Some of the most exhilarating rooms are especially important visually because they are decorated around a central theme. The theme becomes the characteristic by which this room is identified and may become the be-all and end-all of the room’s very existence.
But it takes some talent to actually know where the characteristic turns into becoming overwhelming and when to stop rubbing it in. Take colour. Some people decide their living room is going to be centred around red. So they go…. red settee, red curtains, red statement wall, red figurines, red painting – all you see is red. Typically this will be your red room, but the theme has now turned into exaggeration and seeing red is not exciting anymore. Tackle the red colour issue by just using key things around the room to accentuate the colour and have it set against a non-colour – say white, or grey. Use red statement pieces in contrast to grey and white striped wallpaper, which will help off-set the red colour. If you must have a red settee, make sure the curtains are not fighting for attention. You need to have one central red item and the rest will be just echoing the colour through. So tick a yes for red vase with white flowers but tick a no for red table and chairs in the same room.
Say you like black and gold. And you have a bedroom to re-decorate. Black satin sheets and black quilt-cover flecked with gold threads sounds ok, especially if they are lying on a gold-legged bed. Then you may get away with a black suede chaise-longue standing on gold legs. But if you go on to add black and gold curtains, black carpet, black furniture….. you will end up creating a mausoleum. Remember that your key colours need something to offset them. So yes, by all means stick to the black and gold but use stark white and perhaps some leafy greens to create the needed oomph effect for the impact to take off. So the bed needn’t be covered in a black quilt, but a stunning white quilt littered with black/gold cushions will make for impact. Your curtains could be a sheer black and white, instead of a block black colour and this will allow the light in without diminishing the room’s visual impact. If you want to create something with your accessories and paintings that are all themed around black and gold, once again you can opt for a statement wall – fully whitewashed it will allow your black/gold paraphernalia to really stand out for great effect.
Don’t be afraid of colours as long as you know how to deal with them. One of the most fascinating family kitchens I’ve ever seen included green, fuschia pink, orange and purple all in one room, all at one go. The room combined vintage hand-painted furniture pieces, a huge old oak table and much cheer. The homeowner was wise enough to let her favourite colours speak for themselves and didn’t litter the room with designed fabrics. It was all about stunning block colours.
On the other hand if you must have pattern, then check out colours and designs, setting them against each and allowing them to blend in without letting one override the other. That way you may be able to blend in stripes, checks, florals or geometrics effectively.
Ultimately it is all about waiting until you hunt down the right piece, the right item, the right fabric to suit your mood, your room, your ambience. It takes time and some ferreting around, but ultimately, the hunt will be well worth the effort.