Interiors advice - using colours with confidence

PUBLISHED: 00:00 12 February 2015

Use colours with confidence

Use colours with confidence


Lakeland interior designer Alison Tordoff tells us how to use colours with confidence

Spring is on the way, one of my favourite times of the year, as colour comes back into our lives. But how well can you handle colour?

Audrey Hepburn, who was never seen in mis-matching colours, took the theme for her whole life, and would eat by colour to maintain a good balanced diet.

But apart from eating your greens – and blues – you need to know how to use colour confidently in design, Putting together complementary colours and creating a balance of hues, and the strength of colour can make or break the look you are wanting to achieve.

A quick science lesson: colour is derived from the spectrum of light and has three components – lightness, saturation, and hue. With these components, we get the theory of colour. The lightness is based on light versus dark, or white versus black. Saturation is based on the brightness v dullness, or warmth v coolness of the colour. Hues are what make the colour we see and name.

What matters more to us is the impact of colour. There is actually a treatment – chromatherapy – which uses the effect of colour to bring about physical and other changes, and has proven health benefits. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right colours to have around us. But what’s “right” is always personal preference.

So even though I love spring, and gardens filled with bright yellow daffodils, I don’t particularly like yellow as a colour. But it is making an impact on the design scene now, and there are ways to warm to it. For me, it has to be muted tones like mustard yellow, or soft creamy custard. My entrance hall is a very rich petrol blue, and to add some spring colour zest I’ve added complimentary muted yellow accents

How do you add the right splashes of colour to give vibrancy and balance? Simple touches can create a stunning effect, and adding colour to your interiors can really enhance the enjoyment of your space, whether it’s energising, uplifting or calming. Do you know, for example, that prison cells now tend to be painted a soft pink for its calming effect on the inmates?

In commercial environments colour can be really exploited to create visual impact and draw the eye, enhancing a company’s visual branding, but this would not necessarily be applied in the same way for your home, where you’re living with the effect day after day.

If you have a particular item with a colour you love, you can have it scanned at a Dulux Decorating Centre where they will choose the best colour match from over 14,000 colours.

I also love the smudgy colours and fluidity of the Boeme range of accessories which are all made in Lancaster.

These websites might help you make the right choices.

Basic Colour Wheel

Colour Psychology

Alison Tordoff runs Fidget, the international award winning interior design company. She lives in Windermere with musician husband Richard, and children.

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