Remain in Light

Photography: William Waldron

Colour Guide

Colour Scheme
Elegant, Sophisticated, angelic, chic, genteel, urbane

Key Textures
Mirror, sheepskin, leather, wool, chrome, glass, ceramic, stained wood, matt paint finish


Call me crazy but two things come to mind when I look at this image, Kate Bush, flapping her arms around in Wuthering Heights and a spring Chanel Haute Couture collection. Floaty…ethereal…surely a Maltese terrier puppy has just run out of shot.

The colours in this scheme are icy and luminous, not sure what I want to grab first, my down jacket or polarised sunglasses. Personally this style of room is not my thing but professionally I can appreciate its pristine beauty. It has the three E’s: exciting, eclectic, enticing. It’s balanced and for those ladies who attended my workshop last week, can you see the 6 elements I mentioned that ensures a harmonized scheme? Paper, fabric, metal, wood, glass and ceramics-it’s all happening here. Have a look at any table surface, shelving unit or room, and if it feels comfortable it will most likely contains a touch of each of these. These elements are more evident in a tonal scheme and I will be talking about in my Murobond workshop next month.

There are whites and there are whites. Friends recently choose to paint their new home “just plain white as white’s white right!” Well no, it’s not, as another friend pointed out when he visited ‘it’s a blue white’… there is no such colour as just plain white. There are paint decks produced with dozens of variations of what people broadly refer to as white. As I sit here surrounded by almost all of the different decks across three continents, I can tell you every companies ‘white’ is different. In relation to this image, the white is an blue based hue. (It’s not as blue as it may appear on screen as this is a home in the Northern Hemisphere, hence a softer blue light. Very different from Aussie light which is strong and contrasting). It’s natural light flowing through the window that casting a bluish hue overall.

I’m literally splitting hairs when it comes to deconstructing this scheme. The various incremental changes in colour from sofa to cushions to rug to vase and so on are very subtle and collectively create a classical and elegant room scheme.

This icy cool white on the console table, walls and ceiling consumes 35% of the room. A large portion of the walls have been mirrored which is bouncing the white and light all over the place, more than it normally would. Apart from doing what mirrors do – creating the illusion of larger space – they also double the amount of light in the room whether it’s natural or the 240V variety.

At 21% are the ivory rug and sheepskin cushions on the sofa. This is a good example of how the same colour can take on different appearances when you change the material. They both absorb light and to enhance this feature they have been placed on or near a material that does the opposite – rug to chrome table, cushion to leather sofa – in juxtaposition, to use the correct term.

Black, totalling 15%, and dominates by the pure nature of its strength and when you look at the colour wheel breakdown on the left it does just that. In this instance the black grounds the room, it’s a base if you like. The chair legs are black as are the side and pedestal tables. Interestingly, in such a delicate interior, I would not have chosen such a chunky table but it sits well with the square frame of the coffee table and chairs. To balance the black across the room, there is the pedestal table  along with a hint black that pops up on the shelves in the objects and picture frame. Note only small portions of black appear on the shelves as anything thick and chunky would visually be top heavy

The pair of eggshell coloured leather chairs add a further 10%. The soft sheen from the leather is yet another texture with their arms emulating the graphic lines of the chrome table and ceiling plaster work.

Also at 10% is the antique white leather sofa. As you see so far, they are slight changes in colour. I’m digging for as many words as I can to describe what some people would say is white or off-white or ivory or linen or …..all names which are meant to evoke emotions and appeal to you physiological level. Every heard of ‘Mission Brown’? It’s was re-incarnated as ‘Chocolate’, sounds more appealing doesn’t it? I digress, the scale of the sofa is like the granddaddy of the room, it holds the odd family of furniture together.

The only leap, if you can call it that, away from the white-ish palette is the silvery grey cushion on the sofa. It, like most of the other furnishings, is playing with texture. Made from a silk I would assume, it slightly absorbs the light – opposite to what the sofa is doing, reflecting – and adds a rough texture into the mix of material which surrounds it. Apart from the sofa it also appears on the Swan chair that serves two purposes. Firstly, it’s an organic shape that loosens up the overall feeling and it’s also a nod to classic modern design. The pale grey sheepskin upholstery is tactile and again is the opposite to the reflective cold coffee table.

The back for the Swan chair is covered in a darker grey. It’s a mid tone between the front of the chair and the black floor equalling 1%. It also stops the chair from optically floating on the rug.

The following all add a further 1% each to the scheme. A small percentage but none the less important in making the space feel dynamic. The gilt frame is a dull gold in tone stopping it from screaming out from the other colours. The sand coloured cushion is along the same palette as the gilt frame and spreads the colour around the room. Again, like everything else in this interior, it adds texture. The chrome under frame twinkles and when it’s surrounded by a rug that swallows up light, it’s just what’s needed on ground level. The last colour to mention is the yellow cream of the ceramic vase.

There are two other points I would like to make. Mirror obviously is not a colour but it clearly takes on the colours around it. In this case the cool white of the ceiling and walls, effectively acting as a white wall.

Apart from the green foliage adding life to the interior it’s also a contrasting hue, showing that an accent colour can also come from a seasonal item. You could replace this with a soft pink or pale yellow and still achieve the same affect.


TIP: Avoid using bright gold or brass in cool interiors as they can look garish and cheapen the colour palette.

TIP: Circles and curves are more inviting and welcoming than straight lines (i.e. ever noticed Help or Information desks are curved? There is a reason).


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


One Comment

  1. Holly wrote:

    …and another brilliant breakdown. I’m loving these posts!