This month has been cold. I don’t know about you, but when the weather gets cold I just want to surround myself in rich colours; the thought of a white on white house makes me shiver (with cold, discontent, restlessness … etc.). Having said that, I think there are certain rooms that suit being wintery and snug all year, and others that work as lovely crisp, clarified spaces even in the cold. Part of this relates to the room’s use, and the other part relates to its aspect. A bright, white kitchen flooded in winter sun works. A deep, dark tv room tucked away from the blazing summer heat is a complete retreat. I am definitely one for colour eccentricity, and I think a house in many colours can be just as coherent as one that shuns them all. The most important thing is to make each colour suit its room and function, and after that, anything goes.
It does seem a bit odd, writing an article about colour on a colour that is a balanced combination of grey and beige, but alas, when we’re talking about houses we can’t be talking of rich, jaunty colour all the time now, can we? And let’s face it, most of us are a little reserved (perhaps timid) when it comes to choosing colour for our houses, but this doesn’t mean that the results have to be characterless. In fact, one of my favourite interior styles is derived from French country houses and it just happens to be that these spaces epitomise luxurious grey-beige.
This month I can’t go past this colour. Winter is coming and I am longing for rich, sumptuous, dark rooms that have the ability to somehow both embody and yet defy the blustery, wintery cold. It’s the complexity and depth of this colour that makes it work so well in this way. While pure dark blues can feel cold and dark greens a little stifled and old fashioned, deep blue-greens are just perfect. The green edge warms them, making them feel cosy and enveloping, whilst the blue undertones lift them to a certain level of elegance. For this reason, teal is a much more flexible colour than either of its parts alone. It can sway between coastal, country, bohemian, or Parisian-chic. It has the ability to work within many spaces of all sorts of influences.
Donkey Brown is a reasonably loose shade – meaning that you can use it a bit lighter, a bit darker, a bit greyer, a bit more saturated, or as a perfectly medium tone depending on your space. I used a classic medium tone for my lounge room, but one with quite a lot of brown in it. I tried the more grey versions and they just didn’t give me that unctuous feeling I was after. Below are a few examples of colours worth experimenting with, and how they look once luxuriously lathered over walls.
This month, because I can’t decide on one (and because I just came across the most amazing range of paints by Marston & Langinger) I’ve decided to feature a collection of colours.
This month I decided to be really bold and feature … white! In one way it seems a bit inside out and backward to feature such a colour here – in a realm that is all about rich saturation, depth, and character – and yet in another it seems essential given white’s huge popularity and its vast array of subtle undertones that can be close to imperceptible to identify and therefore implement to the untrained eye. So here I feature cool white, if not purely as an exploration of just one side of white’s character. I’d say that there are at least several broad categories of white that I could deal with, but starting with this one just seems right on a warm, sunny, breezy October day like today.
Oh dear Lord. Sometimes I really think I belong in another place – aka, England, France, some other part of Europe, etc etc. It’s as though my English/Irish Heritage is really catching up to me now, and I simply need to be around these sort of spaces (I won’t go into my potential Punjabi heritage here, for that would only confuse things, although it does explain my constant talk of sunshine and heat…).
In 1965, Bunny and Paul Mellon built and decorated this incredible slice of French paradise designed by architect H. Page Cross in the heart of New York. The pair had a formidable sense of style and grace, owning several stunning estates, all of whom continue to exude the most enviable sense of warm and comfortable sophistication. The interiors of their Manhattan townhouse are the result of serious collaboration between several heavy weight designers, including [but not limited to] Paul Leonard, William Strom, John Fowler, Bruce Budd, and Bunny herself. The house is not only architecturally wonderful, but full of the character that years of collected art and furniture bring to a space. It really is a sight to be seen, and when I stumbled across the house via Architectural Digest and Sotherby’s real estate (up for sale for the at once ludicrous and yet absolutely deserved and dignified $43M) I fell into the world of late 20C New York interior design, and to be honest I would rather never retreat… Ahh, if only!
I’m not sure why it’s taken me quite so long to feature this colour; it is one of my personal favourites (you might recongnise it on this website!) and a wonderfully versatile shade. Eau de Nil is inherently restful and calming, evocative of the seaside, pristine springtime flowers, and fresh morning dew. It works with so many varying interior styles precisely because of this broad reference base. And despite its beautiful watery blue-green lustre, it really is almost a neutral, and so can sit comfortably as a backdrop to many interior settings. Furthermore, Eau de Nil is ractually more of a colour palette than an individual hue – ranging from fresh greens to watery blues – and can therefore be applied in any one of its incarnations as suited to your space.
Even the best of us architects are unable to defy the beguiling glances of rigorous, pure, geometric forms. Nor can we honestly turn away from the alluring lustre of robust, masculine, metallic things. And I do not believe for a moment that we are capable of retreating from shiny, wondrously lit objects…
In many ways then, it’s not surprising that lighting is such a fascinating and delicious thing to all of us. It doesn’t t simply come down to the form of the object itself either – as designers and live-rs in this world we know and want for the power of inviting, soul-warming light, and we know that there is no such thing a a meager substitute for a perfectly lit room.
I recently read an article which said that one of the biggest mistakes DIYers make in updating their interiors is in choosing yellow as a wall colour. Well, this upset me! I mean, I can see where one might go wrong in this department, but when it’s right, it’s so right. So I thought I’d better put together some options for those of you who are as awed by yellow as me, but aren’t exactly sure of how to use it. As as you might imagine, dealing with yellow walls is a matter of selecting the right kind of shade, and as a general rule, a bold, primary yellow just won’t work – we so want to ensure after all that you don’t end up living in a lego house! If you do love bright, bold yellows, consider choosing furniture or soft furnishings in these shades, as they’ll be less dominating, and yet just as powerful a design element.
This month I have the pleasure of exploring the many and varied effects of Le Corbusier’s Ombre Naturelle. It is an immense, deep grey with warm undertones.
Ombre Naturelle embodies several characters, and is therefore an amazingly flexible colour choice. By it’s nature, it exudes opulence, and in formal living areas will provide a fabulous sense of old world sophistication. Along side crisp whites, neat geometric forms and modernist fittings it shifts to exuding confident masculinity. Yet up against rustic elements it begins to look more natural, evoking memories of Scandinavian woodlands, at once wild, cosy and crisp.
I am so excited to begin the Colour of the Month series! For the first few editions (at least) I’m going to go with colours from Le Corbusier’s Polychromie architectural, purely because it contains the most fabulous and reliably delicious range of colours. All were deveolped by Le Corbusier in the mid twentieth century after [30!] years of testing and careful consideration. I have very closely translated these colours into actual paint colours by Resene so that you can lather your walls with confidence.