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HOW TO: USE STRONG COLOUR

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Oct 8, 2015

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Ten years ago the fashionable interior was predominantly white, with a few natural coloured accessories to soften the hard edges. These days the most stylish interiors sport spots of bright colour like red, pink, purple and orange, or high-drama colours like charcoal, navy and black. If you like the thought of adding stronger colour to your life, but are not sure where to start, here are a few inspirational ideas:

Brighten up that accent wall

Making one wall in a room an ‘accent wall’ is common currency: it’s quick to do and the effect can be striking. But many people choose an inoffensive neutral print in a soft colour that rather undermines the idea of having an accent wall in the first place. So go for broke: pick your favourite bright colour, perhaps paired it with a bold pattern, and let that colour sing. This is what an accent wall could look like (and if you change your mind it won’t be that hard to undo).

Made.com, Charlotte Chappell

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Start small

Strong colour is undeniably exhilarating but it’s also a little intimidating so start by using your favourite bold colour in a small way. Try combining a striking accessory such as a floor lamp with a contemporary art print that picks up but doesn’t exactly match its colour. The juxtaposition enhances each piece, and the strong-colour effect is amplified but is not overpowering. The effect becomes sculptural, almost architectural.

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Shop the Cohen Collection.

Take colour to the next level

If two strikingly coloured pieces work so stylishly together imagine how thrilling several pieces grouped together would be. Small clusters of boldly coloured accessories neatly get around the one-bright-piece-of-furniture-stranded-in-a-sea-of-white effect that is so common. If you’re going to make a statement with colour, then really make it.

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Mix spots of strong colour

Can’t choose a favourite strong colour? Then don’t even try. Use several at the same time in multiple small doses to create an exciting mix that’s almost artistic in its boldness and confidence. The example here shows orange, black, white, hot pink, sky blue and sunshine yellow. That’s a lot of colour going on but the effect isn’t overpowering because each individual piece is relatively small.

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Find your dark side

Already got a bold accent wall but are thinking of taking it to the next level? Well, this example shows how an accent wall can work when it’s painted almost black. This is perfect for fans of neutral colours because it allows them to stick with a natural colour, here charcoal grey, but amplify its effect. Notice how accessories actually stand out rather than disappear into the dark background.

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Subvert brights and darks

Remember that blue table surrounded by multicoloured chairs? Well, here’s a set-up that takes the idea of bright colour and then mixes it with strong colour. If this room had been decorated only with darks it might have looked a little gloomy, large window notwithstanding. The addition of a hot pink fire surround and trestle table legs adds a peppy jolt to the scene that’s ultra modern and deliberately subversive.

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Contrast dark against white

If you’re ready to take strong colour all around a room remember that you don’t have to cover entire walls if you don’t want to. On the contrary, keeping some features such as architraves, shelves or shutters light or white knocks the edge off what could otherwise be overbearing. A dynamic white horizontal shelf unit that slices across a dark wall isn’t just functional. It also prevents the darker wall visually receding too far.

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For a softer effect

If you’re not quite ready to leave behind your favourite neutrals, then you don’t have to, of course. But you can still dip a toe into the trend for strong colour. Just cover one or two pieces in brights that come in a touchable texture such as linen, wool, hide or mohair and you can join the trend in a softer, quieter way.

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Showcase your lights

This is a less obvious reason to paint your surroundings a powerful colour but it’s a good one: dark backgrounds are the ideal way to showcase filament light bulbs which tend to disappear against white. Hang them against strong colours like brown, black, grey and blue and those golden filaments glow like a dream.

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