In­te­rior de­signer Oliver Heath gives his dec­o­rat­ing tips and tricks to help you im­prove your well­be­ing and cre­ate a home that feels big­ger, cosier and hap­pier

House Beautiful (UK) - - Style Inspiration -

‘Colour has an im­pact on our health and well­be­ing, re­duc­ing stress, aid­ing re­lax­ation and re­cu­per­a­tion, and en­er­gis­ing rooms, to make a home a hap­pier and health­ier place to live,’ says House Beau­ti­ful’s eco de­sign ex­pert Oliver Heath (pic­tured). It’s not just a ques­tion of sur­round­ing your­self with favourite hues; it’s more about se­lect­ing colours we’ve had joy­ful ex­pe­ri­ences with in the past.’


Colours can boost our emo­tions and af­fect our moods:

Blues are rem­i­nis­cent of clear skies or placid pools of wa­ter. They feel both tran­quil and re­lax­ing.

Greens have a calm­ing, restora­tive and in­vig­o­rat­ing ef­fect as they re­flect healthy, lush land­scapes.

Yel­lows re­mind us of the en­rich­ing warmth from the sun’s light, so are won­der­fully up­lift­ing and mood-en­hanc­ing.

Or­anges bring to mind juicy fruits and berries so can be re­as­sur­ing, en­er­gis­ing and stim­u­lat­ing.

Reds are seen in flow­ers, fruits and the heat from fires, so they feel warm, nour­ish­ing and com­fort­ing.


To boost well­be­ing, your home should pro­vide a va­ri­ety of spa­ces that make it easy for you to move around and to mix with fam­ily and friends. Th­ese can in­clude:

Re­lax­ation spa­ces such as lounge ar­eas and bath­rooms that will help you to re­cover from a long day.

Re­treat spa­ces in­clud­ing bed­rooms that al­low for re­cu­per­a­tion and quiet time.

So­cial spa­ces such as the kitchen and gar­den, where we can re­lax, con­gre­gate and share our daily ex­pe­ri­ences.

En­er­gis­ing ac­tive spa­ces such as din­ing and liv­ing rooms for fam­ily times, or as study or workspaces.

Colour can af­fect our phys­i­cal and emo­tional re­sponse, but it’s not the only thing. Light is a key fac­tor in how colour ap­pears so con­sider how nat­u­ral light falls into a space. Nat­u­ral light cre­ates a con­stantly chang­ing spec­trum of colours through­out the day, from warm in the morn­ing, to cool at mid­day and back to warm in the evening. The qual­ity of light in the UK also af­fects the colours we can use.

Mar­i­anne Shilling­ford, cre­ative di­rec­tor at Du­lux, says: ‘Bright, vivid sat­u­rated colour can be jar­ring in our light, but when you add a lit­tle grey, it soft­ens. The fur­ther north you go, the more sub­tle and grey colours be­come, al­most in tune with the land­scape and with the way we see colours out­side. They work be­cause they re­flect the land­scape and that helps us feel at home with them.’

The move to brighter, sharper LED bulbs is open­ing up new colour pal­ettes. ‘One of the rea­sons there’s now a rev­o­lu­tion in grey is be­cause it looks so good in the new kinds of light­ing,’ says Mar­i­anne.


‘Longer wave­length colours such as red, or­ange and yel­low draw the walls in to­wards us and cre­ate a lovely cosy at­mos­phere,’ ex­plains Mar­i­anne. ‘They can sug­gest warmth and hap­pi­ness and are stim­u­lat­ing, bring­ing to mind fire, sun­shine and chilli pep­pers. They’re per­fect for din­ing spa­ces or lounges where you want peo­ple to be chat­ting, en­joy­ing food, con­ver­sa­tion and cosy­ing up to each other, but not so good for stud­ies or kitchens where there may al­ready be too much stim­u­la­tion.

‘By con­trast the shorter vis­ual wave­length colours such as blue, green and vi­o­let are less stim­u­lat­ing and cre­ate a tran­quil en­vi­ron­ment re­mind­ing us of the sea and the sky and the great ex­panse of na­ture, pas­tures and liv­ing things. They’re the colours that make a room seem big­ger, and are great in spa­ces used for re­lax­ing and re­cu­per­at­ing from a busy day.’

A sim­ple way to cre­ate a more re­lax­ing at­mos­phere is to use tones of the same colour. Mar­i­anne says: ‘They’re easy to look at and you only have one colour to process.’ In­clud­ing paler colours in greater quan­ti­ties on floors and walls and then pick­ing out smaller features such as win­dow frames, doors and mould­ings in darker tones, works re­ally well.


Ac­cent colours help to cre­ate a greater level of en­ergy. Look­ing at a colour wheel, select a cooler neu­tral tone such as blue and grey to start, then choose a shot of a vi­brant colour such as or­ange from the op­po­site side of the wheel. This could be in a paint colour but could also be a vase, an art­work or even a flower, and it will lift the en­ergy of the whole space.’

A clas­sic com­bi­na­tion, en­er­gis­ing or­ange bal­ances the rest­ful tones of grey

…while a mix of del­i­cate pat­terns looks gor­geous in warm berry tones…

Pale dove works beau­ti­fully teamed with a block of coral…

…and pale pink is a fan­tas­tic way to high­light ar­chi­tec­tural features

…or use softer tones to­gether as a won­der­ful back­drop for dra­matic black fur­ni­ture…

Ramp up the con­trast for a vi­brant en­er­gis­ing scheme…

…and em­pha­sise green’s nat­u­ral beauty us­ing fern prints, fo­liage and mono­chrome ac­ces­sories

Blue shades are warm when com­bined with wood and nat­u­ral fin­ishes…

…or fresh and lively when used in eth­nic-style pat­terns on crisp white linens

Cobalt blue makes a stun­ning fo­cal point…

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