Colours in Property Styling : An art or just fluke ?
It almost seems like it’s luck or pure coincidence, whilst gazing at properties that have been freshly styled by a professional stylist – from the neutral, but yet warm colour palettes on the walls, the carefully picked pieces of colourful artwork, the delicately selected props, the fresh looking vignettes on the kitchen bench, the dining room table centrepieces, right down to the pretty cushions finding their way on couches, or better still, a throw rug working its magic along fresh bed linen or a bedroom chair. All hard and soft furnishings seem to blend in and on song with one another. You may just ask yourself: “is this just a fluke?”
The answer is simply “no”. There lies a very fine line between “fluking” it, and actually knowing how to bring everything together in property styling. Whilst it may take months to actually master such an art for the DIY amateurs, most professional stylists would already have the “know how”, through either an accreditation in property styling or simply “on the job” training.
Knowing and working with colours is a must for a stylist. Colours are the foundation and very basics of every styling job; they are part and parcel, and are at the forefront of every single styling project.
So why do property stylists generally recommend painting walls white, off white, cream or beige? Introducing white and neutrals into your home creates a mood of relaxation and refinement and a space that anyone can walk into and feel comfortable, without questioning the palette.
Neutralising your walls gives a perfect blank canvas for beautiful splashes of colour in cushions, artwork, flowers and throws. It creates a sense of space in a room and usually lets in plenty of natural light. Besides whites offering so many options to work with, they are often an amazing tool for tired, dark or small interiors. White works with any other colour choice and can be used to create a contemporary feel, when mixed with blacks and greys, or create a warm and softer look, when mixed with browns and beiges.
But how do we choose the right white? Cool whites have a blue undertone and can look clinical and stark but do work well in normally well-lit areas that get lots of sun. Typically the cooler colours tend to lend themselves more to the contemporary modern homes. Warm whites have a yellow, brown or pink undertone and work well to inject softness and create a cosy atmosphere. The warmer colours are more suited to warmer home styles that are a little more traditional. Biscuit tones can have a heavy yellow or pink base and tend to have a dated feel to them. Brown and red under toned paints are more contemporary. I quite often recommend Dulux Whisper White, which is a warm white, and works beautifully in both new builds and mid century homes as does Dulux Vivid White, which is a cool white.
I particularly love the warm greys. Greys can also be either cool or warm colours. Just don’t opt for a very pale grey as it may end up looking like a dirty white. Greys can result in a casual and relaxed look or even chic and elegant. Resene Sea Fog has a beautiful depth of colour and is quite contemporary.
Beige is warmer than white and can be the perfect backdrop for darker furniture and artwork especially when used with white trims and accessories to give it life. Dulux White Duck is a classic example of this. Avoid too much yellow base, as this will appear dated.
My pet hate is what I call builders yellow! The old Chalk USA is a culprit of this. My heart sinks when I walk into a newly built display home and it feels yellow. Even the most contemporary finishes can look old when the paint has an overly yellow feel to it.
The other thing to keep in mind is where to stop painting. Do you paint the trims and the ceiling a different colour? What about the doorframes and the doors?
The one colour trick was mastered by the Scandi style where all the ceilings, walls, doors, door frames and architraves were painted white. This makes small spaces have less visual breaks and appear much larger and less cluttered. The alternative to this is to highlight the wall colour by framing it. This can be done by keeping the doors, frames and all other vertical surfaces a separate colour and is perfect for medium to large size rooms. This can also be achieved by using a percentage shade of the wall colour for a softer touch.
The most important thing to consider when choosing a colour is how it looks in both natural and artificial light. The colour of your globes can throw blue, yellow or even a cold stark light, and totally change the look and feel of a room.
With all the above being said, the difference of living in a home with your personal touches and taste is more than fine, but if you were to sell, be sure to neutralise it to ensure it appeals to as many people as possible. This is the difference between dwelling and selling. Gone are featured walls and painting each room in a different colour. Invest in some time in learning about various colours and applying colours confidently throughout your home. Be like a child at play. As a property stylist, I never leave home without my colour swatch. I live and breathe by it. Believe me, it’s fun !!! And when the time comes to list your home on the real estate market, it’s one costly expense that you won’t need to worry about.