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Why your Home doesn’t feel Calm (and the easy Fixes)

Calm interiors bring with them such a sense of comfort and tranquility, but they’re not always easy to get right. The main reason is that people tend to think that creating a calm space requires a lot of white paint, furniture and accessories. Sadly, what ends up happening is that these rooms end up feeling sterile, cold and far too crisp. Kinda the exact opposite of what you were trying to achieve.

The truth is, you can create a calm and soothing home without whitening it at all. And the images in this post prove it. They come courtesy of the Dulux 2018 colour forecast, and this particular look is what the team call Essential (you can read more about the trend here).

What I find most intriguing about these images is how far they go in making the interiors in question feel calm, quiet, soft and consoling. So let’s explore some ideas and inspiration to help you create a calming interior at your place.

subdued living room from dulux with muted grey sofa and leather cushion

Calm Interiors let Neutrals Mingle

Creating a calming interior is all about exploring neutrals. You should let a variety of colours play together in a space, but ensure the intensity of the colour is turned right down.

If you’re hunting for a foundation colour for walls, look to soft grey shades and muted olive tones. Mixing beige and grey together (what people are calling ‘greige’) is an interesting approach too, because it brings out the best in both colours and makes the walls feel warm. Dusty blushes and soft champagne tones would also work in large doses here. Stone and pewter shades are also your friend.

The image above is a great example of a room where white is used in a small dose, and yet the scene feels wonderfully relaxing. The wall is a soft olive green, the sofa a soothing grey, and the surrounding decor is just as easy on the eye. Are you a fan of this look?

dining room with polished concrete floor and rendered brick wall

calm bedroom colours from dulux with soft blue bed linen | TLC Interiors

Materials are Enhanced, not Concealed

Calming rooms also use colour to highlight and enhance the finishes and materials in the space. They don’t conceal them.

Wood panelling and exposed brick feature walls are made even better by using paints with suede finishes to make them soothing but imperfect. You definitely want to see the surface of these materials, but colouring them in a light tone allows them to blend into the space, as opposed to having them be a standout feature.

Light, raw timbers would also benefit from a lime wash if you really want to ramp up the feeling of calm in the room. It gives the timbers a lush milky quality but you still get to celebrate and admire the wood grain.

As you may have guessed, texture plays a huge part in making a space feel calming as well. This post goes into more detail on using texture properly if you need some ideas.

timber floorboards in bedroom with vertical timber wall panelling by dulux 2018

Tip: Flip the concept of white walls on its head. Painting your space in muted or muddy tones – and using white as an accent through decor – will bring a better sense of calm to the room.

white subway tile bathroom with powder blue bathroom door from dulux

Focal Points Exist, just Choose them Wisely

You’ve probably heard me say on the blog before that every rooms needs a focal point. Thankfully, even calm interiors can still play by this rule. The only thing to bear in mind is that the focal point in a soothing space is less intense. And you should choose it wisely.

The image above is a nice example of a smart focal point. See how the bathroom is elevated simply by painting the door a dusty blue tone? The handle and lock are in a creamy grey, which adds more interest and depth to the look. So much better than stark white hardware, don’t you think?

Below you’ll see another way to introduce a focal point in an interesting way. A muddy clay tone has been used on a staircase here to great effect. Again, this space has no white in it, the materials are celebrated, there’s a pop of colour, and it still feels completely serene and calm.

Time to start thinking outside the box with your paint choices, right!?

whitewashed timber staircase from dulux with white pannelled wall

How do you Create a Calm Interior?

I hope this post has given you some food for thought regarding colour. And I hope it has helped you understand using it to create a calm interior.

I’d love to get your thoughts in the comments below. How do you go about making the rooms in your home feel calm and soothing? And have you tried a paint colour recently and had great results with it?

Share away!

(All but the hero image in this post come via Dulux. Styling by Bree Leech and photography by Lisa Cohen). Hero image via OZ Design.


Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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