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The Insider: How to do brights (and not get a headache)

Kate Burt
Saturday 22 October 2011 21:05

I'm still scarred by the sitting-room I painted slightly the wrong orange a decade ago. Things went white for a long time – that was the noughties for you – but encouraged by good vibes from my Yves Klein-blue kitchen wall, I'm ready for more. To sidestep previous eye ache, I sought the expertise of prop stylist Will Taylor, who runs the brilliant, devoted to all things, well, bright...

Take it slow

"Introduce colour by layering bolder hues in gently," says Taylor, "a few bright accessories to break up the neutral base without dominating. Only then should you think about bolder statements such as skirting boards or colour around a door frame."

Quality time

Bad paint was my mistake. "Use cheaper brands only for complementary neutral shades where quality is less noticeable," advises Taylor. For bigger spaces, he rates Kevin McCloud's new Fired Earth shades. Also – shock – Farrow and Ball's surprisingly bright 1950s orange, "Charlotte's Locks".

Colour me trad

It doesn't need to be drastic: accessorise with michellemason. or's colourful cushions, throws and tea towels. In London? Try Rice in Covent Garden "for bright melamine or quirky patchwork textiles. Zara Home, M&S and John Lewis are also bursting with colour." (And I love Katy Binks's heartily hued paintings at

Clash test dummy

Google the Dulux Colour Studio's "mouse painter" and upload a photo of your room to try before you buy.

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Use two complementary base colours – say, navy and orange – big, then add a third, contrasting, colour as a surprise element in a textile or piece of art. "Clashy but not garish," advises Taylor.

Find Kate's blog on affordable interiors at

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