How I became confident with colour in 5 simple steps

My journey on how I went from being a colour commitment-phobe to truly embracing new hues

Confidence with colour
(Image credit: Future)

As far as passions go, enhancing a home's look and perhaps more importantly feel, is a fun and noble pastime. 

We all, in a way, strive to create mindful home surroundings and want to live with a sense of well-being. But what if we can’t quite reach beyond a comfort zone of colours and shades that are just a little, done? 

Being stuck in a colour rut is a real thing and if like me, you've decorated with the same tones for years, you'll know how hard it is to try something new.

But with so many home decor trends around, there comes a time when your colour scheme has to move on, right? 

But how do we unleash our personal colour potential and create our own happy place? It's not plain sailing, but it can be done.

For me, I’d lived among a plethora of relaxing neutral cream tones for years but when the trend for grey became colour du jour, I was willing to travel over to the darker side.

To say my partner and I embraced grey would be an understatement. We had just moved in together when this look was gaining momentum and together we picked slate grey floor slabs, put grey micro-cement in the kitchen, the hall and landing walls were painted Farrow & Ball classic Cornforth White (opens in new tab) and the w/c was Downpipe (opens in new tab)  – a much darker shade. 

With bedrooms in softer Ammonite (opens in new tab), I’m sure you can now guess our bathroom tile and carpet colour choices too...

Our home's landline (yes we have a landline) is even labelled ‘castle grayskull’ in my phone contacts, even though there's no He-man or Skeletor living here.

After some time, being surrounded by a sea of grey started to feel a touch chilly, so I decided to take matters – and a colour paint chart – into my own hands to embark on a journey of colour empowerment. This sounds like an overstatement, but I am (clearly) no maximalist and it was a big deal!

Then, I began noticing warmer colours breaking through into interior schemes. These refreshing hues were strong, earthy, mineral tones. Hints of deep pinks, terracotta, the colour of terra ferma was seeping into the interiors world – and into my greige-filled mind. It felt like the beginning of something so I tapped into my inspiration and this is how I finally found my confidence with colour.

1. Zero-commitment colour testing

I decided to dip my toe into the trend and with some tester pots and large white card, I made my own colour samples. I loved this type of no commitment testing as these could be moved around the room easily to see the shade in action, as it were.

2. Know the purpose of your space

The area I’d picked to upgrade was my hallway and stairs, perhaps because as a thoroughfare I felt I could go bolder with my choice but I also wanted my home to feel more welcoming and it seems that just having that end goal in mind may actually have helped me push my colour boundaries.

Tash Bradley, Director of Interior Design and Colour Psychologist for home décor brand Lick (opens in new tab) says 'Knowing the purpose of the room will give you confidence, for example if you’d like somewhere to relax in the evening then this will guide you to cosy, dark, rich tones. On the flip-side, if you want the room to help make you feel energised and fresh then choose a colour which is bright and airy.'

3. Have visual inspiration to hand

If I had to sum up my style I’d say modern, rustic contemporary, meets timeless. Think, French Connection Home (opens in new tab) meets Habitat (opens in new tab). So I'd often look at the latest products and any lookbooks to help keep the inspiration flowing. 

That way not only did I have the feel of the space that I wanted to create in mind, but I also kept my favourite visual inspiration to hand also.

4. Take the colour plunge

Soon after that, I moved on from the swatches and began to liberally paint testers directly onto the walls, there was no turning back. It was kind of like taking that first plunge in a cold sea, it felt brave but invigorating and worth it.

5. Go for impact

For weeks my walls were a mosaic of mineral tones until I finally had myself a winner. Farrow & Ball Dead Salmon (opens in new tab), ‘An aged salmon pink’ was a far cry from all the creams and greys I was used to and it was going to make a big impact, not only on the interior but also on my partner in grey crime – who was less than keen. 

Thankfully, I managed to convince him. Or rather, I simply went and bought the paint, and the transformation began. The results were really impressive. It was warm, strong and yet calming, and to give him his due, he soon loved it too and we’ve since taken this colour up into our new loft conversion.

Perhaps my gaining confidence was also helped by a colour psychology course I took by Sophie Robinson where I learned about colour ‘seasons’ and how we each have our own perfect palette (I’m summer season by the way). 

Using this and following the success of the hallway, I felt as if I’d found my true colour core as it were and we’ve since decorated the kids' rooms teal and dusty green. There’s new warming wood bathroom flooring, mint green bedside tables and pale pink bathroom furniture also.

For my next stop, it’s a kitchen makeover where I’m eyeing the ‘Salted Caramel’ trend. Finally, I’ve found my confidence with colour and am loving the richness it brings into my home. I'm sure you will too.

Anna has over a decade of experience styling and art directing photo shoots of readers homes and of beautiful homeware products. She discovered her passion for interiors after living and working in L.A. and upon her return to the UK, started a career in magazines and photography. She now lives in the Leicestershire countryside with her young family.

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