you want your home to feel every time you step through the front door.
When designing your home consider the ripple effect of each decision. Starting with the basics, colour can be one of the most effective ways to inject personality into your space. However, as one of the most crucial design elements, there needs a concrete plan in place before experimenting with colour. Incorporation of colour into the more permanent materials and hard surfaces needs careful consideration. Before you commit to fire-engine red cabinets or apple-green countertops (which will cost thousands to replace in the future), consider adding smaller shots of colour, such as artwork, throw cushions or rugs. Vibrant accessories can have the same colour impact without date-stamping your entire space at summer, 2015. Remember when harvest-gold appliances seemed like a good idea? Me neither.
As a communication tool, colour can set the tone, evoke emotion or create a focal point. We all know the easiest way to add colour to our homes is with paint. It makes sense; it’s cost effective and easy to change when we tire of it. The first to consider is a colour’s permanency. How much do you really love the colour? Can you live with this bold stroke for five years? Ten? It’s rather unlikely; we humans are finicky creatures.
Colour preference can often reflect the essence of our character. The bolder of us choosing vivid hues, the quieter leaning towards the neutral tones. But this isn’t always the case, even the most vivacious of people love soft grey. I consider myself a pretty spicy lady and lover of all things orange, but I also value my sleep. Every space needs a balance between the vibrant and the subdued for maximum impact. Use colour placement strategically; bold colours look great behind the headboard of your bed and won’t leave you buzzing like that fifth cup of coffee.
Contrary to those fearless bold colours, don’t underestimate the quiet dignity of the white wall. There’s something wonderfully tranquil, yet complex about a monochromatic room. To achieve a delicate balance without tipping into medical lab territory, consider layering textures as opposed to colour. If all surfaces in a room are predominantly hard and polished, a room can feel sterile and uninviting. By layering in softer elements like bleached wood or nubby textiles, you give a room depth without bold colours stealing the spotlight.
Requirements and considerations aside, if there’s one place where you can break the rules, it’s the powder room. This simple room, that fulfills two basic needs, is one of the most flexible rooms in your home with the potential to pack a powerful punch (stylistically speaking, of course). Think outside the box – use powder room walls to make a statement with drama, texture and contrast. Paint alternatives such as Venetian plaster, wallpaper and silver-leafing have significant impact in a small, yet vital space.
The willingness to play with colour allows you to experiment and strengthen your voice through interior design. Think of how a colour makes you feel and how a room’s function can be enhanced by that emotion. Whether your preference is monochromatic or bold, choose colours based on your personal style, not trends. Have fun, but be flexible. Give yourself permission to change your mind about chartreuse in the future.