Help with colour schemes - Introducing Designer in a Box
7 min read
Published 28 Aug 2021
An interior designer can help you with many aspects of renovating or upgrading your home, but one of the most popular (and fun) services we offer is to help a client choose their colour schemes. Colour, in particular, seems to be the thing that scares people the most - clients tell me they are worried that they will choose the wrong shade to go with everything else in their room, or worried that the colour won’t look at all like it does in the tin (or in the carefully touched up photos on the paint companies' websites). This is understandable, as everyone reacts to colour in a personal way, and we can all relate to the experience of looking through paint charts and feeling overwhelmed, or choosing one colour we love only to have doubts about it the next day.
It’s easy to get confused by terms like ‘undertone', 'hue' and 'shade’, and the idea of having to choose a warm colour over a cool colour can often leave us cold. You might know that your favourite colour is green, but there are literally thousands of green paint colours to choose from and they all seem so similar on the paint chart. You could pick a colour because you like the name of it (we’ve all done it, but it’s a bit like choosing a smaller size of jeans because you can get them on, and going down a size makes you feel great - but once you are wearing them no one knows or cares what the label says).
It’s really not that expensive to paint a room, so in one sense the risks of getting it wrong are small - as I often say ‘it’s only paint, you can paint over it if you don’t like it’. But what if you have the decorator coming next week, and they need a decision from you now? With things the way they are at the moment, you don’t want to be waiting months for your decorator to be available to do the work, only to find that once you’ve had the room painted you hate the colour. The costs of decorating can soon add up, but even if you decide to decorate yourself, you’ll have wasted a whole weekend if you don’t like the results. Then you’d have to find the energy to do it all over again, and choose another paint colour!
So what help is there for choosing colour schemes with confidence? There is a lot of online guidance out there - a quick search will show many websites explaining the ‘rules’ of choosing colours, but a lot of the time they leave us feeling just as confused as we were before we read them. How can you really tell if it’s a warm colour, or if it's from the Spring colour palette?Then there are the websites which tell you all about the colour trends. You could go for the colour of the year - but what if you don’t like lavender? (which is hotly tipped to be the next colour of the year by the way). Colour trends can be a useful starting point, but your home is unique to you and you don’t necessarily want to use the same colour scheme as your next door neighbours.
Even if you manage to find the perfect shade, what other colours should you use with it? Then what about where to use the colours? When I am choosing colours with my clients, the next question they ask me is ‘where should I put the colour? All four walls or just a feature wall? What about the ceiling? The skirting boards? The coving? There are an endless number of decisions to make, and it’s no wonder it gets overwhelming and we end up feeling stuck.
So what can you do to avoid costly mistakes? You could ask an interior designer for help as most will offer some sort of colour consultation, but sometimes their fees can push your budget over the edge. In my case, I love to help as many people as I can, but there are only so many hours in the day and I really can’t fit in everyone who comes to me for advice. Rather than turn potential clients away and leave them with nothing, I started thinking about other ways I could help them. What if I could take my colour knowledge and make it available to everyone who wanted it?
This is when I came up with the idea for Designer in a Box. I could offer colour schemes which I’ve created, which are tried and tested, and I know work well, but can also be adapted to suit the needs of each person and their colour preferences. It would be like having me, your own personal designer, choosing colour schemes for you, but in a box that you can buy.
So I spent a lot of time carefully choosing the colour schemes for these boxes based on colours I know my clients love. I chose eight main colours, three coordinating colours and a toning off white to go with each main colour. These five colours make up a scheme which is guaranteed to work together, and by using my knowledge of undertones and colour theory to create harmony, I’ve taken away the worry that this shade of blue won’t sit nicely next to that shade of green.
When I design any room scheme, I always think about and ask my clients how they would like their rooms to feel, and I realised that Designer in a Box should be no different. From the eight colour schemes, I created both light and dark versions of each one for you to choose from. If you prefer your rooms to be gorgeously rich with cosy colours which hug you, then the dark colour scheme is for you. If you like your rooms to feel fresh and bright, then the cheerful lighter schemes are made for you.
A colourful, dark and gorgeous room
|A light, fresh and colourful room|
I have chosen colours which resonate with me, and if you like my design style they will be perfect for you too. But, even though my style is there in the colour choices, I wanted Designer in a Box to be more than just a colour palette, I wanted it to be able to help you use the colours in your room. The main problem clients have is deciding where and how to use the colours in a scheme, so I created an example room design for all sixteen boxes. I explain where I’ve used each paint colour, and I also include a sketch of the room so that you can see how all the colours work together and the overall effect they could create.
The explanations I give you mean that you can open the box and start putting your room together with confidence straight away. The example room scheme is just one way to use the colours in your box, but there are many other options for using these five colours together. I’ve added a sheet with guidance and suggestions on alternative ways to decorate your room, and how to use the colours as a basis for choosing other items, such as wallpapers, fabrics and sofas. You could buy one box and use it as plan for decorating your whole house, or because I’ve carefully chosen the colour schemes to work together, you could buy a box for each room, knowing that the overall look will be harmonious.
I could have made these colour schemes available as a download on my website, but I wanted to make life as easy for you as possible. I decided to make up a box which includes tester pots of each colour, and some lining paper with a paint brush so you can try out the colours immediately. For all the paint colours, I’ve used a brand that I trust and recommend to all of my clients, because it covers well and offers gorgeous colours with consistent results on the wall. There is also plenty of paint in each tester pot so you can try the colours out in other rooms too.
Okay, you might be thinking this sounds like a great idea, but how do you know which Designer in a Box scheme is right for you? There are two ways to decide. If you know that you’d like your main colour to be say, teal, and that you like darker colour schemes, then you would choose the Dark Teal box. Or, if you would like help deciding which box will contain a colour scheme you’ll love, then I’ve made a handy quiz which asks the right questions to get you to your perfect result.
The words 'Designer in a Box' and the Designer in a Box logo are registered trademarks, numbers UK00003621242 and UK00003618327 respectively.
Welcome to the design blog, where you'll see posts about anything from the projects we are working on, to the latest fabric and wallpaper collections, and all things interiors related. We love colour, pattern, architecture and old buildings, and we love to share our finds with you.
All that glistens - antique copper from Soho Lighting
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Paint made from olive stones?
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Recycled yarn given a new life
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kirkby design's latest range is a happy collection that not only looks good but does good too. Created using 100% recycled cotton yarn from the fashion industry these eco-conscious prints are the perfect way to bring a splash of colour into your home this Autumn.
Shower curtains can be cool too
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Beautiful outdoor lighting
28 Jul 2023
|Outdoor lighting is not usually something to get excited about. But this new collection from Soho Lighting is beautiful, and in on trend but timeless brass. Inspired by the Chelsea Flower Show and designed to compliment any style of planting, there are three new lights in this collection. They are all made in Britain and you can take a closer look here.|
The perfect combo
28 Jun 2023
|We often have lighting combinations in our rooms (such as kitchens) where some lights need to be dimmable, (say over the dining table) and others need to be a functional on or off switch. The clever people at Dowsing & Reynolds have combined these types of switches into one plate, which is not only practical but stylish too. You can see the range of switches and finishes available here.|
Rebel Walls x Jack Kinsey
28 May 2023
|If you are a fan of the BBC's Interior Design Masters, you'll recognise Jack Kinsey, the runner up in the final of this year's show. He was our favourite to win, and is incredibly talented. It's lovely to see him team up with one of our wallpaper suppliers, Rebel Walls, to create a hand painted bespoke mural collection which brings the best of the past into the present. You can see the collab here.|
Heritage tiles from House of Hackney
28 Apr 2023
|One of my favourite maximalist brands, House of Hackney, have released a stunning new collection of heritage tiles based on their most popular floral design, Artemis. They are hand made and traditionally glazed, and come in a rainbow of signature House of Hackney colours. You can buy the tiles here.|
Fired Earth x Nina Campbell
28 Mar 2023
|One of the best known interior designers, Nina Campbell, has collaborated with one of my favourite tile suppliers, Fired Earth, to produce an elegant range of beautifully patterned tiles, and a complementary range of understated plains. They are designed in her signature style, and are very easy to mix and match to create a relaxed look in your home. You can see the collection here.|
New National Trust wallpapers
28 Feb 2023
|A new collaboration from Little Greene and the National Trust, a collection of wallpapers spanning over 200 years of decoration. The designs have been created from original papers found at three of The National Trust's historic houses, and printed using traditional techniques. The collection includes hand painted birds and stylised florals, and comes in 45 colour ways. You can buy the collection here.|
More pattern joy!
28 Jan 2023
|New from one of my favourite wallpaper suppliers, Woodchip & Magnolia, comes a long awaited collection of 18 bold and beautiful cushions. Inspired by some of their best selling wallpaper designs, they are made in tactile velvet and feature a pattern on one side and a coordinating plain on the other. You can see the collection here.|
New colours from Fenwick & Tilbrook
28 Nov 2022
|One of my favourite paint suppliers, Fenwick & Tilbrook, have just released 5 new colours. Named lovely things like Tarnished Brass and Spring Puffin, these warm, muted shades have been mixed by eye and are perfect for creating cosy, cosseting homes. You can see all their colours here.|
Out of this world lighting
28 Oct 2022
|It just so happens that I'm excited by newness from Mullan Lighting again this month. They have launched a fabulous colourful series of wall lights, with celestial names like Mars, Neptune and Jupiter, and I just LOVE the use of colour in them. You can see the range here.|
Introducing sustainable pendants from Mullan Lighting
28 Sep 2022
|The brand new Altus and Betty ranges of pendants from Mullan Lighting are beautiful, but we are also excited about them because they are handcrafted from rattan and abaca, which are sustainably sourced materials. You can see the Altus collection here, and the Betty collection here.|
Whipping up a storm
28 Aug 2022
|A colourful innovation from stylish flooring brand Alternative Flooring - you can now add a colour of your choice to the edges of any stair carpet runner they are making for you, taking whipped edges from ordinary to full of fun.|
A responsibly made lamp
28 Jul 2022
|New from lighting brand HouseOf, a responsibly made eco table lamp. Made from recyclable and waste materials, and designed and made in London, they will even take it back within the next ten years in exchange for 20% off another one of their products. You can learn more here.|
Corduroy is cool again
28 Jun 2022
|A new fabric from Kirkby Design called Sculpt includes these deep pile cotton velvets which look just like large versions of corduroy. The look takes me right back to my childhood, and is very comforting. You can see the collection here.|
Colourful, wonderful boucle fabric
28 May 2022
|The trend for super soft Boucle fabric is still going strong, but up until now we've mostly seen it in creams and whites. One of my favourite fabric suppliers, Linwood, has produced a new colourful collection of 48 shades. It's a durable and soft fabric, and works particularly well on sofas and cushions.|
28 Apr 2022
|This month, we were pleased as punch to receive the Best Homes & Interiors award from the prestigious Cardiff Life Awards. Cardiff Life Magazine are well-known champions of our city, and the annual awards celebrate the best of Cardiff talent, so we are over the moon to be named 2022 winners!|
Morris & Co. X Ben Pentreath
28 Mar 2022
|The designs of William Morris have made a comeback over recent years, and now they have been given a striking makeover by interior designer Ben Pentreath. The Queen Square Collection has reimagined some of Morris's most famous fabrics and wallpapers in rich tones and vibrant colourways. You can see the collection here.|
28 Feb 2022
|One of my favourite design houses, Woodchip & Magnolia, have gone all out for the all over pattern trend and produced wallpapers and fabrics in the same prints, which I love. You can see the whole stunning collection here.|
New fabric collection from Prestigious Textiles
28 Jan 2022
|A new collection of sumptuous fabrics has just been released from Prestigious Textiles, called Monsoon. The collection includes tactile velvets, animal motifs, embroideries and beautiful sheers, so it's versatile enough to use anywhere in your home. If you'd like to know more about these fabrics, please get in touch.|
New reeded glass pendants from Mullan Lighitng
28 Nov 2021
|Lighting designers and manufacturers Mullan Lighting have a new range of reeded glass pendant lights available. These Mid Century inspired lights come in three shapes and four finishes, but the Nahla (the one pictured above) is my favourite. You can see the range here.|
Little Greene and Bert & May join forces
28 Oct 2021
Little Greene has announced a collaboration with tile brand Bert & May. The collection sees eight gorgeous Little Greene shades translated onto tiles, giving you even more opportunity to add colour, texture, and a mix of materials to every area of your home. I love this bathroom combination above, with the perfectly matched tiles and paint offset with touches of terracotta, mustard and oak. You can see the full collection here.
Dulux colour of the year - Bright Skies
29 Sep 2021
So, Dulux have announced their colour of the year for next year, and here it is! Bright Skies is described as the 'breath of fresh air' that we all need after being indoors for so long. What do you think? I'm reserving judgement at the moment. It looks a little cold in the picture, but I don't think the beige sofa and the styling are doing it any favours here. Maybe colour drenched (painted on walls, ceilings, trims and doors) and with some warmer burgundies and terracotta, it could be lovely. You can buy the colour here.
A new home collection from Paloma Faith
28 Aug 2021
|British singer songwriter Paloma Faith has recently launched her first collection for the home. It includes wallpapers, fabrics, cushions and bedding, and she describes the look as 'faded grandeur and retro maximalism'. The prints are everything I love - dramatic, colourful and fun, and you can see more of the collection here.|
It's all about soft yellows
28 Jul 2021
|I was watching an Instagram live post from The Little Greene Paint Company last week, and they were discussing a comeback for yellow. Now, as you know, I don't think you have to follow the trends but yellow hasn't been fashionable for a long time, so this sunny, uplifting shade is often overlooked. A warm yellow like Little Green's Carys (above) is perfect for cheering us all up, and you can buy it here.|
The cushion that gives back
28 Jun 2021
|Introducing the cushion that gives back, from homewares company Oka. They have produced this cushion in partnership with The Trussell Trust who support two thirds of the UK's food banks, and 100% of the proceeds from sales of this lovely green velvet cushion will be donated by Oka to The Trussell Trust. It comes in a range of other colours too, and you can buy the cushion here.|
A beautiful new tile collection inspired by the National Trust
28 May 2021
|Just launched, Ca Pietra a new tile collection in collaboration with the National Trust. Every tile has been inspired by one of the historic properties, gardens or coastlines looked after by the Trust, and a minimum of £10,000 from sales of the tiles will be given to the National Trust to help them continue their important work. You can see the collection here.|
Yummy new switch & socket colours
28 Apr 2021
|Did you ever think that your light switches were good enough to eat? I'm guessing the answer is no, until now. You can now buy switches and sockets in these gorgeous colours from the new Dowsing & Reynolds Cafe Culture collection. They come in luscious shades like Cinnamon, Caramel Latte and Whipped Cream, so you can tone, coordinate or contrast with your wall colours and make every part of your interior scheme look delicious. You can buy the gorgeousness from here.|
A sustainable fabric choice
29 Mar 2021
|A beautiful new sustainable fabric range from Clarke and Clarke has just been launched. It's made entirely from recycled materials so you can refresh your home with a clear conscience. You can have a look at the fabric here. Get in touch with me if you'd like to buy any of this fabric.|
Sought & Styled - Preloved items given new life
28 Feb 2021
|This month I want to highlight a business run by a very talented lady I met a few years ago (remember when we could meet people?) Not only is she a creative interior designer, she also runs an online shop where she reuses and repurposes anything from soft furnishings to larger furniture items. Everything sold is bespoke and unique, and is effortlessly waste conscious because it's being used again. You can visit her shop here.|
Do kitchen worktops bore you?
27 Jan 2021
|Thanks to a genius idea from kings of pattern Blackpop, you can now have one of their colourful designs on your kitchen worktop. They will put any of their funky fabric or wallpaper designs onto waterproof MDF to make you a unique worktop, or they can even make a design just for you. Chopping will never look the same again! You can buy the worktops from their website here.|
A Fresh Take - Cardiff Life feature
18 Dec 2020
|This month's issue of Cardiff Life Magazine is out today, and features an interiors special, because one thing this past year has made us do is take a new look at our homes and how we'd like to live in them. To see what I and other local interiors experts have to say on the subject, including a round up of the trends for 2021, have a flick through the digital mag here.|
An enchanting inaugural wallpaper collection from Tom Baker
26 Nov 2020
|This opulent and atmospheric wallpaper from Tom Baker immerses you in a world of tropical flora, fauna and exotic animals. With soft cool tones and hints of pink floral detailing, this is the perfect wallpaper to add a relaxing and exciting edge to your home. Find this enchanting collection here.|
A new shady collaboration between Matthew Williamson and Pooky
20 Oct 2020
|The humble lampshade is often overlooked, but with the new collaboration between Pooky and Matthew Williamson they won't be for much longer! Matthew Williamson has applied his talent to design a new range of Pooky lampshades. Whatever your taste, colour scheme or budget you will find the perfect lampshade for your home in this new collection which is now available. This spectacular new collection can be found here.|
Felt covered curtain poles
17 Sep 2020
Now you can add some texture to your window dressing with these Walcot House felt covered poles. The pure wool coverings come with a option for bronze or steel fittings and wide spans up to six metres. The curtain track is cleverly hidden within the wooden curtain pole and there's a choice of nearly 50 colours and textures. You can find out more here.
Please vote for my blog
11 Aug 2020
|I'm really thrilled to have been nominated for an Amara Interiors Blog Award this year! If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to vote for me, I'm nominated in the Best Interior Designer Blog category, and you can vote for me here.|
Upcoming interiors trends from Love Rugs
10 Jul 2020
|Love Rugs, the people who know about all things rugs have just published a feature on the upcoming interiors trends for 2020. They asked six of the UK's top interior designers (including me!) to tell them what the upcoming trends are, and in particular the changes we will be making to their homes. The article can be read here, and if you'd like to have a look at the huge range of rugs they offer, click here.|
A new fabric collection from Linwood Fabrics
15 Jun 2020
|I love Linwood fabrics - they have a fab way of mixing colour and pattern into something really special, producing fabrics and wallpapers that make me want to coo. This new collection, available at the end of June, is just as gorgeous. It's called Kami, with the pattern inspired by a 19th Century document. The collection is a range of printed velvets, so perfect for upholstery and accessories like cushions.|
An easy way to update your kitchen
16 Apr 2020
|If you are looking to update your existing Ikea kitchen rather than replace it, Stockholm based company Superfront are here to help. They sell a range of fronts, handles, legs and tops to fit not just the Faktum kitchen range but also the Besta, Metod and Pax ranges - so you can customise anything from your sideboard to your wardrobe. These super cute round handles are part of their new birch collection, and the whole range can be found here|
Move over boring taps - colour is the new black
13 Mar 2020
|Colour has been taking over our kitchens and bathrooms for a while now (yay!), and has slowly been creeping into sanitaryware and fittings. These perfectly coloured mint green and pastel pink taps from the new Miami Colour Pop Collection from amazing homeware brand Dowsing & Reynolds are spot on and would look gorgeous in any kitchen or bathroom to add a shot of colour without overwhelming with sugary sweetness. You can learn more about this new collection here.|
Who knew a door stop could look this good?
19 Feb 2020
|Door stops are one of those little annoying things that we all need, but are not the prettiest to look at. Now London based Buster & Punch have turned their attention to the problem and transformed the humble door stop into something cool and covetable. They might cost more than your average one from a DIY store, but as you're going to see it every day, why not look at something beautiful? here.|
Wallpaper made of cork?
29 Oct 2019
|Sustainability and concern for our environment are key in the interiors world right now (as they should be). So when I saw that Monkey Puzzle Tree (a brand I admire for their sense of style and creativity) had produced this wallpaper made of cork, I was blown away. Cork is great for so many reasons - it can be harvested every nine years without harming the tree, is grown without the need for pesticides or fertilisers, has excellent sound and heat insulation properties, and is naturally antimicrobial and antifungal. This wallpaper has an A+ rating for emissions so it creates a healthy environment wherever it is hung. Add to this that the design was produced in collaboration with the talented Drew Millward who lives in my home county of West Yorkshire, and that it's called 'Hit The North', I was bound to fall in love with it. You can buy the wallpaper here.|
I'm in Cardiff Life magazine - again!
17 Sep 2019
Now that the summer is officially over and our thoughts turn to cosying up our homes for winter, I'm here to help. If you're in need of some inspiration, you can read all about the interiors trends for Autumn and how to work them into your home in this month's Cardiff Life magazine. Hear what I and other interiors experts have to say on pages 18-22. You can read the digital version of the magazine here.
I've been nominated for an Amara Interiors blog award!
6 Sep 2019
|Exciting news! My little blog (Design Insider) has been nominated for an Amara Interiors Blog award! I'm so chuffed to be included at all, and not expecting to win, but if you enjoy reading my blog posts then please vote for me. I'm nominated for the Best Interior Designer blog category. Voting is open until the 11th of September and you can vote for me here.|
My kitchen project featured on the Artifact Lighting blog!
1 Aug 2019
When I designed the contemporary copper kitchen, I wanted to use some copper elements to add warmth and also to tone in with the pink walls and pale grey units. I found these pendant lights from a company called Artifact Lighting, and they are perfect because they add to the 'warm glow' I wanted to acheive. They also have a vintage look which contrasts nicely with the sleek look of the kitchen units. When the kitchen was finished I sent some pictures to Artifact Lighting, and they liked the kitchen so much they featured it on the blog page of their website.
You can read the blog page here
House of Hackney's first outdoor fabric
26 Jun 2019
One of my favourite interiors brands, House of Hackney, who are known for their daring and quirky prints, have just released a new fabric which is suitable for our door use. They took one of their designs, Palmeral, and reimagined it in a fresh colour palette of off white and green. This colour fast and water resistant fabric can be used for anything from outdoor cushions to furnishing yachts (if you are lucky enough to have one!)
My thoughts on the colour Living Coral in Cardiff Life Magazine
31 May 2019
|Hear what I and my fellow designers have got to say about Pantone's colour of the year, Living Coral, and how to use it, in this month's Cardiff Life magazine. The article is on pages 84-86, and you can read it here. Do you think you could use it in your home?|
Sustainability in furniture design
7 May 2019
|Sustainability is something that is becoming more and more important in interior design - not just where we buy items from and how far they've travelled to get to us, but also the materials that they are made from. Kartell, one of Italy's best known design brands, have just released the world's first piece of furniture made from a bioplastic called Bio-On. It's a fully sustainable version of one of their best selling items - the Componibili modular unit, and it comes in four delicious pastel shades. They may be 100% sustainable, but they are also super cute and bang on trend with this seasons colours. You can buy them here|
The latest trend in shutters
24 Feb 2019
Forget painted shutters - the new style direction for window shutters is bare wood. These full height shutters made from sustainably sourced ash are the newest product from California Shutters, and are set to be big this year.
My new favourite tile!
7 Feb 2019
I was searching for some tiles for a client's splashback recently and came across these beauties from Topps Tiles. There's long been a trend for patterned tiles, with lots of geometric shapes and bold colours going on, but I've begun to see more and more tiles with a pattern in the surface of the tile itself. These ones are a lovely example, and the deep blue colour is just stunning. To get a closer look at them, follow the link below.
Pantone announce their colour of the year 2019
11 Dec 2018
Leading colour experts Pantone have annouced the shade which they think will be the colour of the year for next year - Coral pink. It might look very bright and scary, but it's actually quite easy to use. I wouldn't suggest painting a whole room in it, as that might be a bit overwhelming, but I would use it in small doses, such as on cushions or in artwork, to liven up a shceme. Pantone say that the colour is meant to 'embrace us with warmth and nourishment and provide comfort and bouyancy in our continually shifting envirnoment', which basically means it's a happy, uplifting colour, and might just cheer us all up!
My work featured on Homify
8 Oct 2018
My work has been featured in an article on Homify - one of the leading online ideas platforms for all things interiors. My project is in an article on how to avoid common mistakes when designing a bedroom. The article mentions how important it is to block out light for a good nights sleep - something I addressed by adding blackout lining to the curtains and adding an extra layer of window dressing with the wooden Venetian blinds. To see the article, please use the link below.