Live colourfully

Used as both a home office and space for relaxing, Anya Brighouse has gone to town with vivid hues and bold patterns to create this delightful den.

What does this room mainly get used for? This is my absolute favourite room in the house. I currently work from this space, as well as it being my preferred place to watch TV or read in the evenings. My children joke that there is a dent in our sofa where I religiously sit. I decided if I was going to spend so much time in one space then I would put all my favourite things in it. So when we packed up the old house I put stickers on all the things I wanted for in here. A few extra pieces have arrived in the four years since we moved here though – the orchid pink Tolix locker that holds all my work, the beautiful Kartell POP chair with its Missoni fabric covers and the outrageous IKEA sofa.

That couch is amazing! Did you know it was going to work in the space before you purchased it? No, I didn’t. I was very hopeful it would, but I did have a bit of a crisis of confidence and thought maybe I was taking it all too far. I had decided to move it into another room when a friend told me to stop panicking and trust myself as I am usually right. She told me to try it – what would it hurt? Then I didn’t think it needed cushions but somehow some got on there, and then finally after thinking it just needed a quiet painted wall above it I realised I had too much many great things in storage and that they needed to go on the wall. I was inspired by Alex Fulton – she’s a colour maximalist just like me!

Did you have a colour scheme in mind when you started the makeover? I was 100% committed to using this amazing cerulean blue from Porter’s Paints called Avalon. I have loved it for years and just knew I wanted to use it. The house actually has about seven colours used throughout in various levels of intensity. I didn’t want to make any concessions in this room – I just wanted to include everything! I used a lot of hot pink and orange – two colours that go beautifully with the blue. Shots of yellow, orange and even apple green work with it.  The black and white I used to ground it all – the all-white floor certainly helps do that.

It looks as though this is the kind of space that changes a lot – how do you make the colour scheme work when you’re adding and subtracting pieces? It is in high winter mode at the moment. Lots of rugs and cushions and there is usually a basket of blankets in the corner and large floor cushions so everyone can lie on the floor.  Most of that disappears in the summer and if I change the artwork, it tends toward more white with more flowers. I remove a bit of the black as well.

What’s your secret tip for making pattern-on-pattern work? My secret is that you just have to keep trying things. I am drawn to colours in a certain bold palette – and I know they all work together. When you’re combining colour on colour, use tones of a similar intensity to make the look cohesive. With the patterns I have used there is a lot of black which helps link it all together.

How do you arrange your artwork so artfully? I love the process of laying it all out on the floor to get the shapes fitting well together. I get it how I want it and then take a photograph to help me remember. Then I generally start in the top left-hand corner and work my way down and outward with the frames.

What was your best buy for the space? My favourite thing would be the Tolix locker in that amazing orchid pink. I have loved those lockers for years and saved for a long time for it. I use it every day. It has emerald green shelves inside which make me smile every time I open it.

If I wanted to jump on the bright-and-bold bandwagon at my place how would you recommend starting?  Start with the thing that you can’t change. If you already have a brightly coloured piece of furniture that you love – begin with that, or a large piece of adored art. I always keep the ceiling, joinery and floor colour the same where
I can, and I prefer neutral curtains. This means I can put all the colour I want onto the walls and furniture. It generally isn’t a thing that happens quickly, it is better to let it all grow slowly. If you are lacking in confidence, a lot of companies will let you take things home and try them in place to see if your instincts are right. Just loving something isn’t enough – but that certainly helps. Think about what other things you could bring in from other spaces in your home and experiment with flowers and brightly coloured vases as this is always a cost-efficient and non-permanent way of playing with colour. And just keep adding until you are completely satisfied, then do what I do, and start all over again by moving furniture when you get bored of it.

Photography Mel Jenkins

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