The Use of Accent Colour

Accent Colour pink chair

The art of designing interior space is to create harmony and balance. It is not only about getting the mix of elements right but perfecting the relative blend and strength of those individual ingredients. Accent or statement colours play a key role in creating this harmony and balance. Well chosen, specific doses of dramatic and contrasting colour not only add visual contrast but draw the viewers eye and, if appropriately selected, can pull the ingredients of a room into a delicious recipe of colour.

A good example of this is illustrated below. The striking pink of the Alice chair from adds dramatic contrast to the white dressing table yet ties in with the colour pallet of the flowers and accessories on the dressing table.

It is up to you to decide what your accent colour will be. It can be a feature of the flooring such as a rug or the curtains or the upholstery on a chair. It can even form part of your paint scheme. This bathroom illustrates having the statement colour as part of the paint scheme, adding a contemporary touch to enhance the sanitary ware in this stereotyped country cottage. The accent painted wall is Farrow & Ball Smoke

Accent Colour dark room

It is important not to be afraid of colour. The secret if you are less confident is to limit the accent to a clearly defined detail. And if that detail is a chair or a piece of ceramic, you can move it around to keep refreshing your design.

Accent Colour yellow flower vase

This vivid yellow jug by Squint Limited is a great example.

The best bit of advice I was ever given when creating an accent look is to start small. And, as with all good books every design scheme needs a start point. To help you decide, focus on what your favourite things in that room are. Is it a vase or a rug or a brightly coloured chair? Interior designer Anna Ward of says’ splashes of colour come from objects or soft furnishings or pictures or specific design pieces. I pick the piece I want to focus on and build from there. But the secret is not to overdo it and make it too cluttered or crowded. An accent colour needs space to glow’

Once you have selected your accent piece, use it as the Launchpad for the rest of your design. But build the remaining colour pallet slowly. Work with samples and examples to achieve the exact blend you are trying to create – tear out examples from magazines, tape colour swatches on the wall or pin fabric swatches to existing furnishings to ensure a good colour match.

As I am sure you are now beginning to realise, there are no set rules to working with accent or statement colour. But the balance within your chosen colour pallet is crucial. And the blend between hues and shades can make or break your desired look. The ideal is to keep within the range of one colourway. If you design the room mainly in shades of one colour or potentially a few blending colours on the same spectrum then the accent or statement colour should act as a lightning rod of contrast.

If we use the breakfast room illustrated below as an example. The accent pieces are the red of the winged arm chair and the aquamarine of the two-seater sofa. The contrast between these two elements is drawn together and enhanced using Farrow & Ball Oval Room Blue on the walls, the natural red of the Tudor brickwork on the chimney breast, the warmth of the random board tongue and groove oak floor and the blend of all identified accent colours in the floor rug.

It is interesting to note the use of Duncan Grant fabric from the Charleston museum to added a final swish of colour to enhance the pallet!

Accent Colour dark room with window

A more extreme approach would be to use a single accent colour to dramatic effect on one wall to frame a room. The use of grey as an accent colour in this small London flat illustrates the drama of such a scheme. This approach of a single splash of a very saturated colour placed in an all-white room is easy to do yourself.

Accent Colour light coming into room

Finally, any accent colour should draw the eye. It must be the first thing you look at when you walk into the room. It is a ‘look at me’ moment  and so surround your favourite colourful piece with neutrals and no one will be able to look away!


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