Tim Gosling on the myriad ways colour can impact your interiors


“Mere colour can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways” – Oscar Wilde

By Tim Gosling

It is impossible to talk about interiors and interior design without talking about colour. Oscar Wilde is right; it is intriguing how powerful colour can be. It is always amazing to walk into a room, which turns the clock back 200 years, to reveal a colour you have never seen before. Like the South Drawing Room in the Sir John Soane’s Museum in London, which is painted in a strong Soane yellow with matching taffeta curtains, very fashionable at the time and still something you might see today in a more contemporary interior.

In a world with so much choice, it can be difficult to decide what colour to choose, and what we think we want to live with. I change the colour of my walls every year for two reasons – it alters the mood and it helps me to rehang the paintings. Art with a different backdrop and a new position looks totally different. It is helpful to remember that paint colour need not be permanent; it is easy to change, so don’t be scared to paint a room a strong Imperial Purple.

Be bold and try something new. Sometimes painting a darker colour increases the feeling of volume, whilst also heightening the architecture. It is worth looking at how much wall space there actually is – note the space taken up by bookcases, a fireplace or bay window.

The most expensive part of choosing a wall colour is having to replace the curtains. Try to choose fabrics which will go with many of the shades you like. With each new wall colour, I order four cushions, using remnants or old saris, selecting colours which bring the new walls and curtains together

I am currently restoring a Chateau in Normandy. A wonderful, sometimes overwhelmingly huge project, which has gifted me the opportunity to collaborate with the eco paint company, Graphenstone, to produce the Restoration Chateau Paint Collection. The 12-colour collection ranges from the muted, pastel Celestial Blush Unseen, to the strong, vibrant La Commanderie Red. Creating this colour range with Graphenstone has been a delightful journey, and the opportunity to produce a paint collection using environmentally-friendly, certified and healthy natural products is a dream come true.

The most complicated colour to work with was definitely the green. Green reflects the historic period you are living in, with subtle changes characterising different eras. Regency arsenic green is so recognisable, as is the Trellis Green, which was used by the Royal Court for all exterior architectural paint work. One of my favourite colours is Madame Pompadour’s Taffeta. It is so specific to the period and can be seen in the wonderful paintings of her by Francois Boucher. She looks utterly resplendent reclined on chaise longue with a full taffeta gown in an unmistakeable green hue.

Using colour in our interiors and lives is a wonderful privilege; the lapis blues, for example, no longer reserved just for the hands of great artists or kings – colour is now accessible to everyone, so please use it!


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