Discover your true colours: the experts share their bold colour tricks

Love bold tones and patterns, but too nervous to use them in your home? Fear not! Interiors editor Sally Cullen asks the experts to share their bright ideas.

While many of us are happy to make a bold statement with a bright outfit or a patterned scarf, how many of us bring that colour confidence into our homes? Though a neutral palette can be sophisticated and soothing, if your heart soars at the sight of an unusual combination (red and pink, anyone?) why not go for it?

Reassuringly, if you are keen to try the world of colour, there’s no need to dive in and decorate your whole room in a riot of shades, hoping for the best. Help is at hand in the form of two iconic British brands, Farrow & Ball and Liberty, which have collaborated to create a foolproof edit of timeless paint colours and complementary interiors fabrics.

Joa Studholme, colour curator from Farrow & Ball, and Bryony Rae Sheridan, buying manager from Liberty, show us how to lose our inhibitions with their expert tips…

Keep it subtle

Consider the journey between rooms as an opportunity to add some unexpected colour. Be it the interior of an archway or a doorframe, it’s a subtle way to add depth and interest.

Take your gallery wall to the next level and make your favourite piece of artwork really stand out by painting a block on the wall behind in a complementary hue: roughly six inches larger than the frame size is the sweet spot.

A glass-fronted cabinet can be transformed by lining the doors with a statement fabric – and has the added benefit of concealing clutter.

keep it subtle
Jon Day

Armchair, £935, sofa.com. Cushion cover, £35, conranshop.co.uk. Vases, £145 and £210, both designvintage.co.uk. Inner arch painted in Absolute Matt Emulsion in Arras, £48.50 for 2.5l, littlegreene.com. Sideboard, £425, barkerandstonehouse.co.uk. Anni Stripe linen (inside) in Garden Green, £128 per m, imogenheath.com. Lamp, £250, and dinner candleholder, £30, both roseandgrey.co.uk. Print by Nynne Rosenvinge, £76.72, and oak frame, £59.48, both theposterclub.com. Behind artwork painted in Chalk Paint in Amsterdam Green, £21.95, anniesloan.com. Vase, £250, oka.com/uk. Pot, £45, candelabra, £65, and framed print by Adam Watts, from £50, all artistsandobjects.com. Candles, £11.50 for two, conranshop.co.uk. Rug, £1,495, oka.com.

Go for bold

Painting woodwork such as skirting boards and shelving a contrasting shade to your walls is a great way to add colour without committing to a whole room. Experiment with combinations that make you happy, and don’t be afraid to break with convention by mixing and matching furniture elements in different tones.

go for bold
Jon Day

From top, wall painted in Matt Emulsion in English Fire, from £14 for 2.5l, and Flat Emulsion in Satin Lining x ELLE Decoration, from £36 for 2.5l, crownpaints.co.uk.

Colour basics

‘I start the process of decorating a room by making a list of everything I need to colour,’ says Farrow & Ball’s Joa Studholme. ‘I include all woodwork, ceiling and walls, and decorative elements such as shelving, furniture, fabrics and flooring. I use a mood board to layer colours and see how they sit together. Use the right proportions – there’s more wall than anything else. Think of each element as an ingredient in a recipe – they need careful balance to create the perfect dish.

‘Small amounts of colour or pattern can make a big difference – adding colour inside a cupboard or in the back of a dresser cannot fail to make you smile.’

‘Like Joa, I use mood boards,’ says Liberty’s Bryony Rae Sheridan. ‘If you have existing pieces, use those as your foundation. I am often drawn to a colour or print as a starting point to layer against.

‘Don’t be afraid to have multiple options, and consider them over time – there is no point rushing. I always add accessories as I find them, as the ever-evolving space is part of the enjoyment.

‘Generally, smaller spaces can handle more intense colour and heavier patterns. Cushions are a great way to test prints in a new space before making larger-scale additions such as curtains.’

Keep it subtle

If painting your walls feels like too much commitment, adding colour above a picture rail or on the ceiling will frame the room and emphasise its height.

Try adding patterned fabric to your schemes. A frame and staple gun are all you need to create a showstopping piece of art full of gorgeous texture.

Think about small areas that might benefit from a shot of colour. Surfaces within recesses and fireplaces are great places to introduce pretty tones.

Jon Day

Top of wall painted in Matt Emulsion in Terracotta Pot, and fireplace painted in Matt Emulsion in Tuscan Artichoke, both £45 for 2.5l, claybrookstudio.co.uk. Surface of shelf and inside fireplace painted in Chalk Paint in Antoinette, £21.95 for 1l, anniesloan.com. Inside frame: Cove linen in 008, £140 per m, fermoie.com. Jug, £55, oka.com. Dish, https://www.caravane.co.uk/products/bergayaplat. For a similar painting, try mediumroom.co.uk. Leaf decoration, £12, designvintage.co.uk. For a similar chair, try vinterior.co. Cushion cover, £35, conranshop.co.uk. Side table, £219, amara.com. Carafe, £39, and glass, £15, both hauslondon.com/collections/hay. Planter, £44, and bowl, £78, both designvintage.co.uk.

Go for bold

Green paint is taken up the wall and over the ceiling to create an intimate area that frames – and appears totally connected to – the garden beyond. The sofa fabric’s botanic detailing also reflects this.

Jon Day

Ceiling and facing wall painted in Modern Emulsion in Suffield Green, £53 for 2.5l, and wall on right painted in Modern Eggshell in Clunch, £73 for 2.5l, all farrow-ball.com. Wiltshire Blossom fabric in Lichen, £150 per m, libertylondon.com.

Go for bold

Painted tongue-and-groove panelling creates a vintage feel and can be added to give character to a room. Here, it goes perfectly with the curtain pattern, and both fabric and paint are shown off to their best set against the contrasting ceiling colour.

Jon Day

Cupboard doors painted in Pantalon, and walls in Sloe Blue, both Modern Eggshell finishes, £73 for 2.5l, and the ceiling is painted in Modern Emulsion in Clunch, £53 for 2.5l, all farrow-ball.com. Felix Raison linen in Lichen Bright, £140 per m, libertylondon.com.

Keep it subtle

A bookcase can be instantly revamped by painting the shelves a new hue – and taking the colour up to form a backdrop for accessories will make them stand out.

Colour blocking can be a smart way to zone open-plan rooms. A rich swathe of navy helps make this reading nook feel more cosy.

Basic sewing skills are all you need to make a tablecloth which will give a new lease of life to a side table. You can make up a few and switch them as you please.

Jon Day

Bookshelves painted in Matt in Green 05, £38 for 2.5l, lickhome.com. Top shelf: vase, £55, and bowl, £68 for three, both designvintage.co.uk; artwork, £400, emilyforgot.co.uk; for a similar plant, try conservatoryarchives.co.uk. Middle: jug, £55, oka.com; vase, £85, Sophie Alda, artistsandobjects.com, and bowls, £10.50 each, roseandgrey.co.uk. Bottom: vase, £100, conranshop.co.uk; print, £15, emilyforgot.co.uk; vase, £30, designvintage.co.uk, and striped vase, £5, oka.com. On floor: storage baskets, £65 and £55, both conranshop.co.uk. Rug, £1,695, oka.com. Armchair, £2,965, pinchdesign.com. Pendant light, £129, lightsandlamps.com. Side table covered in Garden Party Olive linen, £23 per m, merchantandmills.com. On table: napkin, £12.50, conranshop.co.uk; cup, £34, Brutes Ceramics, artistsandobjects.com, and vase, stylist’s own. Wall decorated in Mixing Matt in Breton Blue, £31.09 for 2.5l, dulux.co.uk.

Styling: Amy Neason