How to introduce colour and pattern to even the most minimalist home

6 easy ways to add drama and impact


For those naturally drawn to simple decorating schemes rather than maximalist design, bright hues and bold patterns might not seem like the most obvious fit for an understated living space. But a few simple tricks are all it takes to inject uplifting tones and tactile textures, so that even the most pared-back home feels more characterful and inviting. Here are our top tips.

1. Accessorise first

If the thought of introducing embellishment of any kind feels like a giant leap, start with soft furnishings that can easily be swapped out if you change your mind. ‘Try combining plain and patterned cushions,’ says Elle Decoration’s contributing editor Emma Love. ‘Alternatively, a rug that’s partially concealed by a coffee table, or curtains that are only reveal their complete pattern when pulled across after dark both create impact in a less obvious, more subtle way.’

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2. Be creative with colour

One tried-and-tested approach to colour is to keep everything tonal, layering fabrics in different nuances of tranquil blue or green, say – not only within one room but also throughout the home. ‘Sticking to a simple colour palette ties all your living spaces together so they flow and keeps a scheme feeling cohesive,’ says Love. Those who feel braver: contrast. ‘The old adage that opposites attract is also true when it comes to colour. If you have a ruby red, why not bring in an indigo blue to catch the eye? As long as there aren’t too many clashing shades, it works.’

3. Remember less is more

Prints and patterns don’t need to be elaborate and OTT: it is possible to embrace both more subtly. Try white-on-white textures together; arrange plain bathroom tiles in a herringbone formation; or position a mirror so that it reflects other shapes and lines in a room. ‘Introducing metal accents, such as bronze or copper, can also bring in an element of richness without being flashy,’ says Love, citing a fleck of gold in a marble surface or a brass table lamp as examples. Painting wooden chair or table legs but leaving the main frame natural is another clever way to introduce a splash of colour and breathe new life into a much-loved piece of furniture.


4. Choose a statement piece

‘Think about how the eye travels through a room and use colour to direct it. If walls are neutral, pick furniture in a single block hue with a soft, curving shape and the eye will automatically be drawn along its length,’ says Love. ‘It can completely transform a room.’ Take, for instance, the Grand Designs range of sofas and armchairs at DFS. With clean lines, generous proportions and tactile fabrics such as velvets, chenille and weaves, each piece acts as a stylish focal point – and taps into the growing shift towards conscious shopping habits by being made from innovative sustainable materials too. Choose from four sumptuous styles, including the mid-century-inspired Edinburgh and the striking, architectural Kent.

5. Add an element of surprise

‘One of the most discreet ways to add pattern is in an unexpected place,’ suggests Love. ‘Lining drawers or storage boxes with a pretty wallpaper or fabric, choosing a floral curtain lining or staining the inside of a wooden wardrobe a favourite shade are all fun, joyful details that add interest. Plus, if the pattern or colour is hidden away, you don’t see it all the time, which means that it won’t feel too overwhelming.’

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6. Layer patterns

Try mixing and matching different types of patterns, such as floral and geometric, together. ‘Too much of one thing can feel like overkill, especially in a minimalist home,’ says Love. Also, consider scale. Stick to one large print in the room and echo that with smaller accent patterns. This will ensure your room feels balanced and in harmony.

To discover more about the Grand Designs collection at DFS, visit

Grand Designs™ FremantleMedia Ltd. All rights reserved

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