- Credit: PA Photo/Ryland Peters and Small
Let Mother Earth be your guide with our top three tips for nature-inspired interior decor
Sometimes nature knows best, but who’d have thought it also holds the answers to home decorating? Looking to the skies and the changing colours of the landscape is the newest (and highly welcome) alternative to struggling with perplexing paint charts, and it’s the method used by one of the world’s leading stylists.
Hans Blomquist, renowned for his work as an art director with major home brands, including Ikea, Harrods, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Zara Home, reveals that looking up to the skies - whether sunny blue, stormy or rain-lashed horizons - as well as noticing the seasons, is his perfect inspiration for winning interiors.
“It’s easy to take colour for granted. We forget to appreciate the amazing, dazzling world that surrounds us, full of a million different shades that have the power to lift our spirits or soothe our mood,” says Blomquist, whose beautifully illustrated book, In The Mood For Colour: Perfect Palettes For Creative Interiors, is a guide to seeing colour in a completely different light.
“Nature is my starting point for any project. For my job, I’m lucky enough to travel the world and colour surprises me wherever I go - I’m often transfixed by the different colours and lights I’ve experienced in different parts of the globe. Most of my inspiration comes from the colours of the natural world. There is beauty to be found nearly everywhere you go and nature always inspires me with its wonderful colour combinations.”
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The perfect palette is out there just waiting to be seen, he says, and the easiest way of finding out what appeals is to take photos on your phone, of whatever catches your eye, over a period of time.
“N ext time you leave your house, whether you’re passing through familiar landscapes or visiting a different country, look around and marvel at the variety of colours that surround you. You’ll end up with a collection of pictures which display a wide range of different colours and textures that will be a rich source of inspiration and help you refine your taste.”
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Blue skies and blue jeans
Blue’s a colour that works especially well when you layer up different shades to create a tone-on-tone effect, and Blomquist promises it will result in a harmonious interior with a sense of depth and calm.
“I consider myself a ‘blue’ person. Painting walls a deep blue will give you a sense of summer all year round, and you can add warmth with natural objects and colours,” he enthuses.
“Denim blue, greyish blue, duck-egg blue, shades of blue that veer towards green, and anything in between are all favourites of mine.
“There’s nothing more comfortable to wear than denim, and it’s just as comfortable to live in a moody blue interior. Shades of denim can range from the deepest indigo to the palest, soft grey-blue.”
Anything goes with deep moody blues - light or dark, muted tones or bright clear, spring-like shades. In an interior, dark blue works as a neutral and looks brilliant either covering walls or used as a grounding accent in the form of textiles and decorative objects. Try layering different shades of blue from darkest navy to washed-out cornflower.
Washed, bleached and weathered
Natural colour schemes have a depth and softness to them, says Blomquist, and feel so unmanufactured and true in their shades that they’ll always bring a sense of integrity to your home and make it feel warm, inviting and relaxed.
“I’m always collecting pieces of wood from the beach and the forest. I use some to light the fire, but the sculptural pieces usually end up on display and inspire me in my choice of colours,” he explains.
“There’s nothing like the faded colours of smooth driftwood, washed vintage French linen, or antique grey painted furniture. I love everything about these soft, warm tones.
“I like to mix vintage and new, textural wood playing off shiny porcelain, and if you feel the whole is too bland, introduce some greenery - a single leaf or a pot plant can be the last extra touch needed.”
If you have plain white walls, add layers of texture and introduce different shades of soft white to make a room more inviting. Layer textiles in different weaves or colours, hang a panel of vintage fabric as a work of art. A collection of vintage mirrors will reflect and accentuate any light in the room and is particularly effective in making a small space appear larger.
Towards the end of summer vivid hues begin to fade and moodier colours appear along with dark stormy days and autumnal earthy colours; this is a palette Blomquist recommends for atmospheric rooms.
“Even though I don’t like rainy days, I love it when dark, thundery rain clouds roll in because their deep tones are astoundingly beautiful, and every other hue sits so well against them, especially the bright green of spring leaves,” he says.
“While you may be reluctant to repaint a room pitch black, I’m sure you would be pleasantly surprised if you did, as it’s such a chic, comfortable colour to live with. I wish I had more dark colours in my home.
“A dark backdrop can have such an impact and create a sense of drama, yet at the same time give a very calm and cocooning feeling. It also makes any other colour stand out beautifully, whether it’s a single flower, a branch of spring blossoms, or a piece of furniture.”
If painting a whole room seems too much, start with one wall or ceiling. Create a tonal wall by painting one solid colour of matt paint in a dark colour and then, using a sponge, apply a wash of diluted lighter paint over it. Repeat until you get the desired effect. Choose from deepest indigo, inky black, thunder grey and earthy brown shades. Down Pipe, Railings and Pitch Black, Farrow & Ball (£43.50 for 2.5L; www.farrow-ball.com) are all worth a try.