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19 ways to embrace the optimistic decorating trend

Positivity leads the way this year with brighter hues, naïve designs and jubilant patterns all helping to lighten the mood. Here are your reasons to be cheerful....

optimistic decorating
Jon Day Photography for Crown Paints

This season, we’re embracing joy wholeheartedly – and so is much of the design world (devout minimalists aside). Read on for our edit of the key trends, buys and names to know, plus quick ways to inject a bit of positivity into your next decorating project.

Fans of colour and pattern will also find kinship in Liz Roache’s collection for Pierre Frey, and inspiration in our resident colour expert Kassia St Clair’s incisive take on the history of colour psychology.

Perhaps you might curate a home gallery with images that make you smile, be buoyed by these murals on your next neighbourhood wander, or explore Luke Edward Hall’s optimistic-to-the-max Hotel Les Gares. Most importantly? Have fun with it – as the last year has decisively demonstrated, a happy home is the one that speaks to you.

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1 Refresh your paintwork
happy home decorating ideas
Ben Carpenter for Claybrook

Claybrook has introduced six new paint shades that all reflect today’s mood. The two boldest hues are ‘Emerald Beetle’ (a vivid jade green) and ‘Carly’s Lippy’ – shown here on the door and chair in the eggshell finish (left). Painted woodwork and furniture are an ideal way to introduce bursts of colour. Paired with walls painted in ‘Kate’s Blush’, the pink and red really pack a punch. From £45 for 2.5 litres of matt emulsion; and £30 for 1 litre of eggshell, claybrookstudio.co.uk

2 Try the new primary palette
happy home decorating ideas
Photography: Beth Evans; Styling: Kiera Buckley-Jones

Getting the colour balance right for this look is essential, so pick contemporary variations of block primary hues as your base. Here, we’ve combined furniture pieces in cherry red, azure blue and bumblebee yellow to set the scene, with touches of lilac and fern green to add depth. It’s important to keep patterns to a minimum for a sophisticated effect – simply allow these bold hues to sing out against neutral white walls. 'Smalto' table by Barber & Osgerby for Knoll, £4,176, scp.com; La DoubleJ 'Rainbow' plate and bowl, £80, matchesfashion.com; set of six linen napkins, £92, and 12 piece 'Rainbow' cutlery set, £130, both matildagoad.com

3 Upholster a room divider
happy home decorating ideas

Introduce a loud pattern on a screen in an otherwise neutrally decorated room. Team with upholstery in the more subtle tones found in the pattern to maintain a level of sophistication. 'Burano' fabric, £113 per metre, rubelli.com

4 Make the eco choice
happy home decorating ideas
Donna Wilson

Designed by Donna Wilson for Lorena Canals, this ‘Woolable’ rug (natural wool that’s machine washable) is handmade in India, with a base of recycled cotton yarn. 'It brought together my two loves –colourful textiles and wool!' enthuses Wilson. The ‘Pie Chart’ rug (on the floor) is a version of a design she first knitted as a blanket. £173, donnawilson.com

5 Take to the floor
happy home decorating ideas
Stephen Kent Johnson

If short on wall space, a large-scale patterned floor is a brilliantly bold and effective way to introduce pattern. To avoid overkill, try different pattern styles in your furnishings within the same colour family. 'California Poppy' by Rodarte from £3,572 for 1.83 x 1.22 metre, therugcompany.com

6 Team a loud wallpaper with statement pieces
happy home decorating ideas
Cole and Son

This contemporary conversational (meaning it depicts a scene) wallpaper of three Royal Historic Palaces – Hampton Court, Tower of London and Kensington Palace – has an illustrative, children's book feel. Therefore a childlike approach to shape and pattern is the perfect companion – chunky tableware in primary hues tempered with charcoal grey chairs and walnut floors ground the scheme. £165 per 10 metre roll, cole-and-son.com

7 Find the right words
optimistic decorating
Hotel Magique for Anthropologie

These cushions are the result of a collaboration between graphic designer Milou Neelen's Hotel Magique label and Anthropologie. The collection comprises tableware, posters, textiles, candles in wonderfully retro designs inspired by hotels – many feature words of positive affirmation in a charmingly loose handwriting. Cushions from £48, anthropologie.com

8 Get to know the maximalist masters
happy home decorating ideas
Interior Design: Johnson Hartig; Photography: Paul Costello

Founded in New York in 1889 by French immigrants, you could say the timeline of Schumacher is the story of America. Then there are the countless collaborations with great decorators that span generations, including Elsa Schiaparelli, Cecil Beaton and Frank Lloyd Wright. With new collections each month, Schumacher’s approach is truly ‘more is more’. This March, it opens its first showroom in Europe at Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour. Sofa in ‘Jokhang Tiger Velvet’ fabric by Johnson Hartig for Libertine, £550 per metre, fschumacher.com

9 Call on colour-blocked wallpaper
happy home decorating ideas
Ottoline Colour Blocking wallpaper

Introduce all the positive vibes in one punchy hit with Ottoline’s ‘Colour Blocking’ paper. At present, it's made to order – priced at £50 per metre – due to increased demand (it's a perfect dose of that vibrant colour that everyone's currently craving). Plans to tweak the design with an additional border are underfoot. £165 for a 10-metre roll, thefabriccollective.com

10 Choose hand-painted tiles
happy home decorating ideas
Wayne Pate for Balineum

Sarah Watson, founder of Balineum, spotted Wayne Pate’s work on Instagram and saw potential for a new range of tiles. Although not a formally trained artist, Brooklyn-based Pate’s portfolio is vast, working mainly in mixed media. ‘There is a lot of collage, whether it be paper or linen on canvas. A simple application of paint directly on a single piece of paper is never considered,’ he says. The nine tile designs have a loose and lively aesthetic, evocative of Pate’s free-spirited style. Tiles, £21.60 each, balineum.co.uk

11 Meet the fashion set
happy home decorating ideas

Curators of cool Molly Molloy (former Marni design director) and Lucinda Chambers (ex-fashion director of Vogue) are the women behind hip brand Colville. Now they’ve added a homeware string to
their bow with cushions, throws and rugs. Brighten up your rooms with their vibrant textiles. From £375, colvilleofficial.com

12 Embrace the kaleidoscope effect
happy home decorating ideas
Black Edition by Romo

This attention-grabbing woven jacquard in a kaleidoscope of colours is taken from Black Edition’s recent ‘Zafaro’ collection. The unusual feathered surface has been created by leaving large, loose threads of yarn when the piece is woven, which are subsequently cut to create rows of circular fringing. These will ripple as the fabric moves, making it perfect for curtains – or use it to give your cushions a textural refresh. ‘Susulu’ fabric in ‘Multi’, £151 per metre, blackedition.com

13 Be brave with pattern
optimistic decorating
Natasha Coverdale, Wallpaper designer for Lick

When web-only paint brand Lick launched last year with its user-friendly site and paint swatches that came as stickers, it was a breath of fresh air. It’s no surprise then that its new wallpaper collection is something special. A collaboration with Brighton- based graphic artist and brand consultant Natasha Coverdale sees her psychedelic blooms turned into four wallpaper repeats. ‘Electric Poppies’, both £125 for a 10.5m roll, lickhome.com; studiocoverdale.com

14 Pimp your stairs
happy home decorating ideas
Alex Proba

The bold decorator leaves no surface unconsidered, so why not try patterned tiles on your stairs? It's a tad unexpected and will brighten up what is often an overlooked – and yet heavily trafficked – part of the home. These sunny examples are part of the Aurora collection by surface designer Alex Proba for Concrete Collaborative. £94 for a box of 13 tiles, concrete-collaborative.com; studioproba.com

15 Say it with flowers
happy home decorating ideas
Appreciation Project

Dried flowers may conjure up memories of potpourri – but the latest incarnation is very de rigueur. Think pink ornamental grass, coral gypsophila, red eucalyptus and yellow hydrangea – eclectic arrangements in upbeat tones. Preserved using an eco-friendly process, these can be admired for up to one year. From £39, appreciationproject.co.uk

16 Choose transportive pattern and colour
happy home decorating ideas
Pierre Frey

Transport yourself to warmer climes with the ‘Eternel Été’ wallpaper and the ‘Joie De Vivre’ fabric collections from Pierre Frey. Each design is inspired by the colours, artists and traditions of Provence. Pictured here is ‘Vence’ wallpaper, a sofa upholstered in ‘Catherine’ jacquard fabric and the ‘Parasol’ rug. From £75 per metre, pierrefrey.com

17 Keep an eye on upcoming designers
happy home decorating ideas
Laetitia Rouget for 'Pangea'

Beginning her training at Central Saint Martins with a course in illustration, French polymath Laetitia Rouget’s aesthetic features charming motifs in primary hues with a punk edge. ‘Pangea’, a lockdown project with fashion design friend Colombine Jubert, sees wall hangings and prints made from recycled materials, each representing a value that symbolises the current generation’s struggles. Examples include ‘Chaos’, ‘Nature’ and ‘Joy’. From £50 each, laetitiarouget.com

18 Use more than one colour
happy home decorating ideas
Photograpy: Jon Day for Crown paints

Why stick to one paint colour for your walls? Panelling is an ideal way to section off many shades and gives you grounding if the idea of a free hand wall mural feels you with dread. These walls are a painted in a deft combination of 'Enchanted Ivy', 'Satin Lining', 'English Fire', 'Mustard Jar', 'Powder Blue' and 'Dance Fever'. All crownpaints.co.uk

19 Opt for illustrative prints
happy home decorating ideas
Sasha Compton

British illustrator Sasha Compton's drawings of pots with wiggly lines and smudged block colours are full of personality. Hang a row of her artworks in equally colourful frames or introduce a single piece to an existing gallery wall. £65 for a A4 print, sashacompton.com

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration March 2021

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