Beautiful rooms made simple: Design solutions and top tips

  • Image: Manuel Canovas
  • Image: Colefax and Fowler
  • A symphony of statement pieces here creates a feast for the eye, with unexpected seat colours, an unusual light fitting and a boldly patterned screen (Image: Manuel Canovas)
  • Patterns and plains combined for a welcoming and sophisticated look (Image: Colefax and Fowler)

Renowned interior designer, Amanda Hanley, answers questions on how to transform your home, and shares the latest design ideas for smart updates.

How can I easily inject colour into my home this summer?

Colour is clever, and getting it right can really lift your spirits and make you feel happier. The ability of colour to transform your surroundings; to excite, tantalise and calm, is second to none, and is easily achievable with a small amount of confidence.

Colour palettes can range from hushed tones - muted and complex - to intensely saturated spaces, crammed with technicolour. Choose your colours with feeling; if you are happier surrounded by the colours of nature, then follow that instinct. If taking risks and making a statement is more your thing, then opt for a bolder scheme. Whatever you are drawn to, one of the easiest style updates you can make is with fabric and accessories.

Try brightening up a cool room with a touch of contrasting colour, such as pinks or reds with blue – it will immediately lift the space. This can be as simple as adding some cushions, or if you have a bigger budget, consider your curtains, blinds and upholstery too. Alternatively, add depth to your scheme with tonal colours – adding lighter and darker versions of the same colour.

How should I add interest to my neutral room without using bright colour?

The key to a neutral scheme is texture, and lots of it, to build up contrast. You can add texture in so many ways, incorporating a mixture of smooth and rough, fluffy and sleek, hard and soft.

Mix up your soft furnishings; for example, if you have a woollen cushion on your sofa, you don’t need to choose wool again for additional cushions – try introducing a completely new texture, like velvet, silk, linen, or even leather. It’s the interplay of different materials that brings a space alive. Texture can also be added to walls, by using a subtly patterned wallpaper – there is now a huge range available, mimicking the feel of natural materials. And, finally, a big rug is always a winner!

I’m happy with my colour scheme, but my room still lacks ‘wow’ factor. Do you have any suggestions?

The best trick in the book is to add statement pieces, to make your room feel creative and sophisticated. They can help define a space or highlight an architectural feature with a splash of colour, pattern or an unexpected texture.

The idea is to move away from the predictable and conventional, and indulge in what makes you smile. Multiple statement pieces take a room to a whole new level. Aim for at least two or three to tantalise the eye and layer up complexity. Listen to your gut; if your instinct tells you that it’s too much, try going back to a blank canvas, then reintroduce pieces until it feels right. 

Can you give me any advice on using patterns and how to combine them?

Pattern is a fundamental part of design and can include anything from stripes, flowers, checks, graphics or geometrics, which can look extremely striking when combined in the right way. To keep your room cohesive, you need to be smart about building it up. The following tips should help:

  • Start with one design that you are drawn to, and that fits with your overall scheme
  • Aim to choose an odd number of patterns, such as three or five
  • Importantly, vary the scale of those patterns – at least one should be large, one small, and one in-between
  • Go for strong contrast in the pattern combinations i.e. mixing chevrons, florals and stripes
  • Your patterns should match in their colour intensity: bold with bold, pastel with pastel
  • Ideally at least one colour carries through your chosen patterns, although two or three are even better
  • When mixing pattern, the fabrics should be of a similar weight or feel
  • Think about where you’ll be using the design. Generally, the larger the surface, the larger the pattern that will complement it
  • Don’t forget to use solid colours along-side pattern – they provide relief and balance

Find out more about Amanda and her projects at www.amandahanley.co.uk