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In the first of her monthly on-line features for beyond, interior designer, Bess Sturman, discusses how to introduce hue to the home.

I t’s perhaps a situation many home-owners have found themselves in: wanting to inject colour into their homes, but not quite being brave enough to take the leap and go for it, opting for neutrals that will be timeless and ‘safe’ instead.

“A lot of my clients ‘fear’ colour at first. They worry that they will make a bad decision and choose palettes that don’t work together, or that the colours they like now won’t stand the test of time and they’ll later fall out of love with them,” said Bess. “But with a considered and thoughtful approach to selecting hue, it can be a lot less daunting than people think.”

For Bess, colour plays a central role in her design process and aesthetic. “I really do believe that colour makes people happy. Alongside the right form and function of a room, colour can make a space feel homely and also brings personality to a home. Warm tones, light brights or stand-out bolds can all work to create a relaxed, comfortable environment where people can enjoy spending time.  I think the way my designs use colour is a big part of why clients describe them as cosy, intimate and liveable.

“I think my affection for colour can be traced back to the places I have travelled, the books I have read and even what I’m watching on Netflix. Nature is also a huge source of inspiration for me: running with my dog here in Ilkley fills my imagination with ideas that I can translate into schemes for clients.

“I recently attended the Maison et Objet design show in Paris and it was really encouraging to see so many brands and designers work with strong colour palettes to create some really special pieces,” said Bess. “Talking to the designers about how and why they use colour gave me even more impetus to explore ways we can weave colour in to our projects going forward.”

Stepping into colour

Bess works closely with clients to introduce the idea of colour for a scheme: “If you pop all the elements for an entire project into a sample box, it can look really bright and, sometimes, overwhelming. To help clients envisage the end result, we provide 3D drawings to show how the various items will work alongside one another. The end result in a completed room scheme always looks much more gentle and sympathetic to surroundings.

“I never push a client to go with a colour scheme that they are not comfortable with though. There are always different options to explore and, by working closely with clients from the start of a project through to completion, we ensure they are always delighted with the final outcome.

“Clients often comment that, “they would never have chosen the colour combination themselves, but it just works” which is, I think, testament to giving colour a go!”

Once the idea of using colour has been discussed, Bess then works with the client to establish which colours they personally like. Sources of inspiration can come from clients’ wardrobes or the art they like, as well as images clients may have selected from magazines, Instagram or Pinterest. These themes are then developed by Bess and her team to create a starting point in the design process.

“I also spend a lot of time getting to know my clients: who they are, what makes them tick, what’s important to them and their family. I do this whilst considering the style of their home and the surrounding scenery and use this to guide my designs,” Bess comments.

Painting walls isn’t the only way to weave in hue to a home though. “Committing to colour solely through paint can feel daunting for some people so we often gently work in strands of colour through things like curtains, an accent chair, cushions, artwork or rugs.

“So for clients that are still unsure whether to embrace colour fully, my advice is to choose a neutral scheme to start with and then add colour with accessories. By doing this, you can be sure that you won’t regret any decisions made as accessories can always be swapped in or out at a later stage.”

To find out more about Bess’ work, visit or follow her on Instagram @bess_designs

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