How to create bold home decor using rich colours and patterns

Find the courage to be colourful this season with these gorgeous interior design tips from Emily Henson, author of Be Bold: Interiors for the Brave of Heart.

Yellow sofa with bird-patterned wallpaper from Be Bold: Interiors for the Brave of Heart by Emily Henson

When she started writing Be Bold: Interiors for the Brave of Heart, Emily Henson was not feeling particularly courageous. She says: “My personal life was in turmoil and my home had become pared back and simplified as a way of dealing with a life in pieces.

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“Very little colour, no pattern, no clutter – it was so unlike me!”

Although it was what Emily felt she needed in her life at that point in time, eventually she began to be drawn back towards bold designs.

“I started to seek inspiration from homes with joyful patterns, gutsy colour choices and exhilarating paint treatments,” she explains. “I wanted to be bold, so I sought out bold people.

Read on to discover Emily’s tips to help you make your home a bolder, more colourful space.

Blue dining room

1

Paint it bold

One of the quickest and easiest ways to go bold is to pick up a paintbrush. If you’re nervous about taking the plunge, Emily recommends testing the water by spray-painting something small, such as an old lamp base or a wooden stool.

While you can choose one bold shade and paint everything one colour, Emily says that some people can find this “intoxicating”.

“Notice colours that work together in fashion, nature and art and try them at home,” says Emily. “Navy and orange, chartreuse and bubblegum pink and fuchsia and olive are examples of unexpected but exciting combinations.”

2

Refresh your textiles

Emily likes to use textiles as a quick and inexpensive way to add some juicy colour.

Try combining a sofa in earthy tones with with brightly hued velvet cushions – and throw in a variety of textures to add interest.

Dining from from Be Bold by Emily Henson

3

Have a pattern riot

“While pattern isn’t an essential part of a bold interior, it is a powerful way to turn up the volume in a room and express your personality,” Emily says.

When picking patterns that will work together, look for ones that have three or four shades in common and throw some solid blocks of colour for respite.

Christine Liu

4

Go for block colours

Sometimes, painting sections of a wall rather than a whole wall can be striking. “Try painting part-way up the walls and leaving the top half white,” says Emily.

Alternatively, you can get creative using masking tape and create your own graphic design.

If you have floorboards, consider painting those too. Emily advises painting just one area of the floor: “A graphic design can delineate an area, rather like a rug.”

Yellow comfy chair from Be Bold by Emily Henson

5

More is more

Most of us opt for neutral colours for key items of furniture, but in doing so we’re passing up the chance to be daring.

Emily says: “Over the years I’ve met people who have invested in furniture in daring and unusual shades and none of them – I promise – have ever expressed regret.”

But bold does have to mean bright. “You could choose pale pink, sage green, aquamarine – anything but the obvious.”

If the thought of a brightly coloured sofa makes you feel uneasy, pick one stand-out piece of furniture that your guests will be drawn to – like a vibrant upholstered chair.

Be Bold by Emily Henson
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Extract taken from Be Bold: Interiors for the Brave of Heart by Emily Henson, published by Ryland Peters & Small, priced £19.99. Photography by Catherine Gratwicke. Order your copy online.