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Getting bold colours right: tips from an interior design expert

  • colour palettes
  • trends
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Ed Hawes
mustard yellow sofa

There’s no denying it. Bold colours are back in, and they’re here to stay. Neutrals are always a great go-to and the likes of cream, off-white, beige and grey really took off. But now we’re working from home more often and we’ve had a chance to review our spaces, experiments with colour are popping up everywhere. But where do you start, and how far do you go with it? We spoke to Swyft interior designer Kelly Collins to get her take on transforming spaces from beige to bright.

kelly collins interior designer interior design bold colours colourful home colourful living room

“I’m so excited to see more homeowners take risks with bold colours in their homes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a neutral look, but I’ve always had an affinity for joyful pops of colour. If you get it right, decorating with colours really gives off a feeling of confidence in your design and I think that’s the key here. You don’t have to be an interior designer to experiment with bold colour in your home - you just have to be a bit ballsy and go for it!”.

Here are Kelly’s tips for making this colour trend work in your home.

Apprehensive? Start small

“Using loads of colour can go two ways - either you end up with combinations of colour that you don’t like, or you nail it and it looks effortless. If you’ve been a part of the neutral decor world for a while, diving headfirst into bright colours can be really intimidating.

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I always advise starting with a smaller area to test the waters and build your confidence up. For most houses, this could be redecorating a small downstairs bathroom or a utility room space. These locked-away areas are great to use when pushing yourself out of your colour comfort zone, and can act as a starting point for the rest of your home”.

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Image: Domino via Pinterest

Pay attention to the size of the room

“If you’re thinking about doing a whole room makeover, the first thing to assess is how much space you’ve got, and how much natural light the room gets. It’s a bit of a myth that smaller rooms shouldn’t be painted in bold or dark colours in my opinion - you just need to add more artificial light. This could mean adding wall lights or a dramatic feature pendant, depending on the style you’re going for. Either way, don’t shy away from dark or bold colours just because the room is small”.

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Model 02 sofa in Mustard Yellow

“If you’re not keen on the moody, atmospheric look that a dark colour gives in a small space, there are options for a more airy feel. Playing it safe with lighter tones of colour works, and bring in those statement pops of colour by painting your door frames, skirting boards or supports. Gone are the days of gloss white being the go-to shade for frames”. 

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Pick and mix your tones

“For a fail-safe way to do this trend, you can’t go wrong with combining colours from the same tonal family. I often see homeowners using neutrals with only one bold colour, which works, but it can be elevated to look much better. Doing this makes the space look effortlessly designed and much more cohesive. One example is this colourful living room look I styled in a Bedfordshire period property. When I saw the owner already had plaster pink walls, I knew our velvet Model 05 sofa in Brick red would look great in here, being part of the same tonal family. A pink sofa would also work well for this look if you wanted to keep it lighter”.

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“You can do the same in your own home by going bold with a colourful piece of furniture, and giving it a backdrop in a lighter shade. If you’re really getting into the swing of it and want to make an even bigger impact, you can do what I did here and add a secondary colour. Being another warm colour, the velvet ottoman in Mustard was the perfect choice for this room. For green sofas, I find a lighter shade of sage works well as a backdrop”.

Paint your ceilings

“I think the first thing homeowners think of when wanting more colour is what shade they should paint their walls. I’m always looking for ways to do things differently and I love that painted ceilings are becoming popular again. This is a really updated and on-trend way to add bold colours to your space and works well in all rooms of the home, in my opinion”.

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Image: Formmakers via Pinterest

“Painting the ceiling can be done one of two ways - either just applying colour to the ceiling, or bringing the colour down the walls slightly, for a more contemporary feel. If I was decorating a really characterful property, I’d be led by the details which could mean taking the colour down to picture frame height. In more modern houses and new builds, you can either fake this with panelling or create really nice contrasts with boxy, neat lines”.

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3 reasons to try bold colours

  • You’ve already been thinking about other people’s colourful homes and inspo saved to your Pinterest boards and Instagram folders
  • Your style has changed and you want it to better match your personality 
  • You’re ready to step out of your comfort zone and impress guests

How do you mix bold colours?

Mix bold colours in your home by working within the same tonal family. Tried and tested bold colour combinations include: pink/yellow, blue/yellow, black/blue, orange/pink, blue/pink and green/pink.

What colours are trending for interiors?

This year, colours trending for interiors are either bright and bold - punchy yellows, bright pink, and cobalt blue, or toned-down earthy retro colours - terracotta red, olive green and off-white bone.
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