Colour Consultancy from Start to Finish with Scott Silcox

Written on 6th March 2020

A colour consultancy generally starts with a chat about the client’s inspiration and where they’d like to land with their finished look. We look at what they’re going to be introducing to the scheme, what’s already there, and where they want to end up, atmosphere-wise – then we figure out a path to get there.

The process is totally tailored to each specific person. You start with their aspirations, but you also have to manage expectations. It’s often about prioritising and knowing where to focus your time – sometimes the space has more that needs doing to it than we have time for in a consultation.

Talking about colours and the usage of the rooms – what time of day they’ll be used, what for, whether they’ll be public or private – is a big part of any colour consultancy, including Victoria and Alex’s. They’d put together reference imagery and had a pretty clear picture in their minds of what they wanted to achieve, but it was made up of a bunch of disparate elements. One thing Victoria had a strong picture of from the beginning was the strong pop of red in the living room, so it was about working backwards from there, working out what sort of tones we’d introduce to make it connect to the colours elsewhere in the house.

Victoria and Alex also knew they wanted Railings on the kitchen cabinets, and when I suggested the Pigeon and Strong White combination for the utility room, something light and bright but not too stark, Victoria got it and loved it straight away. She has a very astute sense of what she likes, but in this process, decisions about colours didn’t so much come down to “do I like it or don’t I?” as “is this the choice that feels best?”.

"Because [these colours] sit under the radar, they hold that little bit of magic

Where we had a little more experimentation was in finding a neutral that would pair with the red in the living room. We explored shades like Dimity and Skimming Stone, but ended up going with Great White and Peignoir, and I’m so pleased we did. Preference Red and Great White aren’t always the most popular colours, but I think those are the ones that often have the most value. Because they sit under the radar, they hold that little bit of magic.

That’s what makes the archive palette so brilliant too – when you pull it out at a consultation, you can see the excitement in the clients’ eyes when they realise you have something they weren’t necessarily aware of. Because you can’t try out archive colours with sample pots it does sometimes take a leap of faith, but there’s also that thrill of going for that colour because nobody else you know has it.

Another great thing about giving a consultation is that, even if you have clients with a very strong sense of their own style, like Alex and Victoria, there are usually still things they hadn’t thought about. A great example in this case was the orangery, which had a strange choice of colour on the woodwork. When I changed that base from the existing greenish neutral to something that matched the exterior of the house, they were flabbergasted at the difference it made.

The discussion about finishes is also something that people don’t necessarily consider, and Victoria and Alex certainly didn’t go into the consultancy with a sense of how many choices they were. Colour is only half the equation – the other half is making sure you have the correct finish for the surface you’re painting, because nobody’s happy with a surface that looks good for less time than you think it should.

"Colour is only half the equation – the other half is the finish

When you come in looking at things from a different, more critical perspective, you can see the constraints more easily – light, difficult flooring, all the things that can limit our choices. And, because you’re seeing what your client is seeing in situ, they feel more trusting of the observations you make. Something they might have trouble discussing in the showroom, they’re more confident about expressing in their own home.

When thinking about what you want for your own home, I’d say think about your happy places, the stuff you’re inspired by, and try to think about the big picture. Assemble some images that really capture the feeling you’re after. Sometimes the way we get to where we want to be isn’t so obvious, but usually with some trial and error – and someone to guide you through a rather large collection of colours! – we can usually hit it pretty close.

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