Before we discover how to design a room successfully, there are a few basic considerations. Firstly, which direction is the room facing? This is so important as light affects the fabric, wallpaper and paint choices that you make. Good interior decoration shouldn’t force you to discard favourite items – after all layering of objects gives a home integrity – so make a list of pieces of furniture you want to incorporate into your scheme. The easiest way to do this is to take snaps and start a little mood board, so you can get an overview of the elements. This will help you form a more professional look for your room. Now the fun bit, choosing paints and fabrics…
Colour clashing… an artistic masterclass
On first glance colourful rooms can seem thrown together, but there’s a rather scientific method to this seeming madness – the 60/30/10 formula, you don’t have to stick to this rigidly but it helps to have this in the back of your mind when deciding on three or four colour combinations. In this modern bedroom, the golden Moleskin velvet headboard makes a big impact in the neutral setting. The secondary colour – the 30 per cent – is seen on the petrol velvet upholstered stool and the matching two blue lights. The extra 10 per cent allows you to be a little more adventurous: the large print cushion introduces a beautiful pattern which is then picked up in the pink and green velvet scatter cushions. Your favourite colour combinations can usually be found in your wardrobe – we all make style decisions consciously or unconsciously every day. For instance, I rarely wear an outfit without a little green; think about what your favourite colour combinations are, for clothes, and you won’t go too wrong when picking complementary colours for your home.
How to use wallpaper successfully
Deciding on the right wallpaper for your home comes down to many factors, although we are usually intrinsically drawn to certain designs. Think about the mood you are trying to achieve. For a bedroom, soft, cool colours feel fresh and peaceful but when choosing dining room wallpaper, I would pick a design full of joyful, warm colours – it will make your guests feel comfortable and lead to conducive dining. This exuberant patterned wallpaper would be just the ticket – the classic dragon pattern is utterly charming, there is a nod to classicism but the brave mix of colours feels perfect for today.
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When it comes to choosing paint colours, I love how the tangerine paint isolates that pattern, thus giving it a confident appearance. Colours pulled from the paper like the Omega Fford velvet upholstery fabric seen on the chair, add to the cohesive feel of the room.
Masterclass… making classic fabrics work for today's home
Damask is sometimes considered to be a traditional fabric and is often eschewed by the younger generations as being too old fashioned. But I think it’s time to rethink that sentiment and use it in new ways. Here a beautiful blue damask sits perfectly on a clean-lined sofa from that doyen of British sofa design, David Seyfried. We paired it with a selection of iconic furniture and a cool Moroccan rug – nothing old fashioned about this. Other ways to use damask successfully are in neutral schemes – its subtle pattern adds an interesting texture and stops everything becoming too safe; one never wants to be considered boring. To use the modern colours with contemporary confidence, consider adding a little pop. A bright damask such as the glorious autumnal Damson would look lovely on the back of a dining chair – clearly showcasing the subtle botanical pattern.
Decorating with floral fabrics? Follow this rule
Generally speaking I avoid using two or more strong patterns or colours in a room. I know it’s popular with many designers, but I feel it makes for a jarring look. For me, when it comes to patterned fabric there’s only one rule to follow: the art of framing. Floral fabrics, such as this large-scale patterned fabric, need to take centre stage. The choice of white woodwork and sanitaryware gives it prominence, and the addition of the lovely complementing blue walls allows the botanical pattern to sing.
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Some might be tempted to add a colourful cushion to the leather armchair, but I feel the blind would be dissipated by the addition of further strong pattern. Keep it simple. The patterns always speak for themselves.
I love curtains – they finish off a room
Certain windows need full curtains – hanging gracefully at your sitting room window enhancing the height of the room and generally looking rather lovely. A word of warning though – never let curtains overwhelm a room, they should simply enhance it. Here, I’ve combined a little pattern on pattern – as you know, it’s not something I often try but the Prisma collection of weaves has been so cleverly designed by Linwood’s creative team to mix and match I couldn’t resist. The patterns all work together wonderfully because each supports the other. The sofa fabric picks up the orange in the wonderful geometric design of the curtains and we painted the legs of the sofa to match the fabrics and the terracotta walls. I know that seems a rather strange idea – especially if the sofa is new – but I’ve been doing it for years. The single cushion – sitting rather regally in the centre – finishes everything off. It’s subtle; not jarring and brash.
Katrin Cargill is passionate about colour and pattern. She’s the European Style Editor at Milieu and regularly produces decorating stories for Homes and Gardens in the UK.