The BS-free guide to using colour in your home
Brushing aside the out-dated 'rules' and pretentious jargon, Caroline Foran brings you what you really need to know about tones, hues and pops
Let's get one thing straight: within the world of interiors, there exists a lot of unnecessary and poetic hyperbole surrounding colour, and more specifically, paint. For example, it's not grey; it's 'Elephant's Breath', and it's not simply taupe, it's 'Mouse's Back'. 'Dead Salmon' warrants a special chortle (we're looking at you, Farrow & Ball).
Yes, there are certainly more than 50 shades of grey to choose from, so, differentiating them is important. But even those who dream up these whimsical monikers will admit to a certain level of BS. They just won't let me quote them here. There are also lots of hard and fast 'rules' around colour, what works and what doesn't, be it paint or soft furnishings.
Before you embark on your own colour curation challenge at home, take note; here's what's worth knowing and what doesn't matter a damn...
Sometimes less is more
The idea that you should never use dark colours in a small or dark room is one that gets thrown about a lot. While it's true that some paint colours are receding (creating the illusion of more space) and others are advancing (the opposite), sometimes you are best off embracing the limitations of space. A receding colour (pale blues and greys and whites) isn't going to make a massive difference to a downstairs toilet, for example. And white walls won't do much for a room with minimal light, you might just emphasise it. You can create a warmer, cosier and more interesting atmosphere with bolder and darker hues, relying on superficial lighting. A dark grey wall could work a treat with brighter frames and prints.
A tale of the tape
More and more, Irish homeowners are embracing splashes of personality on their walls, be it a block colour feature wall or something more adventurous, such as a neon stripe that wraps around the room - or a patterned decal which is becoming more and more popular in kids' rooms. The most important thing, for all paint jobs, is good quality tape. There's no point investing in luxury paints if you'll struggle to get that flawless, professional finish with cheap masking tape. Your local DIY store will have paint-appropriate options that won't pull away the paint underneath and make the job seamless and stress free. Don't underestimate the importance of this tape, especially for skirting boards - you'll probably spend longer taping up than actually painting but it will make your life so much easier in the long run.
Mind if I cut in?
Cutting in is simply fancy terminology for painting the edges around your wall. You're supposed to do this with a small paint brush, carefully framing your wall before getting to work with your roller, but you can get miniature paint rollers that make this job a whole lot swifter. You'll get right into those corners with ease and be done in half the time. Get your 'cutting in' out of the way first (but not before you've taped up the things that need covering) and then, using your much larger roller, you'll fly through the rest. Work from the top down so you can easily catch drips.
Colour me unusual
These days, colour rules are mostly out the window. Your home should be an eclectic mix of hues that work for your own personality. Should you follow the guides within paint brochures, you run the risk of ending up with more of a showhouse-y vibe. However, if you don't know where to start with curating the colour palette for your room - which includes everything from paint to furniture to accessories - the following can help: colours can certainly clash and contrast (and really work!), but they should never be jarring or uncomfortable to look at. Decide on your 'dominant' colour and your 'accent' colour, using the latter in much smaller doses. Complementary colours on the traditional colour wheel can be a helpful reference point (they sit opposite each other), but today, we're a lot braver. A hot pink lamp (accent colour) can work wonderfully against a sultry teal wall (dominant colour), while neutrals elsewhere will help to balance the room and give your eyes a break. Other popular accent colours right now include chartreuse; a word with notions, used to describe a limey mustard.
No more full suites
Time was, you'd buy a full settee in matching fabric and a dining table with chairs that all share the same wood tones. The thought of having a lighter wooden coffee table within arm's length of a walnut dining table was the ultimate interior decor faux pas and would send your granny into orbit. Again, BS in 2017. A mix of grains and finishes when it comes to your wood is a lot more welcoming and homely. Same goes for your sofa and armchairs. Fall in love with individual pieces that sit happily together and work for you, as opposed to taking home a corner of your local showroom. And for the ultimate boho aesthetic, the rule about matching patterns and prints was made to be broken. Trust your instincts; if you love your curation, that's all that matters.