In my job as a stylist, a 10-colour palette has evolved as the best starting point for decorating a space. This palette gives me positive boundaries to work with and, whether I use two, four, six or all of the colours, it allows me to play with the mood of a room of a house while ensuring a unified end result. Feel free to use the colours I love as your own, but creating your own 10-colour palette relies on drawing inspiration from your surroundings.
1. Walk around your house and pinpoint the things you already own and love.
It might be a beautiful porcelain bowl, a postcard, a cocktail ring, an embroidered tablecloth inherited from your grandmother, or the print on your favourite dress. Consider everything: jewellery, clothes, food, garden flora and fauna, photographs, anything made with fabric or paper, solid colours and patterns, silverware and ceramics, art, buttons, ribbons and trims.
2. Look to nature.
The beauty of nature reveals colour combinations and textures that rarely disappoint. I once did a photoshoot based entirely around the colours of a monarch butterfly: Damascus red, mustard and ochre oranges, and dirty cream. I pick up feathers, leaves, flowers, rocks and tree branches. Now it’s your turn to observe nature in the same way.
3. Start looking beyond your immediate surroundings, especially at things that don’t have an interior design purpose, and make a note of what appeals to you.
It could be the falling-off label on an old bottle, a swizzle stick, a crusty street lamp, coins, a weathered shop sign, a discarded playing card, wooden toys, a faded wall of graffiti, silvery puddles on rainy days, crumbly slate from an old roof, crunchy white linen, just-poured cement, or a scene from a favourite movie or novel.
4. Take photos.
Make notes. Start acquiring.
5. Start to play.
Soon it will become obvious that you are attracted to similar things over and over again. Put together a selection of pieces you’ve collected and see what kind of colour palette reveals itself. Add and subtract until it takes on a visual order. There are no right and wrong combinations because it is about finding what makes you happy. Remember, you will be able to use the colours in varying combinations. Some rooms will be quiet and subtle, utilising the softer, more neutral tones. Others will be louder, denser in colour, pattern and texture.