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Think about colour and pattern
Think about where you are going to take your colour inspiration from. Have you got a wonderful rug that you want to start with, or a favourite colour that you want to work with? If a client is really nervous about colour, I’ll say let’s just keep it neutral, but let’s have some colourful cushions. Then I just show them a few fabrics. I always say you don’t have to have lots of colour, you could just cover one chair in a print, and if you hate it, it’s not the end of the world, you can change it.
I usually like to have my sofas and large pieces of furniture in a more neutral tone, because then I can pump them with cushions and use the stronger colours in smaller pieces.
When you’re using different patterns together, mix large and small, and keep away from using too many patterns of the same scale together. You can use a stripe and a check, for example, but if you use one check, stay away from another, unless it’s the same one scaled down. I believe you want one print that brings in a lot of colours, so you don’t end up just using two colours in a room.
Be strategic with paint
If you want a strong colour in a room, it’s useful to have a dado rail so that you can put your strong colour on the upper two thirds of the room and have a neutral or white shade below it, which reduces the strength of that colour by one third. It allows you to use a strong colour without it becoming too much.
In America, more often than here, they paint their woodwork in a strong colour, and then have a lighter colour on the walls. Sometimes the entire room will be painted top to toe in the same colour, which can be rather effective. In England, we somewhat automatically go for off-white paint for the woodwork, but I think it’s fun to mix things up a bit.