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How Using Blocks of Colour can Transform a Room

It might remind you of a Mondrian abstract painting or the opening title graphics of a 1980s TV game show, but colour-blocking is a retro design technique that is enjoying a resurgence in interior design today. Pairing two or more solid, often bold, bright colours with geometric shapes and sometimes black and white stripes has been around in art and fashion for a century, but only really in interiors since the 80s when it burst out of the Milan scene. Despite the obvious links to that primary-coloured decade, when done well, colour-blocking can make a stylish, affordable impact in the home.

It’s not an interior design trend for everyone, but if you’ve ever confidently gone out wearing a neon pink skirt, a turquoise top and yellow shoes, then you’ve got what it takes to use blocks of colour to transform any room in your house. Before you dismiss the idea because you don’t want your living room to look like a primary school classroom, keep reading, because making a bold statement can simultaneously be subtle. Anything can be your canvas for block colour – you don’t have to divide your walls into quarters and layer on the poster paints. Window recesses, drawer fronts, doors, and even floors, can all be used to stunning effect with block colours.

Colour blocking is the art of combining two or more colours in one area. Back in the day, these were more often primary colours, but today there are no real rules, in fact, sometimes the more surprising combinations are the most effective, as long as you stick to a limited palette. Think pink cushions on a red sofa, or an orange handle on a dark green door. It’s subversively stylish, often going against other design principles, yet instantly noticeable. It can enliven a bland space, negate the need for expensive wall art, and highlight the features in your home in a clever way. Here are some areas you can consider:

Colour Blocking – Bedrooms

Steer clear of the bold colours and contrast muted shades instead for a more soothing overall feel. You can use blocks of colour with pastels or by introducing a thin stripe as your contrast, and it will still have an impact.

Dressing room in our Old School House project (click here to find out more)

Colour Blocking – Kitchens

There’s no rule that says that all kitchen units have to be the same colour. Consider a run of doors in your chosen palette, tied to accessories elsewhere in the same colour. Or go two-tone with upper and lower cupboard doors. You can even alternate drawer fronts for a more restrained look.

We love @Oxfordone’s colourful Instagram feed!
More muted colour blocking in Geordie Jen’s Abode kitchen

Colour Blocking – Architectural Features

Window frames painted to contrast with the wall colour are a great opportunity to try out colour-blocking, as are wall recesses. There’s no limit to where you can dip your toe into the technique, as long as you take a holistic view to maintain harmony. Even random blocks of a herringbone floor work well. Consider the effect of light switches and plug sockets in a contrasting colour to your wall as a rebellious taster if you don’t feel you can go all the way!

Gorgeous muted green window frames in one of our projects in Dorchester, with pink dining chairs adding a burst of colour.
Add pops of colour in bedrooms with headboards, cushions and beautiful light fittings.

Colour Blocking – Furniture

As with the kitchen cupboards, blocking can work on other pieces of furniture too. Many period wooden doors have four panels that are crying out to be painted in different colours. Flashes of colour in unexpected places are also fantastic – the inside of a wardrobe clashing with the carcass, for example.

Colourful furniture and alcove by @Oxfordone

If you want to know more about how to use blocks of colour in your home or have seen any examples that you love, let me know! And check out my Interior Design services here.

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