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Gently Bring In Spring

Gently Bring in Spring

By Guest Editor - Joanna Thornhill, Interiors Writer, Stylist, Speaker and Author. 

Our guest editor this month is Joanna Thornhill - an interiors stylist, writer and educator with a passion for using design as a tool to improve wellbeing.  To read more about Joanna , click here

Those first post-5pm sunsets and burgeoning Spring bulbs emerging from the soil at this time of year can bring about an almost primal urge to throw open the windows and frantically refresh the whole home, eager to shake off the shackles of bleak midwinter's grasp. Yet it's important to remember that this season can be somewhat fickle (especially in the UK), with sub-zero temperatures and even sprinklings of snow not entirely off the table just yet. With all of that in mind, here's some ideas to bring a sense of that new-season freshness into your home without committing to full-on redecoration.

Arguably the colour most synonymous with Springtime, yellow can be thought of as somewhat loud and proud - often seeming to 'shout' in an interiors scheme - which, as the brightest colour in the visible range the human eye can detect, makes sense. 

In colour psychology, yellow is known to have an elevated effect on our emotions, yet depending on its tone this can range between strong and stimulating, to calming and soothing. Its association with warmer weather and, in turn, positivity, makes it a powerful player and as such demands careful consideration when introducing it to the home.

The tone you choose - and what you pair it with - can have a huge impact here. Introducing a sharp, zesty lemon to a single wall, like the example above, can pack a real visual punch that's perfect for social spaces such as a kitchen or dining rooms. While fully colour-drenching in this shade would offer an almost immersive (and possibly overpowering) experience, keeping it confined to the window wall only, and adding a soft neutral with pinky-brown undertones on the adjacent wall, ensures the look is balanced out (both tonally and emotionally).

Alternatively, experiment with sparing-yet-equally-impactful yellow colour pops: interior designers often advise creating a scheme using a 60/30/10 ratio (dedicating around 60% of the space to your lead colour, 30% for your secondary tone, and 10% on a bold accent). This striking sunshine-yellow tone framing the window above takes up that accent role, bringing vibrant contrast to this predominantly green scheme. 

Paint-wise, it's the interiors equivalent of a shard of sunshine suddenly streaming magically through the trees in a wooden enclave, immediately breathing life into the space. The use of dark green here tempers the look, offering a somewhat moodier and punchier aesthetic compared to, say, a fresh apple green.

Window Surround : Imperial Yellow 314. Walls : Waterbury Green HC-136

To achieve a more earthy, grounding effect, opting for a deeper yellow with more brown undertones (which gives a more 'knocked back' appearance) can work especially well in period and heritage homes, offering a visually softer alternative to more punchy or acidic yellows. This mellowness can make it more appropriate for using across all four walls, rather than confined to an accent area, giving the feeling of metaphorically sitting in a cosy, welcoming hug. 

Here, vibrant accessories give it a little more oomph, from the pop of punchy red to the energising tone of this cobalt blue vase (blue and yellow make great bedfellows), which both bring an uplifting feel. Alternatively, dressing the same space with pared-pack foliage rather than flowers, and switching out the bright accessories for some moodier grey and brown-toned pieces, would instantly introduce a more Autumnal vibe.

Just as a well-executed approach to accessorising can transform an outfit, applying a similar approach to interiors can be equally impactful: here, a muted peachy tone replaces more overt yellows on the walls, yet the bold punch of apple green used to create an 'alternative' picture rail offers the interiors equivalent of jazzing up a plain dress with a statement necklace. While its contrasting colour does a lot of the heavy lifting, aesthetically speaking, the choice of beaded moulding over a more traditional wooden architrave subverts the look further, creating something far more contemporary. 

To achieve something similar at home, paint your moulding first before fixing it to your wall with panel pins and wood glue, for a crisp finish. Alternatively, use paint alone for a similar effect without the additional fixings, using masking tape to create a neat band of colour. Or - if you're feeling artistic - go freehand with a brush or small roller and no fixed guides, embracing the organic imperfection applying paint in this way will produce. 

Wall : Springtime Peach 2014-50. Bobble Picture Rail : Adam Green 2037-40

Similarly, adding a strategic painted panel of vibrant hue can quickly create an uplifting Springtime feel (and could easily be repainted if you fancy a change later down the line, too). Using a contrasting paint colour to draw attention to an architectural detail or key fixture within a space (such as this cooker hood) shows the power of a standalone colour punch: aside from the odd piece of fruit on the worktops, this vibrant coral has no other real colour competition, and is left to act as sole star of the show. 

If you like the concept but would prefer a visually softer look, look at ways to balance out this accent pop by introducing similar tones into other areas of the room, whether through paint (on cupboard doors, for example) or via smaller accents such as drawer pulls or decorative accessories. Conversely, bringing in more of your statement shade across the room can tone down its overall impact, so consider how much 'wow' you personally want to factor in.

Cooker Hood :  Sunset Boulevard 082. Right Light Shade :  Lemon Twist 394.
Middle Light Shade :  Feather Soft 1431. Left Light Shade : Hannity Green 646

Following a similar train of thought, smaller surface areas like ledges and shelves can offer a conveniently confined place to play with more vibrant colours, like this warm orange-red. Highlight architectural details like this ledge with a bold lick of red, for instant fiery warmth: while this tone can bring positive shifts to energy levels, it can also subconsciously signal danger, so playing with it in small doses, such as using it to paint picture frames or peg rails, can offer a less risky yet still impactful accent.

Outside of walls and ceilings, textiles often take up a fair chunk of room real-estate, and as such can be used strategically to refresh spaces seasonally. This approach can have practical as well as aesthetic benefits - think switching out thick lined curtains and heavy wool throws for something a little lighter and breezier in warmer months or rolling up a shagpile rug and replacing it with a flat-weave alternative, for example. 

Here, these lightweight retro-style linen curtains pick up on the bold terracotta-tinged red of the feature wall they hang next to, while natural wood - used across the floor and on a side table - help temper its bright tone without fighting to steal the show.

Walls : Raspberry Blush 2008-30

While darker brown tones can feel visually heavy, bringing in hues on the lighter and warmer end of this spectrum can feel surprisingly light and Spring-esque: breaking up walls with a pale yet warm off-white on the top third gives an overall lift to this tranquil yet bright bedroom space, while the casually mis-matched linens on the bed bring out its pinky undertones. 

Linen can be a great trans-seasonal bedding choice: as a natural material, it is inherently breathable - helping to regulate body temperature during sleep - while its naturally 'imperfect' texture lends itself to looser styling over anything overly starched or formal looking. A few simple sprigs of greenery bring freshness and balance.

Walls : Venetian Portico AF-185. Ceiling : Steam AF-15

If you're feeling inspired to be a little more creative with your paint choices, now could be a good time to consider bringing in a little DIY pattern, to really freshen things up. Alcoves - or even just a niche within a built-in storage unit - can provide an entry-level space to play a little with paint, without the pressure of having an entire wall to fill. Nature itself is a great place to find pattern references: find a few images (or real-life specimens) you like the look of, and experiment with painting simple shapes that represent them (think leaves, stems or petals), practising on paper first until you're ready to start working them onto your alcove. 

This can also be a great way to use up leftover paint from previous decorating projects - otherwise, purchasing a few strategically selected tester pots can be a cost-effective way to bring in the colours you want. For a more obvious nod to Spring, try adding motifs which nod to daffodils and tulips, or keep it subtle with more general nature-inspired shapes in pastel-tinged tones. 

Walls : Kensington Green 710. Shelf : Decorators White OC-149

More about our Guest Editor, Joanna Thornhill
Jo is considered an industry expert and is sought after for her practical, insightful advice which blends her knowledge of decorating and design trends with her passion for digging deeper into the 'why' behind how they make us feel. She has authored several successful interiors books, including My Bedroom is an Office and The New Mindful Home (both published by Laurence King), which help demystify design theory with hands-on guidance for tailoring the advice to suit your own home. She can be found at joannathornhill.co.uk or on Instagram @joannathornhillstylist
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