How to use strong colours in a small room

When my son moved out I knew it was time to make changes to the room that had previously been his bedroom.

We have a lovely open plan kitchen, living & dining room downstairs and I wanted a room that I could escape to for a little peace & quiet, a place to sit quietly, read and relax & the now empty room was just crying out for a makeover.
 
The house was built in the late 1700’s for a Packet Ship captain and has the most beautiful big Georgian windows and original shutters, but apart from that not many other original features still exist, so I didn’t feel the need to keep the room an homage to the past, but just a nod and a wink here and there.

Bedruthan Coloured Paint
The room isn’t a big room at 10ft x 12ft but I knew that I wanted the room to have a real personality and my starting point was the colour. I decided on the most beautiful deep teal, a colour from our own paint range (no longer available online but feel free to message us if you would like to order ) People are often afraid of using a strong colour on the walls as they are afraid it wall make the room feel smaller, but it can in fact make the area feel bigger. All the woodwork is painted in Farrow & Ball Pointing, a lovely knocked back white that doesn’t look as harsh as a bright white.
Upcycled chest of drawersNot only did I want the room to be a cosy and comfortable hideaway but it would also need to be a spare bedroom as well & finding a sofa bed that would fit up the stairs and look stylish as well was a real challenge. In the end I opted for a navy velvet sofa bed that came ready to assemble in a simple unfussy design that was easy to get upstairs. Velvet is a great all round furnishing fabric and can look really luxe, but my top tip is to keep to lighter colours, a navy velvet shows up every spec of dust and when you have a pet every hair shows up, so I am constantly hoovering and cleaning with my lint roller!

I found 2 cosy curved airforce velvet chairs from one of our suppliers that just perfect for snuggling up with a book in. What I really like about them apart from the shape is that they are piped in a slightly lighter blue that accentuates the curves.
Another fun thing in the room is the chest of drawers that I decorated with decoupage and gives them an antique look without being too stuffy. You can read all about how to create this for yourself in our blog on upcycling.
Coastal upcycled furniture
And now for the fun bit, choosing the soft furnishings and art to put on the walls. I have lots of things I’ve collected over the years, things I love, things that have been given to me and some that have real sentimental value and I would never part with. These are things that bring real personality and uniqueness to a room and are the final touches that add soul.

To fit in with the history of the house I chose our Shipwreck cushions to add a bit of subtle pattern and drama to the room. Their unique designs fit perfectly with the history of the house and whilst they are decorative they don’t shout out too loudly. The walls have a variety of pieces decorating them, a real eclectic mix that somehow just works. 
Unique coastal shipwreck cushions and lampshade
The first pieces I put up I found in St Ives in a shop in a small back street and are by an artist called Max Wildman. He paints in the style of Alfred Wallis, going to boot fairs and picking up old frames that he then uses to mount his paintings in, and this gives his work a real sense of age. The great thing about these pieces of art is that they are very affordable and also small in size so that you can keep adding to them; the aim is to eventually fill the wall with paintings.

There are other pieces in here as well, something I made whilst on a workshop with Melissa White & Natasha Hulse at Ham Yard Hotel. I love this piece of art for the memories that it brings of a great weekend away with Rebecca, where we met some lovely people, indulged in too much food and wine and lost ourselves in creativity.  I also love the old school prints from the 50’s that hang in here as well as drawing my son did when he was 7 of St Ives harbour and a photograph my sister gave me that she took on a pinhole camera that she hung outside for a year and it shows the stars and planets as they move across the night sky.
Shipwreck cushion on navy velvet sofa
To add a little more colour to the room I have a hand knotted carpet that I bought from Libertys more than 30 years ago, it’s a lovely deep red with blue and cream accents, just the perfect piece. I have a beautiful brass shell table light that I bought from an art deco antique shop in Redruth a few years ago, with a vintage lightbulb that creates a lovely warm glow in the corner of the room and I added our brass scallop shell candle holders on the opposite wall. They really come into their own in the evening when the light is on and the candles are lit and I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather be. 
Coastal inspired mood board for dark painted rooms

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