How to give your home a little more flavour
This incredible home in Johannesburg is an architectural wonder, with an expressive use of concrete. The grey though makes the perfect backdrop to a pair of antique chairs that have been custom-painted in a vivid saffron yellow. First featured in the December 2015 edition. Photographer Elsa Young.
The saffron yellow the homeowner painted her chairs in, also coordinates perfectly with key artworks. First featured in the December 2015 edition. Photographer Elsa Young.
In this house in Antwerp, a mustard yellow wall adds a pop of heat to a room that could otherwise feel quite cold. The colour runs across the same flank wall throughout, and is also picked up in cushions and key pieces of furniture. First featured in May 2014. Photographer Gaelle Le Boulicant.
An all-white home is given a lift with the brave choice of a ginger spice upholstered "Tufty Time" sofa by B&B Italia. First featured in the June 2015 edition. Photographer Verne. Production/Styling Marc Heldens/AnnVereecken.
Sometimes even a splendid flower display in cinnamon brights is enough to give a space a boost. It certainly works in this otherwise all-white apartment. First featured in the March 2016 edition. Photographer Jansje Klazinga.
A clean, chic, typically Danish home is enlivened by painting a narrow hallway in a deliciously, deep cochineal red, and using it to display the homeowner's artworks. The colour is then echoed in the main space, which is all white, by a single red-lacquered Habitat cabinet. First featured in the June 2016 edition. Photographer Birgitta Wolfgang.
Detail of the red hallway, seen previously in this home in Copenhagen. Dark colours always make wonderful backdrops for artwork. It also makes what could have been a real Cinderella space, into something marvellous. Photographer Birgitta Wolfgang.
This Parisian apartment, despite having an extraordinary infrastructure, still benefits from the striking addition of a gloss yellow vintage chair. First featured in the September 2015 edition. Photographer Birgitta Wolfgang.
A touch of spice
Neutrals, love’em, especially grey, as talked up in Trendbulletin5, but there’s no denying, a room finished in one tonal palette, however beautifully done and exquisitely replete with texture, could still feel a little one-dimensional, especially if its architectural context is more London Victorian semi than Parisian Haussman; by which I mean you probably have less infrastructural intrigue to throw into the interiors mix (much can be forgiven if you have high ceilings and some nice original mouldings.) So what to do?
Just as in cooking, sometimes all it needs is a touch of spice, the merest pinch of paprika, saffron or cinnamon to add depth and an element of surprise. It’s about the hint of something indefineable, a little taste-lift that you can’t quite put your finger on where it’s come from, rather than a great big dollop that overwhelms the whole dish. Think of it as follows: where salt heightens, pepper heats and butter smoothes, spice is infinitely more subtle, in many ways adding a perfectly blended smidgeon of all of the above.
It’s easy to add a touch of spice with a few pillows: From left Pink pillowcases, £42 each; duvet cover, £259; ‘Heather’ cushions (pictured in Grey and Velvet), £178 each; ‘Raul’ cushions (two pictured), £106 each, all Aiayu (aiayu.com)
In the home this translates as “the considered selection of accessories or a single star piece”. In other words, think of the spice as the accent colour you might use to add a pop of love to a grey sofa, the contrasting shade of fabric to upholster a statement lounge chair in, rather than going all matchy matchy, or the hue to choose for a single statement wall, or even simply the colour pick for your flowers. And the very names of the most popular spices are your colour cues: turmeric yellow, darker than lemon but lighter than curry; a dash of chilli, more punchy than orange but not as fierce as pure red; or a sprinkle of ginger, sitting somewhere between the two.
Working the “Spice Homes” look. All items from Harrods, including the oversize Anglepoise.
Spice hues work well in combination too, layering one shade over the other in a rich stew of flavours. Caveat: keep the base note simple. Just as when cooking, taking into account our Northern light and palates, better to build from a cool base. Creating whole rooms in colours this hot could end up being dangerously “Changing Rooms”, like a bad pastiche of Morrocco or India without either the heat, smells or soundtrack to lend authenticity. Context is everything.
Text by Michelle Ogundehin, Editor in Chief ELLE Decoration
The April “Decorating” issue of ELLE Decoration UK is on sale from 2 March to 5 April. You’ll be able to download it here. Or you could subscribe here. And get back issues here!
Twitter @ELLEDecoMO Instagram @michelleogundehin
See also michelleogundehin.com