Letter: Colour me happy

This month, continuing our 25th anniversary year of celebration, we’ve taken a closer look at pattern and colour – two things that I believe no happy home should be without, but that many avoid for fear of getting it wrong. Admittedly, the wholesale adoption of pattern, as seen in our shoot on p137 [April 2014 edition], is a rather larger commitment than merely contemplating a nice new cushion – but as our biannual Pattern Books prove repeatedly, there are so many fabulous prints out there that it’s almost a crime not to choose at least one for use somewhere in your home. My only caveat is that wallpapers work to maximum effect when applied to a single wall that’s uninterrupted by doors, windows, alcoves or funny angles, while fabric is best contained as a signature piece of upholstery or drapery, or as a repeated detail via smaller accessories.

But when it comes to the use of colour, I get very excited. My personal mantra has always been to think of paint like make-up: easy to apply, fun to use, simple to change, so what have you got to lose? I love the stage in any redecoration project when that first roller full of a new hue hits the wall. It’s such an optimistic moment as you witness rooms being almost instantly updated or completely transformed. So why are so many people afraid of it? As the French artist Fernand Léger once said: ‘Man needs colour to live; it’s just as necessary an element as fire and water.’ Indeed, colour has the power to affect our emotions, to soothe or excite. It can render rooms cool and calming, or heat them up. The point being, if you don’t use colour, you deny yourself the opportunity to make your home really work for you. And when I speak of ‘colour’, I don’t mean going all out on a vivid orange lounge or crimson bedroom; the subtlest tones can have an enormous impact too. Lest we forget, the study of colour therapy dates back to the ancient cultures of Egypt, China and India, so it’s not just interior design waffle! Put simply, the energy relating to each of the seven core colours of the spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet) is said to resonate with the seven main chakras, or energy centres, of the body. In short, colour can heal – physically, spiritually and emotionally. So if this issue inspires you to do one thing this spring, let it be to investigate which colours you really love and then go for it. Be brave and paint a wall today; I guarantee it’ll make you happy.

PS We singled out indigo as our hue of choice for this month’s Palette (see p114), as it’s the colour that relates to the brow chakra, which is associated with individual responsibility, integrity and trusting one’s intuition. No surprise, then, that this is a universally appreciated colour, utterly timeless and a historical favourite.

PPS It’s always best to build up to using colour one wall, ceiling or surface at a time. I recommend working it as complete walls – that is, paint your skirting boards and any decorative rails or trims too. Don’t just frame patches of plaster, paint the whole damn thing!


First published as my Editor’s Letter in the April 2014 edition of ELLE Decoration UK

ELLE Decoration Subscriber cover April 2014

ELLE Decoration Subscriber cover April 2014



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