Green with envy

Photography: Studio Toogood

Colour Guide
Calm, restful

Colour Scheme
Subdued, eclectic, mature

Key Textures
Worn leather, wool, pale wood, velvet, glass, metal, matt paint finishes

Green. Not an easy colour to choose or use-light plays havoc with it. What you thought was a muted green in one light can be vastly different in another light. Unlike every other colour, the subtlies of green seem to be one which each person reads differently. Yes, you could say this about all colours but from my experience green is one colour I’m very cautious of. In photographic terms, green is a very tricky, on screen (digitally speaking) it reproduces completely different to the actual colour. What is a sage green in natural light will appear bright green on screen. Hence why you rarely see it used in homes.

We were at a friends house for dinner recently (pizza on the sofa with a very nice glass of wine) and her husband was telling a story of how the house around the corner inspired him to paint the exterior of their home in muted grey green. He went to the hardware store, choose the colour, bought enough paint for the whole exterior, he handed it to the painter and left for work, after all ‘It’s only choosing a colour’, ‘How hard can it be?’, ‘Can’t believe it can actually be a full time job!’ Yes, he was saying this and looking in my general direction but he was laughing. He may have been saying all of the above on his first visit to the hardware store but three visits later and still not able to crack the colour of ‘the house around the corner’ he realised that maybe there was something in what I do for a job! I went outside to inspect the colour and noticed that one major feature had been overlooked. Following the length of the house was a 2m high wall…which was painted in British racing green that, with the light bouncing of it, was casting a hue onto their house! Throw in that the house was facing east and shaded by trees, I’m not surprised he had three attempts.

Not an unusual story I’m sure, so the best piece of advice I can give would be buy sample pots and test! Spot test a section of wall that receives full sun, part sun and no sun then sit and watch it for a week, or two even. On different days, with different weather, note how the colour changes morning, noon and night with natural and artificial light. It’s not difficult choosing colour, you just have to understand how it can be affected. The more tests, and rooms, you paint the better your knowledge will become.

This grey green interior is subtle and gentle and cleverly mixes four varying tints and shades of green. Not an easy thing to achieve. What helps them blend is the tone of the neutral leather chairs. It’s a complex, mature and unpredictable palette that sits outside the box.

35% of the room is a shade of grey green with the cornice and skirting also painted the same colour. The shutters and architraves have also been painted in the same colour but in a satin/low sheen finish-more on this in the tip below. The point I want to make here is that some colours do not need-I would go as far as to say should not have-a different colour on skirtings boards. This isn’t so much to do with the colour but more to do with keeping within a style genre. Colours fall into style groups–aka Karen Walker for Resene, Kevin McCloud for Fired Earth etc. Let me put it to you in terms of fashion – A person who wears Armani won’t then have their face made up like Zandra Rhodes. In interiors there is a section of the colour palette that needs to be presented in a particular way, without adornment if you like, to ensure it keeps within its genre, or style. Should you go outside of its parameters the colour won’t translate correctly. Apart this grey green in this image, another colour for example would be mustard-like the image from last weeks post, you wouldn’t paint the skirting in that context either. I’m referring predominantly to the muddy, murky and muted hues (three M’s, that was an accident!).

The ceiling at 20% has a touch of black stopping the glare of the sun streaming through the windows from bouncing around the room.

An oak parquet floor adds warmth in colour and texture. The herringbone pattern adds the layer of history and is in keeping with the architecture of the building. The brown tone amounts to 14%.

Black is dotted all around the room. The gorgeous pair of wall mounted lights – great idea for freeing up the surface of the side tables – and the spider like ceiling light adds interest during the day and night when it pushes the light in all directions. Black also appears in the rug and the artwork. Black changes its appearance slightly with each item – rug and artwork are adsorbing light whilst the light fittings have a soft sheen finish allowing the light to pop off them. Black totals 7%.

Also at 7% is the mid grey of the sofa and knitted ottoman. This neutral colour allows the cushions and wall colour to dominate. The circular shape of the ottoman helps the room feel relaxed along with adding texture.

The aged red leather chair adds 4% in colour (and 15% in character).

My quest for the perfect armchair is equalled by my quest for a coloured side table. Which is on par with my mission to get people to mix and match armchairs. At 3% each is the tan shown in the pair of leather chairs and the muted green of the armless chair. Like the colour scheme, placing the conservative chairs around such a modern table is pushing the design outside the box.

The green in the rug is slightly brighter and yellowier than the wall and accounts for a further 2%.

At 2% is pale grey, seen in the artwork and rug.

The rich green velvet and mustard coloured cushions along with the throw, total 2% and balance the rich leather chair adjacent. These two colours also give the scheme depth.

The bone coloured shell on the wall is similar in tone to the table support and counts for 1%. The round shape of both items loosen up the room.

The vase and moss cushion add two further variations of green to the colour palette – one is pale green and the other more of a sage tone. They are small additions in the overall colour palette, as are the yellow flowers, but all together they are adding further shades and tints to two hues that are neighbours on the colour wheel.


TIP: By switching between paint finishes i.e. matt/ flat to satin/low sheen etc, you create depth to the walls without highlighting or interrupting the visual flow of the room.

TIP: By placing something weather and pre-loved in a room it will make it feel homey.


*The colour on screen is not a true representation of actual colour.