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We asked an expert: how to add colour to any home

Nothing affects the mood of a home quite like colour does — that may be why 95% of people are intimidated by having to choose one. The brand-new book The Complete Book of Colourful Interiors aims to change that.


This useful, illustrated volume takes you, step by step, from tones to hues, and answers all of your questions about colour in the home. Which colours suits which spaces? How do I combine the right shades? What’s the matter with white walls? And which colours will make a small space look bigger? With over 200 photos to guide and inspire you along your journey, this book tells you everything you ever wanted to know about colour.


In this teaser, the book’s author, Iris De Feijter, gives DECOVRY members five useful tips on how to go about adding some colour to their home and life.


1. Don’t just choose a colour you like

When choosing a colour, it’s best to start with the question: what do I want to use this space for? And match your palette to the answer. Because colour is more than just decoration; colours have an effect on us, both emotionally and physically. Green, for example, lowers your blood pressure, reduces stress and reassures you — making the colour ideal for a bedroom. Red lends a warm feeling, literally and figuratively. The cosy atmosphere it creates makes people feel a red room to be up to four degrees warmer than it actually is. This means that red can be a great solution for chillier places in the house, such as a restroom that sits by an exterior wall.

© Krista Keltanen


2. White is also a choice

Our fear of colour has caused us to paint our walls white en masse, due to the conviction that it is a neutral canvas, but that’s a bit of a misconception — white is actually rather unsociable and impersonal. Like all colours, white can affect our mood, and not in an altogether positive way. White can, for instance, make you feel tired because it is so bright, and tiring on the eyes. Contrary to what many people think, even vivid colours can bring calm to your interior by softening contrasts. An example: if you place a dark grey couch against a white wall, it will look heavy because of the deviation in tone. But if you give that wall some muted colour, the whole effect becomes softer, calmer, and more harmonious, since the shades compliment each other.

© Martin Solyst


3. One step at a time

Introducing colour into your home does not mean you have to pull out all the stops. Try to make the transition gradual, instead, to give yourself time to get used to colour over time. No need to paint the walls right away: try pops of colour with cushions, curtains, carpets, or furniture; even just a bunch of flowers will do. A plaid is a good option for beginners: it unfolds into a large colour surface that you can fold back up and stash away any time. Another option is to first introduce colour in rooms you don’t use very often, such as the hallway, the restroom or the bathroom.

© Corsico


4. Consider the floor and ceiling

There is more to paint than just walls — floors and ceilings can be good places to add colour, as well. It may sound daring, but the effect is really much milder than a painted wall because the coloured area is below or above eye level, so that your gaze is not drawn directly to it. A colour on the floor will also always look paler than the same colour on a wall, because the light falls on the ground from above. That’s why it’s a good idea to go for a bolder shade, such as yellow. Tip: if you paint the walls and ceiling the same colour in a small room, you will optically enlarge it because the edge between wall and ceiling gets blurred.


© Louis Poulsen


5. Look before you leap

If you’re going to work with colour, make a plan before you head to the paint shop. The easiest way is to make a mood board: put together all the colours you want to use in a room (or in the entire house), and you’ll soon see what works, what doesn’t, or if something is missing. Do not choose the colours based on swatches; buy tester pots. Apply the paint to the wall in several layers until you reach the desired intensity, side by side with the other colours, so that you can see all combinations. One rule of thumb: the fewer different colours, the more peaceful the end result.


© Anitta Behrendt


Want more tips and a heap of inspiration? Shop The Complete Book of Colourful Interiors now for tips, tricks and inspiration. Available in Dutch and English.


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