Bright and beautiful

A splash of paint here, a vibrant cushion there - it’s amazing how you can transform a room with some simple but lively touches.

PA Photo/Handout
PA Photo/Handout

“Colour is clever,” says designer, author and blogger Abigail Ahern. “Get it right and it lifts your spirits, get it wrong and it will make you run for the hills!

“It’s been my obsession for as far back as I can remember. I grew up in a colourful home. My mother, an artist, would choose shades for our walls in the same way that she would select colours for her paintings: instinctively, from feeling and observation.”

But it was when Ahern was living her now-husband, Graham Scott, in a rented property in America, that she really used colour to change a space - dabbling with patterns and textures to bring to life a home they weren’t allowed to paint.

For many of us though, it can sometimes feel like you need to be brave to embrace colour, and what if you feel differently about it in a few months’ time?

“The biggest tip I can give you when selecting a palette, is to nail the mood or atmosphere you want to create first. Do that, and figuring out what colour to go for gets so much easier,” advises Ahern.

Fancy a change? Feel inspired and follow these top tips and advice from the designer’s new book - Colour - for making specific spaces in your home bright and beautiful.

Hallways tend to be one of the most neglected spaces in our homes.

“When I come home at night after an exhausting day, I want to walk through the door and be enveloped by a feeling of squishy contentment,” says Ahern. “And the only way you achieve that is to create a strong first impression.”

Turn your entryway into a space filled with colour, lamps, books, flowers and nik-naks - all the stuff that will transport you to a magical, relaxed place.

Any sort of table, console (no matter how skinny) or storage unit works a treat for storing hats, gloves, bags, keys - all the messy stuff. Then you can go two ways: One; blend the furniture into the wall colour, or two; make it pop with something uber-punchy.

Pattern is important, too. The biggest trick here is to fool the eye away from the potential awkwardness of this space. A patterned rug skimming the floor, or a runner, up the stair treads, will give your hallway instant pizzazz (and not show the dirt).

If your hallway is small or oddly shaped, hanging artwork ‘salon style’ will elevate it to new heights.

Don’t neglect the finishing touches in hallways. Mirrors will reflect light, both natural and artificial, and instantly double the impression of your space. And you can soften the decor with the orange glow of a lamp or some seasonal blooms.

Ahern is only too aware that the modern living room is used to relax, work and contemplate in, and believes it’s important to create a multi-functional living space that feels vibrant but chilled.

A good trick here is to restrict the colour palette. Add a hue that gives your space a touch of unconventionality. Maybe you could paint a side table scarlet red, or treat an alcove in a vibrant blue. These intoxicating hues turn spaces around.

Not everything has to be colourful. Neutrals and chameleon browns will give your wow pieces breathing space.

Opt for rugs with a pattern, no matter how small the motif. It will make the space feel far more interesting.

Overdose on texture (it cosies the space up), so juxtapose rough with smooth, shiny with handwoven.

Add more than one focal point, so the eye is excited and engaged wherever it looks.

“Bedrooms are not the easiest rooms to get right,” says Ahern. “I’ve struggled with mine, but now it’s my sanctuary.”

For a calm, serene bedroom, use a colour palette that acts as a backdrop, rather than a focal point. You can find the most calming combos with dark inky hues, and even colour-studded palettes can soothe.

A good place to start your colour scheme is the bed, because it takes up the largest amount of space. I’ve gone for dark linen, embellished with throws, or try elevating white linen by piling on pillows and mixing patterns.

Make your own headboard from MDF and cover it in a luxe velvet.

Rugs anchor rooms, set the tone and add instant glamour, plus - toes touching a beautiful, fluffy rug in the morning is a good thing. Pattern will add instant pizzazz here. If you do have plain carpets, just skim the odd rug over them - the Americans do it all the time and it looks amazing.

When selecting decorative lighting, choose a tantalising base (mine are either bronze or flocked) - you need some small, luxurious details that add instant magic to a bedroom.