How to use colour and pattern in your home like a pro

Article by Simply You

Colour is the backdrop to our lives; Carpet Court ambassador Jane Carolan explains how to make the most of it, starting with your floors


How to use colour and pattern in your home like a pro

No matter what the product in your home, whether it be paint, wallpaper, hardfloors or carpet, picking a foundation colour is key. It doesn’t matter if the environment is to be highly coloured or soft and muted, understanding colour principles helps.

Start by picking a palette of colours for your space. Stick to three, and change them as you move through that space. Flooring acts as the foundation, so if it’s a strong coloured patterned vinyl or a textured painted wooden floor, bring that colour up and weave it into fabrics and furnishing; balance it with lighter or darker versions or its complementary shade.

For those who want to start embracing colour, I suggest keeping your floor neutral, as this could be costly and time consuming to change if you have second thoughts. Have that as your anchor colour and then add a bold and a lighter version to that palette. Use the strongest colour as your accent and the lighter version as your wall colour.

Paint is the last thing that goes on, and is the easiest thing to change if it’s wrong. When deciding on a colour, paint a portion of a wall to determine how you feel about that colour in the space. Don’t paint entirely over the existing one. Both colours will interact and respond to each other, which will affect how you see each colour. I always tell my clients to surround the colour with newspaper, so you are seeing the colour against a neutral grey.



Dark rooms or hallways don’t have to be painted bright or white. This can actually highlight a lack of light. If a hallway gets little natural light, I often paint it a slightly deeper colour than other spaces. By doing this you are creating a “spine” and adding depth and structure to your palette. We don’t use  hallways for entertaining, so they can be bolder, to provide balance to lighter, airier rooms.



Dark rooms

If you have a dark room, give it warmth by using soft, muted tones – the “end of the day” colours – warm blush pinks, claret reds, ochres, and soft grey blues or muted greens with hints of moss and lichen. Think of the slightly diffused colours of a sunset, and that is the palette you want to pick.



Wallpaper-inspired patterns transform ordinarily upholstered furnishings. A pattern that is intricately graphic is best reserved for a monochrome scheme. The key to incorporating graphic colour blocking is filtering it with warm velvet and monochrome pieces. We’re also seeing a surge in idris embroidery, an intricate pattern.



Small spaces

Don’t be small-minded in small spaces. You want to create an illusion, so either over-compensate with bold patterns and subtle colour, or reverse the typical room scheme and have a bold base colour and subtle fabrics and furniture choice.


Symbolising serenity, calmness and relaxation, sky blue immediately evokes wide open spaces. Soft duck egg blue offers tranquillity and peacefulness, so it’s a great colour for bedrooms and bathrooms. Blue can change a space from warm to cool. The trick is to stay away from pastel or clear blues. Darker blues can often evoke a feeling of sadness for some people, so I don’t recommend them as a main colour, but they can be used to provide a rich and inviting accent.

Yellow is a compelling colour, but used incorrectly it can appear sickening. Its hues can evoke feelings of anger and frustration but it can also be cheery and uplifting. Think back to nature, where yellow is often muted and muddied.

Named the colour of the year by Pantone, green can incorporate both the cooling agents of blue and the heat of yellow, and offers a freshness that other colours can’t give. It is restful and relaxing, so it is suited to any room. Use mossy and olive greens on walls, cabinetry or soft furnishings. These pair seamlessly with other earthy mid tones, such as potters’ clay, spicy mustard, or brittle (a deeper cast of mustard seed). Brass or tan leather bring warmth and energy to a palette grounded by earthy greens.

Neutrals generally contain the full colours of the spectrum, so they work with everything. If used correctly, neutrals play on light and shadow, line and form, rather than colour change. Add colour as an accent to liven things up, or subtract it to calm things down.

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Photography by: Jason Busch/

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