Walls and woodwork painted in Oxford Stone
Scott Silcox is a Colour Consultant at our Marylebone showroom. In this post, he takes us through the process of a colour consultancy from the initial gathering of inspiration to the final schemes. His client is Victoria Magrath of inthefrow.com, a fashion and beauty blogger whose home transformation can be followed on Instagram at @frowhome.
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.
5 Questions with the Client
What effect(s) did you want to achieve with your colour consultancy?
I just needed a second opinion and, in fact, a new set of options. I had a vague idea of what I was going for in each room, but I felt having a colour expert there to help point me in new directions could be worthwhile, and it truly was. I was shown colours I never would have thought of, and colour combinations that were better than I could have chosen, so in a number of rooms, the paints were changed entirely because of these new options presented to me.
Were any of your colour decisions surprising to you?
In the gym, we were initially going to opt for all white everything, but then our Colour Consultant, Scott, presented us with the idea of incorporating some blues into there. We were going to go for a bright blue, but in the ended went for Mizzle, a muted sage green that has fast become my favourite in the house.
What are your favourite rooms now that you’ve had your consultancy?
The grey tones of Wevet and Mizzle in the gym are a match made in heaven. Equally the deep, rich Preference Red in the living room alongside Peignoir and Great White is a colour match like I’ve never seen. And in the guest bedroom, the beautiful Oval Room Blue mixed with dashes of Inchyra Blue is absolutely gorgeous. We’ve now decided to take the same deep blue into the bathroom all over the walls and the floor.
What did you enjoy most about your colour consultancy?
It was a real eye-opener and I honestly haven’t stopped recommending the service since. The biggest factor that affects the colour of the room is the light, and I didn’t really think about this previously. But having Scott there with all the colour boards, we could move the colours around the walls to see how they would react to bright light and deep shadows – that was an enormous help for me.
Were there any preconceptions you had around colour or your own space that were cleared up by the consultancy?
I knew that the size of the room would play a huge role and, to some extent, that the light would alter the tones in the room, but I had no idea that the colours of the walls and ceiling, and even adding colour into the skirting or the coving, would be able to heighten the ceiling and elongate rooms. The paint colours totally make the room what it is and unlock its full potential!