50 ways with grey and other colour conundrums

Posted in choosing paint colours, colour, colour - psychology, colour schemes, colour schemes decorating, colour training, colour trends, colour-psychology, decorating colour ideas, Interior design on May 23rd, 2014 by Bernay

KLC Heals 2

An enjoyable time this week at Heal’s Design Day threw up some interesting customer ‘colour conundrums’ from Homes & Gardens magazine readers for me to solve.

Held at Heal’s store in Tottenham Court Road and in conjunction with KLC School of Design, readers were invited to come along with their decorating and design dilemmas.

Two main key themes emerged – those that were looking for inspiration on where to start with colouring a ‘blank canvas’ home, and those that were struggling with how to work the current trend for grey.

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The blank canvas

One of the best tips I can give for finding inspiration for decorating your home, is to create a mood board.

Collecting pictures, photos, and scraps of textiles that you like, and mounting them on a good size piece of card will help you to focus your thoughts and ideas about what you like.

You may find recurring themes of shapes, patterns, textures and colours which will give you some good pointers as to how to develop your own style. From there, you can collect swatches of fabric, wallpaper and paint samples inspired by your collection.

Painting yourself in to a corner

Grey is often described under the category of ‘neutral’ colours and as it’s essentially a mix of black and white, it can add some sophistication to a colour scheme. But, although grey is currently a colour trend, I have met an increasing number of people that have painted themselves in to a bit of a corner by decorating the whole room in it and realised that they haven’t felt quite comfortable – but don’t know why.

You only have to picture a gloomy grey sky with little light to imagine the dampening effect it might have on your mood. Similarly, too much of this colour will have that effect on how you feel in your home.

grey and green       grey and orange       grey and pink

Grey is however, an excellent background colour from which to ‘bounce’ other vibrant and interesting colours – and this is the key for how to make it work. If decorating with grey, choose a lively accent colour, one that perhaps is brighter and more dynamic  to bring your scheme to life.

From peppy reds to zingy orange, lime and yellow colours – choosing a more assertive colour to complement grey will add visual interest and create an eye-catching scheme.

Would you like to learn the secrets of creating a successful colour scheme?

Come and join me at the next Colour Psychology for Interior Design course – July 2014. More details here.


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How not to make the same decorating mistakes as Kate Middleton!

Posted in choosing paint colours, colour, colour schemes decorating, decorating colour ideas, Interior design on March 23rd, 2014 by Bernay


Image courtesy of YOU magazine

Image courtesy of YOU magazine

Putting together a decorating scheme should be an enjoyable exercise for any couple creating their new home. But, if like Kate you’re finding that buttercup paint colour which seemed so fabulous daubed on the wall looks more like acid lemon – I have some tips to help you avoid making the same mistake again!

Apparently, Kate tried to colour match a Farrow & Ball colour with a Dulux colour. This can be a cost-saving exercise, but be aware, some paint companies offer a ‘colour matching’ service when what they’re really offering is a colour match that is ‘closest to’ a colour that they have in their own range. This – as possibly happened to Kate – can mean that the colour you thought you bought will look quite different when you get it home and on the walls!

Some things to remember when choosing colour

When it comes to choosing colour, there are no strict rules but there are many factors to take into consideration. Architecture, the purpose, shape and direction of a room and above all light, should be taken into account as they will contribute to the changing appearance of colours.

Pay attention to how the light moves through your house and the effect it has at different times of the day. For instance, if you are decorating a dining room which is mostly used in the evening, check colours in evening light to ensure you get your desired look.

Try before you buy. Before making your final colour choice, test selected paint colours in the room to be decorated. But, don’t be tempted to paint out your pots of colour samples all together on one wall. The appearance of a colour can be changed by a colour next to it, and your eye will become confused looking at so many different colours together. You’ll not be able to judge which ones you like so easily. Paint your sample out onto a piece of paper, card or even the inside of a shoe box and place it in the room to be decorated looking at how the colour changes at different times of the day.

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Creating space with colour – the Dulux colour collection for 2014

Posted in choosing paint colours, colour, colour - psychology, colour schemes, colour schemes decorating, colour trends, decorating colour ideas, Interior design, Trends on November 25th, 2013 by Bernay

Akzo Nobel brand Dulux paint have revealed their 5 colour trends for 2014: Silent Revolution, Margin of Proof, Urban Folk, Secret Garden and Do it Now!

Trend and colour forecasting agencies have become an established and vital part of business and industry. Their purpose is to predict future customer buying patterns based on emerging social, economic and design trends, and thus help to guide designers and manufacturers to meet their anticipated customer needs.

Akzo Nobel, who develop their own trend forecasts, have presented their concept colour collection for 2014 in their guide  ‘Colour Futures’.  Built around an overall concept named ‘Unlocking Potential’, Akzo Nobel “See a world in search of answers, which provides us with an open and exciting palette of colours to inspire renewal in the year ahead. We are in a time of great change and in order to capitalise on new and exciting opportunities we must understand who we are and how we fit into the new order of things. By looking afresh at what we have we can unlock the potential that surrounds us”.

They have interpreted these trend findings in to a collection of largely muted colours – generally favoured by the paint industry for the British market – which features a large proportion of warm and cool, light tints, tones and shades. There are also some rich and intense colours and a few more upbeat clear and bright ones too.

Here are the 5 colour stories as developed by Akzo Nobel, with a brief summation of the inspiration for each concept.

collection  collection 2

Silent Revolution  

The concept for this palette is brought about by the idea of creating a ‘personal space’ to develop thoughts and creativity, and design which is starting to become more understated and thoughtful – and celebrates simplicity.

This palette of predominantly clean, crisp, icy tints and subtle, soft whites and neutral tones will create a visual feeling of lightness and space which can feel quite soothing. A neutral or natural colour scheme offers simplicity and is a classic and enduring, soft look.

collection 1  collection 2

Margin of Proof

The pressure to be the best you can be and achieve work/life/health balance requires taking an analytical approach to our fast-paced lives. We find reassurance in a definite mathematical and scientific measurement of our health, lifestyle and performance in an ever changing world.

This is a ‘masculine’ palette of architectural-looking mid-tone, plaster, concrete and brick colours, interspersed with more intense and vibrant shades giving the palette a sharper, graphical edge.

collection 1  collection 2

Urban Folk

This  palette of mostly warm, rich earthy shades with a few light/mid soft tones, represents how we find a sense of community by re-connecting with our roots and where we have come from.

Quantities of the population that went to live in the city to work are returning to smaller towns and cities for a better quality of life, but taking new technology with them. There is a sense of emotional connection through things that are created from a fusion of new ideas and technology with old traditions and folklore.


collection 1  collection 2

Secret Garden

These soft, smoky, cool pastel tints and tones represent a romantic and ethereal theme, which explores the idea of harnessing what is ‘barely there’ – something that is fleeting and fragile. Inspired by the work of artists who create work based around the softening aspects of nature, it is feminine and romantic.


collection 1  collection 2

Do it now!

Inspired by urban artists and ‘hack designers’, this is more of an exuberant trend that taps in to the energy of not wanting to wait – but create or change something for the fun of it. An antithesis to building something that stands the test of time, it embraces the impermanence of cheap and throw-away materials to make something imperfect and unrestrained. The mix of brighter more vivid hues suit more upbeat and energetic or youth-orientated environments.

(images courtesy of Akzo Nobel)

Read more about colour trends at London Design week

Read more about colour trends of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s & 1990s


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Colour at the Coronation Festival

Posted in colour, colour - psychology, colour schemes, colour schemes decorating, Gold, Green, Interior design, Purple, Trends on July 12th, 2013 by Bernay

Today I enjoyed a visit to have a look at the exhibition stands of the Royal Warrant holders at the Coronation Festival, set in the beautiful gardens of Buckingham Palace. Here I share some of my favourite images of the day with displays of colour and design themes.

Vivid colour

Eclectic and quirky.



Purple – (the colour of Royalty!).





Mirror mirror on the wall….




Paint effects

About to enjoy a ‘ renaissance’ and a trend we’ll be seeing a lot more of in decorating.





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Colourful kip – Research identifies colours for a decent nights’ sleep

Posted in colour, colour - psychology, colour schemes, colour schemes decorating, decorating colour ideas, Interior design on May 31st, 2013 by Bernay

Hotel chain Travelodge took a peek in to the bedroom sleeping habits of 2,000 homes across the UK to determine how colour affects our ability to sleep.

bedroom blue

Perhaps unsurprisingly, blue is the colour most likely to influence in achieving the most hours’ sleep – 7 hours and 52 minutes!

bedroom green

Closely followed by green at 7 hours and 36 minutes. Both blue and green are essentially calming, reassuring and relaxing colours.

bedroom purple

Purple offered only 5-6 hours’ sleep, the report saying that the reason for this could be that purple is mentally stimulating. It is a colour for activating the ‘higher’ or creative mind – but, as with all of these colours, lighter tints or shades can be less stimulating.

bedroom red

Interestingly, the warmer colours of red, yellow and orange seemed to offer a fair amount of the zzzz’s! Normally quite activating colours, their appeal can be in their cosiness and warmth – colours to snuggle in to.

You can read more about the Travelodge research here.

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