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


Picture courtesy of Sunday Mail YOU magazine

Picture courtesy of Sunday Mail YOU magazine

Some things to remember when choosing colour

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!

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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Can you be all things to all people?

Posted in Black, Branding, colour, colour - psychology, colour and branding, colour schemes, Gold, Graphic design, graphic design colour, Interior design, white on April 2nd, 2013 by Bernay

Over the Easter weekend I took a trip up to London. Playing at being a tourist for the day, a friend and I decided to visit perhaps the most famous ‘corner shop’ of all – Harrods.


harrods sphinx


O.k., it’s still glamorous and as ostentatious as it always was and we had a great time having a look round, but I didn’t feel that I was in a store that represented the best of shopping in London, but rather at times a museum of Egypt!

food halls

What has happened to Harrods the brand? The ornate and glamorous interiors that we expect of the store are there but have no common thread or theme between them. One minute you’re faced with sphinxes and grandiose faux ancient Egyptian architecture, the next the glossy black and white of the perfumery halls or the opulence of the Arts and Crafts style food halls. It’s still an exciting and interesting place to visit but after a while I felt quite overwhelmed. What or who is Harrods?

If our homes are an extension of who we are, then the interior décor of a business, retail or corporate environment should also be designed to reflect its personality and values. (NB. not necessarily that of its’ owner).

Can you be all things to all people?

Harrods list their brand values as: quintessentially British, eccentric, pioneering, decadent, exclusive, excellence, cutting edge, luxurious, sophisticated, aspirational, elite, value, innovative, iconic, sensational, sublime.

My goodness, that’s aiming at a lot of things for a lot of people! If I left a bit dazed and disorientated, feeling as if I’d just stepped off from some theme park carousel ride. I wondered, do many people stay long enough to fully appreciate this ‘sublime’ shopping experience? Maybe that is now the attraction of Harrods – a high intensity sensory fix, a beautiful if slightly surreal fairground.

The Harrods motto is Omnia Omnibus UbiqueAll Things for All People, Everywhere. But is that always the best and most successful approach?


Colour and branding

It is the ‘Harrods green’ which alludes to a sense of tradition that’s quintessentially British, added to which the colour gold gives it a luxurious element. But that familiar and successful combination sadly seems mostly discarded in favour of black, white and grey which feature heavily on the Harrods website and its shopping bags; colours that many other luxury branding retailers choose.  Whilst those colours certainly communicate cutting edge sophistication, I sense confusion about the brand which is reflected throughout the store.

Don’t confuse the customer!

Colour is emotive and will persuade your customers to buy in to your brand. To create a great brand message that follows from the logo through all communications including a business or retail environment, consistency of your brand colours are vital to create trust. Or how can you expect your customers to understand who or what you are?

 You might like to read my ‘3 quick tips for colour and branding’!

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