Decorating your new home – A case study of colours


Monday 5th December 2011

Interior design expert Elizabeth Bishop describes a recent client commission:

Many requests that I receive from potential clients are a shout for help to choose the colours for their house. My most current project is to advise my client on the colour scheme for the interior and exterior of their newly purchased property. The age of the property is 18th century and is a country cottage style in appearance, but the principles work equally well on a new-build home.

My client's paint preference is Farrow and Ball, not for the prestige value but for their exquisite range of colour palette which is also very reminiscent of the 18th-century colour scheme with a contemporary twist. At the same time as deciding on colour, the builders are in and completely renovating the house. With its low ceilings and small cottage-style windows, there is not much to see apart from rubble and a missing lower staircase in a dimly lit house.

My client wanted to choose her colours along with selecting the fabrics for her window dressings at the same time. This is extremely advisable to ensure both paint colour and fabrics work in harmony with each other and are matched correctly.

We started with the study, as her husband works away for six months of the year intermittently and she has requested that he must have red walls. I advised that red walls are very acceptable but not for the whole room as this may not only give the appearance of a smaller, more closed in space but may be a little overwhelming in an environment needed for working.

Villa Nova Norwood printTo ensure maximum light enters the room, I suggested a Roman blind to maximise the width of the windows and also that it will double up as a stylish window dressing. We chose a fabric from the Villa Nova ( range by the name of Norwood (see photo), which incorporates fern cones and a stunning leaf design in a colourway of red and two shades of grey. This was a sure winner with my client as the red would work with the feature walls in red and also the name of the house is "The Firs", so is of sentimental value too.

I therefore suggested that the window wall is a shade of grey to harmonise with the grey print in the fabric, more importantly, the grey walls standing back and allowing the red in the fabric to take centre stage. As stated, the red can then be incorporated into the two main feature walls and to keep the woodwork in off-white throughout the house, as my client has opted for rustic wooden flooring.

For the lounge, my client had already purchased some vintage floral-design curtains in the Laura Ashley ( sale, which features the traditional rose pattern in hues of peach and pink with a bold rustic red rose as the central pattern. I suggested picking out the lighter shade of peach in the fabric to incorporate on the walls but adding a darker shade of cappuccino as a feature wall where the fireplace is situated, to ensure that the bold rustic red is the main feature but ensuring that the fireplace is elegantly featured as well. The selected colour is also warming for a lounge environment and also good for reflecting light, to enhance that which enters the room naturally in daylight and synthetic lighting at night. When choosing colours for a house, daylight and evening lighting most certainly need to be considered, especially in an older property.

With a Cath Kidston-style teacup-print blind from the Clarke and Clarke ( range in duck-egg blue in the kitchen, featuring pastel blues, pinks and creams, and with a dove-grey kitchen suite, the obvious choice to me was to go one shade lighter than the units to ensure that this created a more open-plan environment, harmonising the units with the walls and also working with my client's wish that her blind be the focal point of the room. For the exterior I selected a folly green for the front door to remain in keeping with the era and also to compliments the "Firs" theme. For woodwork, I selected a clotted cream colour throughout.

So, the importance of choosing colour in your home should not be decided upon randomly as you will need to consider the age of the property and the colour scheme from its era and the amount of light that enters the house. A lighter colour will always attract light and open up a room, whereas a darker shade will close in a room making it appear smaller in appearance. However, a dark colour can be used for a feature wall, which will be an exciting feature to your home. Don't forget, work with the colours in the fabric and bring out the least obvious hue in the fabric and select as your paint colour choice for your walls.

Written by Elizabeth Bishop (

If you're looking to purchase a new-build property, there's no time like the present to make an appointment to visit a show home on a new homes development. At this time of year, there's a good chance that the housebuilder will have a special offer to entice you to buy before Christmas. A show home viewing is also a great way to pick up the latest interior style trends. Among the great new homes schemes for sale at present with inspiring show homes are: