Expert styling and a brave use of colour turns a dark and drab living room into an inviting snug
In partnership with Fleetwood
The brief: Add light and life to a dull and dated living room
One of the most important factors in any interior design project is working with the available light in the space. We’ve all seen the impressive new builds and renovations where walls are knocked and dramatic steps are taken to let the light in. But what about older homes where this isn’t possible, or in keeping with the building?
Ballyrane House is a period property in the heart of Wexford. The north-west facing sitting room was in dire need of an update. The soft furnishings and shades of terracotta throughout not only felt out of style, they were also emphasising the dark, cold feeling in the room.
Fleetwood interior designer Aodhain Scallan, of Inside Design, knew this space needed a colour transformation. Her advice may initially seem counterintuitive.
“Because of the direction this room is facing, it was important to embrace a cooler colour and go with something dark, so that this room felt much more snug,” Aodhain says.
“People assume you should go for a lighter colour, but in a space like this that would work against you. The other reason this really works is because this room has windows that drop almost to the floor. During the day they allow a lot more light in than a standard window that is half the size.”
Because Aodhain understood how the light moved in the space throughout the day, she was able to go for this bold colour choice, Fleetwood Prestige Pantone Deep Teal. Painting elements like the moulding around the windows and doors, the skirting and the shutters in white, helps to introduce some brightness and offset the dark hue of the paint.
The richness of this colour is lifted by the warm wood tones in the room, with the mix of the stained European oak floor, the mahogany antique furniture and the raw wooden fire surround. They considered painting the fireplace in the same colour as the wall which also could have worked well. But by putting in the time and effort to strip it back, they have retained an original feature that enhances the relaxed atmosphere of the room. It was also the most sustainable choice, by working with the existing fire surround instead of needlessly replacing it.
“All together, this mix of dark and light really works to create a space that feels harmonious. In a more light-filled space with a lighter colour as a backdrop, it might not have felt so coordinated,” Aodhain says.
“There is a more formal sitting room at the other side of the house, and as this room is just off the kitchen, it is a space that should feel relaxed and inviting. We’ve achieved that with the colour that envelopes you and by introducing warm elements.”
Antique brass and gold fittings and frames, as well as the lamp from Neptune and light fixtures from Nirvana Lighting in Kilkenny, add a touch of elegance. The blue linen armchairs and pale coloured sofa from Neptune wouldn’t look out of place in a bright Hamptons-style home. This soft, simple yet tactile fabric is a refreshing change from the heavy embroidery and velvets you might traditionally expect to find in a home like this. Choosing pieces that prioritise clean lines and comfort helps to create the laidback feel.
“Colour and textiles are really what finishes a room. The colour of the furniture works here because it picks up the blue undertones in the paint. With a teal colour like this, you will have blue and green mixed in, so it’s really nice to draw on those for your accent colours,” Aodhain says.
Traditional window treatments and luxurious dense fabrics can actually block out a lot of light, so Aodhain went for a pared back look.
“Before, this room had heavy drapes, pelmets, striped fabrics, there was a lot going on and it all felt heavy and dark. What we have now feels simple and light. These blinds from a local supplier, Sheehan’s, feel more modern and yet are still sympathetic to the traditional house. The linen fabric isn’t heavily patterned yet still has a nice texture to it.”
Old and new
When renovating a room, look at the existing furniture as an opportunity. In this room, Aodhain retained the antique furniture and created displays of art and family portraits that really work in this traditional setting, and the once battered coffee table was upcycled so it looks like new.
The finished living room suits modern lifestyles, as it is located just off the kitchen. This is a lovely setting to unwind in, without that formal feeling of a more traditional living room, while still highlighting the home’s characterful features.
To find your nearest Fleetwood Prestige stockist, visit fleetwood.ie. Fleetwood Prestige is exclusive to the Vogue, Ventura and Pantone Colour Collections, and any colour can be mixed into Fleetwood Prestige; fleetwood.ie.