IN PICS | Fortune favours the bold decorator: Nine colourful living rooms

05 September 2021 - 00:02 By Robyn Alexander/Bureaux
A large painting by Henry Symonds creates a focal point above the sofa in this boldly beautiful living room.
A large painting by Henry Symonds creates a focal point above the sofa in this boldly beautiful living room.
Image: Bureaux

We’re moving on from monochrome as the energy, interest and vitality added to living rooms by the brave use of colour emerges as one of the latest design trends.

Here are nine beautiful spaces that'll inspire you to be bold with the use of colour in your own home:

1. INTO THE PINK

A museum curator's jewel box of an apartment is a joyful explosion of contrasting colours that has been lifting its owner's mood for more than two decades.

In the living room, apple-green walls complement a bright pink ceiling, with a mustard-yellow velvet armchair setting off both shades to perfection.

Finding the exact colour tones that the homeowner wanted to use in the various spaces was a challenge, and he made use of a colour specialist to assist with the task of tracking down the perfect shades.

DESIGN DETAILS:  

  • Paint effects specialist Freya Lincoln assisted the homeowner in making the Right colour choices.
  • The large painting above the sofa is by Henry Symonds.
  • Seen just on the Right above the fireplace is a portrait of a lady by turn-of-the-century Scottish artist Cowan Dobson, in the manner of John Singer Sargent.
Vibrant colour has been teamed with black-and-white prints throughout this sophisticated home.
Vibrant colour has been teamed with black-and-white prints throughout this sophisticated home.
Image: Bureaux

2. BLUE NOTE

“I love colour,” says the owner of this large family home, in which each room sports a different but equally strong hue.

“It's about mixing and layering and not making it obvious and predictable,” she adds.

The confident combination of bold colours with black-and-white and animal print makes for a lively and sophisticated feel throughout, as demonstrated in this supremely smart living room.

DESIGN DETAILS: 

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Colours popular in the 1960s were the inspiration for this living room's design.
Colours popular in the 1960s were the inspiration for this living room's design.
Image: Bureaux

3. MODERN HUES

When decorating her mid-century modern home, a young fashion designer decided she wanted to use colours that were popular at the time her house was built in the 1960s.

“I researched what colours were popular [then] and chose the ones that I liked,” she says - shades that included the saturated pastels seen here in her living room, which she then combined with fearless verve to create a look that is both retro and fresh.

DESIGN DETAILS: 

  • Dyed sheepskins soften the screed floor.
  • The modular sofa unit can be reconfigured at will.
  • The coffee table is vintage Kartell and the ceramics are from ARTISAFIRE.
  • The art works on the pale turquoise wall include Smile I and Smile II by Georgina Gratrix, and More More More by Jody Paulsen.

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Pops of colour create multiple sparks of visual interest in this living room.
Pops of colour create multiple sparks of visual interest in this living room.
Image: Bureaux

4. POP STARS

It's a truism that those not confident enough to deploy swathes of colour should instead add “pops” of it, ideally against a monochrome backdrop, but doing so can also make a space slide into the realm of decorating cliché.

The chain-hotel-décor look has been resolutely avoided in this living room, however, where multiple colourful elements - including the golden-yellow display recess, turquoise-blue side table and colourful striped and patterned rugs - create multiple sparks of visual interest.

DESIGN DETAILS:

  • A good match for the bright yellow used here is Crazy Daisy by Plascon, but always test multiple shades in swatch form in situ to be sure of choosing the Right hue for your light conditions.
  • Repeating the yellow in pieces such as the glazed ceramic pot, and in the painting on the wall, also helps create a balanced, integrated look.
White walls allow the colourful furnishings to shine in this eclectic living room.
White walls allow the colourful furnishings to shine in this eclectic living room.
Image: Bureaux

5. WILD WILD LIFE

The lounge is the hub of this home, and is where its owners' confident take on colour is shown off at its best.

Complementary hues of green and red in the same space can be jarring to the eye if injudiciously combined, but in a space where antiques rub shoulders with contemporary furniture, and 20th-century design classics with art works made by family members, the mix of various shades of green with red works beautifully.

DESIGN DETAILS:

  • In this charmingly eclectic living room, furnishings include a Victorian sofa and armchairs from Tonic Design upholstered in green velvet.
  • The art work above the fireplace is by the homeowners' youngest daughter.
  • The wooden birds are a 1950s design by Danish designer Kristian Vedel.

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The half-painted, part-panelled walls in this living room are a contemporary take on a classic design idea, which adds to the timeless feel of this space.
The half-painted, part-panelled walls in this living room are a contemporary take on a classic design idea, which adds to the timeless feel of this space.
Image: Bureaux

6. TONE ON TONE

The palette of moody pinks and maroons used in this renovated cottage has a retro feel, but is timeless too.

The half-painted, part-panelled walls are an especially clever element, adding layered visual interest and a vintage atmosphere that doesn't seem contrived.

The use of lighter and darker versions of the same shade through walls and furnishings makes for a space that is colourful, yet elegantly restrained.

Click here to see more of this home.

DESIGN DETAILS:

  • Interior designer Charlotte Collins avoided using “rustic” details when renovating the cottage. Instead, the sophisticated use of colour is complemented by the understated, natural textures of a coir rug, and the wooden floor and furniture. (Click here to see Collins' charming Greyton cottage.)
  • The vintage polo mallets make a playful talking point.

7. ENVIABLY GREEN

The decision to paint all the walls and much of the ceiling of this heritage coastal holiday cottage in a single shade of green was one of the only changes made to the original home when its new owners took over.

The idea was suggested by a friend who stated that the green would make the original yellow beechwood floors “look considered”.

Not only did his prediction turn out to be accurate, the green also varies between hues of fern, olive and pistachio, depending on the light as the day goes by.

DESIGN DETAILS:

  • The paint is Cape Moss by Plascon, which pairs beautifully with the natural stone seen through the bay window.
  • Furnishings include a vintage Knoll chair and footrest, cork coffee table by Wiid Design and carpet from Mae Artisan Rugs.

8. JEWEL TONES

A contemporary jewellery designer's home is, like her wearable creations, bold and exuberant in its use of colour.

“I'm not afraid of mixing shades together,” she says, “but you have to be deliberate about it to pull it off.”

In the living room, she's done just that, combining pillar-box red, dark denim blue, fuchsia and yellow with real flair to create a mix that makes for a fun, energising and effortlessly multigenerational living room.

DESIGN DETAILS:

  • Keep connection and flow in mind when using lots of colour: here, ceiling-height glass and steel doors link several of the rooms.
  • The denim-blue couch is
    from Sofaworx, the pink rug from
    Monn and the yellow steel table by Xandre Kriel. Find a similar-patterned Basotho blanket at Aranda.
Decorator Sarah Ord is well known for her bold use of colours and patterns as can be seen in her own living room.
Decorator Sarah Ord is well known for her bold use of colours and patterns as can be seen in her own living room.
Image: Bureaux

9. EMERALD CITY

Well-known for her superbly gutsy approach to colour, the interior-designer owner of this suburban family home simply adores a bold hue.

“Once I start, I can't stop,” she smiles. “White just looks blah.”

A plethora of patterns and textures - from the cane armchair and velvet sofa to the Senegalese plastic mat used to cover the ottoman - both complement and set off the bold green and blue hues used in her living room.

DESIGN DETAILS:

  • The art work is by Mary Visser.
  • The Cape stinkwood armchair near the window was inherited by homeowner and decorator Sarah Ord from her grandmother.
  • A final touch of playfulness is added via the use of pink electric cables for the mirrored wall sconces. — Bureaux.co.za

• Photos by Greg Cox, Warren Heath and Elsa Young for Bureaux.


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