Own the room


Now is the time to decorate for you, not your guests, says Telegraph interiors journalist Jessica Doyle


It’s a known phenomenon that a time of upheaval and stress is often followed by a period of playfulness and positivity in design. Take the glamour and style of the Roaring Twenties after the First World War, for example, or the explosion of creativity that characterised the Festival of Britain in 1951 after the years of austerity that followed the Second World War. 


As we emerge from the shock of the pandemic, there is similarly a new confidence in the way colour and pattern are being used within the home. After years of safe greys and neutrals dominating interior decor, we are entering a time where joyful colours and patterns are being employed to express a feeling of freedom and hope.


One unforeseen advantage from months of lockdowns and restrictions is that, rather than decorating with an eye to what other people might think, we are more likely to have decorated for our own pleasure. After all, why worry about whether your decor conforms to perceived ‘good taste’ when you’re the only one who’s going to see it? As we start to welcome people into our homes again, that sense of self-expression and willingness to own our own style could be a lasting legacy.


As Harlequin’s creative director Claire Vallis points out, the worlds of fashion and interiors are increasingly merging, and maximalist style has also appeared on the catwalk. ‘People have been embracing print on print in fashion,’ she says, ‘with brands such as Gucci leading the way with that look. There’s a joy in those prints.’ 


The big question, though, at a time when we have never before been presented with so much choice when it comes to home furnishings, is how to identify what brings you joy, and imprint your own personality on your home. 


Research carried out for Harlequin by Professors of Colour Science Stephen Westland and Soojin Lee of Leeds University showed that colours affect us both physically and emotionally. Although certain colours are widely accepted to have particular properties - for example, blue is associated with a sense of calm and tranquility, while red is thought to bring energy - our emotional response to any colour will depend on our own personal connection with it. 


Claire Vallis suggests the best way to decide on a decorating scheme is to identify how you want to feel in a room - whether it’s a space where you will be entertaining, working or relaxing, for instance - and which colours and patterns evoke that feeling for you. Look at things you already own, such as artworks or accessories that you love, pieces of furniture that you want to keep, and clothes in your wardrobe that make you feel good: as she puts it, ‘If you love wearing it, why not have it in your home?’ Mix patterns and colours in a room as you would if you were accessorising an outfit: ‘We need to remember how to tune into our intuition.’


It’s an approach to decorating that focuses on freedom, fun and individual expression. And, right now, what could feel more uplifting and empowering than that?

posted on 19 Jul 2021 by Jessica Doyle

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