Camden Apartment by Luke Edward Hall

Terrified of

Pandora Sykes explains why you have nothing to fear.

Rachel Chudley, Simon Upton for AD

A London townhouse, designed by Rachel Chudley embraces colour in the subtlest of ways. Image by Simon Upton for Architectural Digest.

Welcome, chromophobes! Now firstly, don’t panic. You’re the one that has to live in your home, so no need to add colour or pattern if you don’t fancy it. (A friend of mine is so committed to the monochromatic life, that she even considers stripes too loud). Just because the new maximalism of Luke Edward Hall and Rachel Chudley and the neo-chintzy revival popularised by Mrs Alice looks sensational in photographs, it doesn’t mean you need to do it, nor that it would even work in your home. I can also imagine (I have leopard print curtains, I’m clearly not in this camp) that embracing colour when you’ve spent the past decade welcoming Zara Home-like minimalism can be daunting.

For those who want to tentatively dip a toe into a more painterly palette, I have some tips. Remember that ‘colour’ doesn’t have to mean primary brights. Chocolate brown, gold, pale pink, khaki green, butterscotch, buttery yellow and dark red - the sultrier, earthier end of the colour wheel - all look gorgeous in a home and complement each other effortlessly. A dark brown velvet sofa, an old tan leather chair, a rusty orange rug from Nordic Knots or a slubby mustard cushion from Ferm Living are good concessions for a neutralista to make and so much warmer than grey, which can feel corporate and uncosy.

Profumo Luchino by Luke Edward Hall
New Maximalism

Profumo Luchino, a home fragrance collection by Luke Edward Hall in collaboration with Ginori 1735.

Walls can also offer a subtle uplift. Instead of bright white, how about Farrow and Ball’s White Tie (a buttery take on white), Hay (a buttery take on yellow) or Setting Plaster (an industry favourite, a sort of putty pink which miraculously goes with everything.) Sustainable paint brand Coat’s Little Mochi and Truffle are good sludgy colours, try their handy ‘Earthy Neutral Paint Sample pack’ for a stress-free way in. Bauwerk’s limewash paint is also a popular one for a subtle, plaster-like wash - although be warned, it calls for expert application and doesn’t take well to small handprints.

Despite my friend’s antipathy, I also find stripes a handy neutral. My kitchen sofa is a thin red and white stripe and goes with every other colour and pattern that’s been chucked at it. Generally, the thinner the stripe, the more subtle the impact. Buchanan Studio’s chunky stripes for example are great for the maximalists, while Tinsmiths ticking is much quieter. Another tip to introduce colour in a subtle way comes via my mother: green goes with everything, because it is the colour of nature. I must have absorbed it via osmosis because of the three paintings I’ve bought as an adult, all three are green.

Lastly, you can’t go wrong with a big vintage vase, like a vintage Murano one or drip-glaze pottery. An old wooden table on top of a plain jute rug is instantly energised by a big vase in an interesting glaze. If you’re looking for inspo of how to make it work together, look up East Sussex gallery, McCully and Crane and you’ll find a masterclass in colourful art and objets in a peaceful, neutral setting.

Hotel les Deux Gares by Luke Edward Hall

Details at Hotel les Deux Gares, designed by Luke Edward Hall.

Fairytale wallpapers - where the eclectic meets the romantic. Design by Droulers Architecture; Imagery by Pietro Savorelli.