decorating tips,home inspiration,Good HousekeepingRoom decorated with grey
Let the Grand Designs guru tempt you away from preconceived ideas about colour schemes and decorating. This is your chance to experiment with colour ideas that are guaranteed to transform your home...
Kevin says...\'Blue-ish greys are military and came into their own as World War I battleship camouflage. The really interesting greys, however, are those made with purple. They have a warm, brownish cast that flatters flesh tones and brings natural woodsy materials to life. They\'re not popular, but they should be.\'
It\'s all about tone
decorating tips,home inspiration,Good HousekeepingRoom decorated with grey and bright chairs
Kevin says: \'It might seem obvious, but it\'s worth illustrating how a dash of colour can wake up a moribund idea. Cover up the greenish chairs and the room looks dead. Reveal them and it looks a mite healthier. What\'s not obvious is that using one strong colour in a monochrome scheme is difficult to do. This green is yellowish mixed with a little grey to bring it closer to the pallor of the room. A red, blue or orange would need to be equally toned in order to strike up a friendship here.\'
Go for dark, not for black
decorating tips,home inspiration,Good HousekeepingRoom with navy blue doors and a purple sofa
Kevin says: \'There\'s no such thing as true black. Everything is imbued with a drop of colour. A filament light bulb will make black paint paper-brown, a northern blue sky will turn it inky blue, a painted room will reflect its colour on to black and change it. So my advice is to give up and use a very dark colour instead, which will be more yielding and tolerant. Although the other colours in this room are riotous, the shade of blue is so powerful that it tells them to shut up and behave.\'
A colour that\'s like fine wine
decorating tips,home inspiration,Good HousekeepingRoom decorated in a classic French style
Kevin says: \'On my list marked fastidious obsessions\', getting the right fine old French grey comes pretty high on the list. If you were a colour expert, you could take some chalk-white casein distemper, add raw umber and a little raw siena and you\'d be there. Note I didn\'t mention black there - when you mix black and white the resulting colour is so cold you might as well call it blue. No, for a good grey, go greenish and go with earth colours. Fine complex colours are the tinctorial equivalent of a fine old French wine.\'
Under the influence
decorating tips,home inspiration,Good HousekeepingRoom decorated with natural shades of blue and stone
Kevin says: \'Often the most stimulating colour combinations come from strong cultural influences - from the environment, from food or from nature. Here\'s a pretty worldly palette: one of stone and sea and earth and sky.\'
Natural versus synthetic
decorating tips,home inspiration,Good HousekeepingRoom decorated with pink walls and yellow chairs
Kevin says: \'The hardest colours to get right are the four optical primaries: red, blue, yellow and green. The colours that will make your life a positive misery are tints of those colours. Most modern paints are coloured with a limited range of powerful synthetic dyes. The most interesting colours are those made with muddy, traditional earth pigments or complex arrangements of colourants. The best pinks - those that change colour under different lighting conditions - are those on the cusp of red and purple, made with red oxide pigments. The best yellows or creams - those that can withstand bluish northern light and never look green - are made with yellow ochre. Fired Earth (0845 366 0400) is a good source of natural-looking colours.\'
A colour narrative
decorating tips,home inspiration,Good HousekeepingRoom decorated in cool, pale shades of yellow
Kevin says: \'The decades of the 20th century can each be marked by a palette or group of palettes. Just as it\'s possible to talk about 1970s design and 1920s architecture, it\'s as though each 10-year period decided the colours it wanted to wear. This is a fanciful idea, but there is a sort of colour narrative that runs through the last century. The grey and brown-tinged 1930s and 1940s gave way to a tentative exuberance after the war that didn\'t fully flower until the psychedelia of the mid 1960s. The scheme here sits - in its sources, at least, because it\'s a modern repro scheme - somewhere in the 1950s. The yellows are cool and pale - and so are the blues.\'
The power of blue
decorating tips,home inspiration,Good HousekeepingRoom decorated with photos
Kevin says:\'Brown can take any colour scheme, tie it down, root it to the ground and, if you\'re not careful, drag it deep underground. It\'s a shade that needs lifting. It needs to be cheered up occasionally, dressed up and taken out for a spin. Shown a bit of blue sky, maybe. Sometimes the blue is inky or the colour of washed out indigo. Occasionally it\'s slightly green-tinged and watery. But the blue here is atmospheric. It\'s a tint of ultramarine blue, which sits slightly to the purple side of the purest blue you can find: cobalt blue - one of a happy elite band of blues that reminds you of what the sky can occasionally look like.\'
Strong match, powerful effect
decorating tips,home inspiration,Good HousekeepingRoom decorated using muted red and green
Kevin says... Never underestimate the importance of putting red and green together. They\'re complementaries, and so fire each other off, even when a little muted as they are here. For centuries they\'ve battled in a love-hate relationship, ever since they were introduced to each other in the designs of 17th-century Mughal textiles. These fabrics, destined to influence designs into the 21st century, were decorated with rose and leaf patterns on an off-white background - exactly like the colours shown here.