Fear-free ways to spice up your home with colour


“Blackberry wine,” “citrus blast,” and “tropical paradise” conjure up images of lavish dinners, parties in the summer, and relaxing in Hawaii. These paint colours and “thousands” more are waiting for ambitious homeowners to slap them up their walls, creating a room full of personality.

Benjamin Moore’s website has a colour gallery, offering a rainbow of possibilities. Despite the array of exciting choices, their list of most searched paints includes names like “cloud white” and “shaker beige” with the most daring colour being taupe.

A Calgary-based interior designer, Cat Hackman is not surprised. She says that putting a strong colour —like bull’s eye red — on walls can be a huge step.

“It can be a bit scary and overwhelming, and a lot of people are very, very scared of making the wrong choice in colour,” she adds.

But Hackman says that colour is a key element in adding comfort and personality in any room.

“To me, colour is who you are.” – Christian Castellano, Interior DecoratorAnother interior decorator, Christian Castellano agrees. He says colour describes who you are and can change your mood in an instant. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, he adds.

Get inspired

Both Hackman and Castellano say the first step is to find an inspiration.

Hackman suggests opening your closet and seeing what colours you are drawn to. Or walk around your home and see what catches your eye and take note of the colours, she adds.

Castellano, decorator at Mi-Design, says to take a trip to your favourite places, whether it’s your friend’s home or a hip club. “Feeling is more important than liking … you might like purple but you might not feel good in a purple room,” he explains.

Adding colour is easy

Once you’ve found your inspiration, jazzing up that beige-upon-beige room is easy, says Hackman owner of Room4Refinement.

A quick, almost no effort way to add a splash of colour is through accessories, she says. Cushions, coffee-table books and even fresh flowers are all simple and affordable ways to liven up a room, Hackman adds.


Don’t commit to a colour until you are sure of how it will look with the lighting.
Illustration: Devon Jolie
And that goes for every room, Castellano says. He explains that one of the most colourless rooms is often the bathroom, with its white tile and white walls and white toilet paper. He says, “You don’t want to change the cabinets, it’ll cost thousands of dollars.” His fix? Choose a fun and bold shower curtain. And with a price tag of three coffees, you can change it again and again, he adds.

Both concur that art is another great way to add colour. Hackman says you don’t need to break the bank on a one-of-a-kind piece. Head to any home furnishing store and pick out a colourful print or framed poster and you’ve added colour and character to your room, Castellano says.

Castellano also suggests playing with lighting. Lighting creates a mood and ambiance in a room, he says. You can buy different coloured lightbulbs or something as simple as a red lampshade to cast a warm glow into a stark and bland room, he adds.

If you’ve conquered your fear of colour-commitment, Hackman suggests doing a feature wall. Choose one wall in the room and paint it your chosen colour. But beware, adds Hackman, “Paint changes dramatically depending on the light you have in the room.” To avoid any regrets, paint several shades of the colour in little patches on the wall and view them under the lighting in the room to see how it will truly look, she says.

Currently, says Hackman, the trend for a feature wall is actually wallpaper. Castellano actually prefers wallpaper to paint. He says it’s nothing like your granny’s pink-flowered paper of yester-year that was concreted to the wall.

For $30 a roll, he says, “It’s an easy DIY solution for families looking for a quick solution; you can do it in three hours.” And with hundreds of patterns and colours to choose from, there is something for everyone, he adds.

It’s all about you

Whichever way you choose to do it, it’s about you, the designers say.

Hackman says there is no rule you have to stick to when it comes to picking colour. “Choosing colour is very individual and you have to love it.”

Castellano couldn’t agree more. He says, “To me, colour is who you are.”


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