Madame Butterfly (well birds really)


Colour Guide

Colour Scheme
Delicate, oriental, textural, ethereal, refined

Key Textures
Lacquer, glass, silk, cotton, heavy cotton, grass cloth wallpaper, ceramics


Sitting here in London, in September, sun shining outside- a perfect 24 degrees and children have just finished their first week back at school. Due to our work loads we weren’t able to go on holiday this summer and it’s because of that I find myself staring admiringly at this image. It carries me away to places beyond the Thames. Paris?  Florence maybe! The layering and combination of patterns, together with lacquered teal coloured objects, collectively give the impression of a certain period of opulence’s and luxury. I appreciate the style but it’s not something I would be able to get past my other half!

Notice how everything is symmetrical? Pairs of lamps, pairs of pillows, pair of stool all under a centrally place canopy frame. It’s no accident that the pile of magazines is off to one side. Yes, the orange bird attracts your eye but it’s the placement being off to one side that also draws you in. Your eye fixes on this and leads you into the room. To have two piles of magazines, one each stool, would visual divide the room – which way would you work? Left? Right? This trick leads you off to the right automatically and before you know it your admiring those beautiful lamps. The stack also adds drama to the interior.

I love how this interior mixes it up. Conservative yet graphic, with a touch of femininity thrown in. By doing this you’re unable to define or categorise the room to a specific genre. Is it a room your grandmother would love? Must likely they’d have an issue with the rug and teal colour. The design on the rug and the use of teal is contemporary and dramatic which appeals to a completely different end of the market both in style and age.

Look through the teal and past the white bedding and you’ll notice taupe is the basis and foundation of which all other colours rest upon. It’s the background on the wall, and assuming the decorative paper covers the walls out of view, it consumes 38% of the space. Yep, part assumption; part instinct, the walls are all covered in birds and branches.  In this context to paint the fourth wall you would loose the concept of the overall design.

Next in percentage are three colours that play very different roles: forest green, white and, what I would describe as, milk chocolate (my guilty pleasure!). Starting with forest green, it appears as leaves on the wall, the silk curtains and mattress base. To keep things interesting the material has changed each time; paper, silk and cotton which in turn uses the light differently by adsorbing and reflecting it. The crisp white of bedding and ceiling defines the patterns that surround it. The large spance of white bedding bounces sunlight around the room. At lastly, the fine lines of chocolate bed frame and branches on the wallpaper. Now, we can’t see the flooring but by the process of elimination, and the use of creative licence, I would say the floor is wood and the same colour as the bed frame. Each of the three colours equal 14% each.

Ah, now, for the colour of the moment, that wonderful Teal colour! Rarely do other colours pack as much punch, whether they are matt or gloss. When it shines, reflects and shimmers it’s like a jewel, a semi- precious stone, in an interior. The lacquered finish adds a depth and edge to the classical wall treatment. If you look closely you’ll notice a couple of blue birds in the scenery. Teal is visually only 8% but it feels like a lot more.

All interiors need a touch of black to ground them. Being a non-colour, it doesn’t compete and gives clarity to surrounding colours.  Obviously, you can see it in the zigzag patterned dhurrie but it also appears in the wallpaper. I want to flag the use of the dhurrie as opposed to a pile carpet. The use of the flat weave style rug pushes the differences and contradictions of style between it and the classic delicate wallpaper. To use a pile carpet would be close to the wallpaper stylistically and what one would expect to see. Therefore, the room would be pushed toward the traditional end of the scale which is exactly where you would find this wallpaper. That isn’t what this interior was aiming to achieve. It wants to be dynamic and interesting.

The 5% sand hue shown in the rug contains more pink than the wallpaper background, and I suspect in real life this there is even more definition.

Next lies the subtleties that add depth to the colour palette. These little dabs of colour either jump out or blend in. Each of the following only equal 1% but in terms of adding interest, add much more.

Starting with the pale grey trim on the bed linen, this subtle detail defines the shape of the bed and pillows but also reduces the large expanse of white. The pale sage ruffle trim on the curtain achieves three results; it softens the horizontal line of the curtain, it adds texture to the room and lastly, elegance. All that from a simple frill!

Close to the sage hue is the ever so subtle and delicate hue that is pale green shown in the wall covering. You really have to look for it as it blends into the overall effect of the image.

The final two colours, orange and yellow, work in opposite directions but achieve the same affect. Both are used in the wall covering but only the rich orange hue has been brought forward. Placed at the foot of the bed you find your eye drawn to it and as you look further into the room you notice it more. Cover the orange bird and book see if your eye is attracted by it as much.


TIP: Approach our local car repair business to see if they will paint items. It’s a great way to introduce the latest trends.

TIP: To stop everything feeling controlled and symmetrical consider placing a random object off to one side. This will help you ‘visually walk’ into a room.

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


One Comment

  1. I love the contrast of pop with antique illustrative wallpaper provided by the magistretti style plastic tables. That blue is a great colour coupled with burnt orange. I’m not digging the bed though, looks a bit twirly forged-iron candlestick circa 1998 – it also renders the space a bit crammed.

    I’d never get that wallpaper past my other half either. “I hate wallpaper’ she declared when we set up our first home. I told her that was like saying, I hate the ground, or I hate flat surfaces… or moving my arms.