Do you have to go neutral?
It’s become a modern cliché that neutral decor is not only the best way to sell your home, but almost the only way. Yet it’s really not true that people are blind to anything but oatmeal carpet and magnolia walls, and we’re certainly not faced with buyers looking around the homes of Reigate or Redhill and recoiling in panic the moment they see a room that isn’t cream.
Everybody loves stylish décor, and nobody hates great taste, so the way you decorate your home can certainly help it to sell for the best price, and in the shortest time. The secret with colour is to treat it like make-up: don’t go overboard, and use splashes, dashes, accents and hints to highlight the best features of your home. Just like a drop of hot sauce can make a dish go zing, so a good use of colour can make a home go pop.
Think about boutique hotels in Edinburgh's New Town; or crescents in Bath; or even a London penthouse: colour can provide a unique and luxurious feel in contemporary and traditional homes. It can also make your property photos stand out on property portals, so if you’re frightened of using strong shades, or you’re concerned that your existing décor needs a purge, we've put together some guidelines to help you adopt the right tone.
Although some brave designers are making amazing rooms in solid dark tones (Farrow & Ball's mysterious Inchyra Blue being one of the most gorgeous and popular), for most people a single wall of strong colour is enough. Not only is it easier to style and easier to manage, it gives life and contrast into the bargain by adding a splash of aspirational living to any room. And in the event that someone doesn’t like it, painting a single wall is far more palatable than a total redecoration. So if you have a room with four wonderfully fuchsia walls, take three back to a neutral tone to highlight the power of the pink, without overpowering your viewers. This approach works well for anywhere in the house, with particular tricks depending on the room.
Colours make us feel. From warms, colds, darks and brights to pale pastels and powerful primaries: they each say something to our minds, so think about that when making your choice. A general rule is that blues are cooler and more cerebral; greens are calmer (studies show people heal faster in green painted rooms); yellows are awakening; reds are exciting. It can be useful to find yourself a colour wheel to see the opposite colour to the one you're thinking of using, because small touches of a complementary colour will add sophistication and style to your décor. It's the basic tool of any professional designer and it's easy to employ. Remember to get a test pot first so you can see what colours look like in your home, as they might look different to in the shop.
A strong wall colour looks great behind an array of pictures. Using different types of frames – either hung in blocks or an all-over patchwork – can say a lot about the way a living room is used: a place to enjoy treasured artworks (whether home-made, bought, or gifted), and a as place to feel truly at home (but avoid those holiday pics of sunburnt relatives beaming over an evening sangria). Many people are inspired by others' taste to go on to do their own version of this: how often have you seen an idea on Pinterest and thought: “I love that, but maybe I'd do it against a different colour”? An easy way to ensure a feature wall goes with your furniture is to pick a colour that is either in the family or the opposite family of the colour wheel to your couch. An orange sofa against a dark blue wall is stunning and deliberate, likewise with purple in front of sunshine yellow backdrop. You can add accents such as lamp bases and ceramics to consolidate the sense of style, and perhaps the odd mismatching cushion for a safe blast of bravery.
In some cultures, yellow is the colour of earth, based on the ochre pigments used before chrome emerged out of nineteenth century chemistry. Family kitchens in particular work well with yellows or oranges; their bright citrus tones delivering a dynamic, warm and sunny feel. Or how about a dark grey/navy against white cabinetry for a cool and modern pantry? To accessorise, big mirrors and hanging plants look great on a colour wall, while a suspended pan rack gives you a classic, graphic and artistic display.
A bathroom can really take some colour, although it’s wise to be cautious with your tiles as changing those can be seen as a hassle and expense. But a rich and bold colour in your bathroom can really work some magic, lifting workday routines into wonderful rituals. A plum-velvet wall turns a quick soak into something entirely more decadent, while applying the same colour to the outside of a roll-top tub creates an instant show-stopper. To finish the opulent makeover, add a parlour palm and some deliciously fluffy towels.
A strong dark colour behind the headboard is a classic hotel trick that can make the simplest bed feel like a majestic four-poster. It grounds the room and helps create the sense of a private cosy sanctuary. A luscious red could make a grand statement, while a modern dark navy or grey can be a distance-blurring tool that softens the edges of a room. Again, using a colour wheel, choose contrasting bedside lamps to stand out against the colour, giving their shapes a pleasing silhouette that invites snuggling down and delving into the latest bestseller.
Studies and craft rooms are ripe candidates for colour. A strong shade in an alcove could see flashes of emerald peak out from carefully curates objects and books on open shelves. The latest sewing project, quilt or wonderful fabric hanging against a deep plum or shocking pink. An illustrator may have a dark grey wall with their works-in-progress hanging from a picture rail, making a great visual feature.
So how was that? Are you feeling brave enough to add some colour to your home. If you have a property in Reigate or Redhill and would like any suggestions on toning up without throwing shade, all you need to do is get in touch. We’d love to help.