On the Colour Couch with BBC Interior Design Masters Ry Elliott

little book of colour on the colour couch with founder and designer ry elliott

I met Ry back in April at YesColours’ 1st birthday party and we hit it off straight away, only to find out we lived not far from each other.  Now I have to admit I didn’t know who Ry was despite everyone being excited to meet him. I guess that’s one way to get caught out not watching BBC Interior Design Masters (hosted by Alan Carr), where Ry was a Series 4 contestant. However that didn’t stop Ry jumping at the chance to share his love of colour with you. Over to Ry…

What is your earliest colour memory?

My earliest colour memory would be when I was about seven years old. I wanted to redecorate my room, I decided to paint it lime green and I was so excited, all over the walls and it was so zesty and fun I loved it. For some reason in our family we’re always redecorating so it wasn’t lime green for long.

What does colour mean to you?

Colour for me means expression, it means evoking feelings and emotions, something for your eyes to enjoy. It’s almost like an identity, everyone having their own unique colour code which they are drawn to some more than others and so I feel like it’s quite a personal relationship between you and the colours that you love.

Do you have a favourite colour or a colour that you find yourself constantly drawn to? And why?

Green, it’s always been green. I think it’s due to my love of nature. I enjoy the outdoors, the earths natural beauty and there’s something about green which is just so soothing and grounding. There’s something quite nurturing about green, it’s uplifting, but also seems to help me focus when I’m working.

Do you have a colour you least like? And why?

It would have to be red, which is funny because on the colour wheel it is the opposite of green. I feel like in the world it’s drilled into us from a young age that red is a colour to warn us of hazards or signs to say stop. It’s a very harsh, abrupt loud colour so I feel like red is probably my least favourite for those reasons.

What do you love most about working with colour?

I think I love the versatility of colour, and there are an abundance of combinations and pairings of colours that you can use within an interior to really change the space altogether. You can use colour to zone an area, you can use colour to create dimension and architecture where there is none.

As I mentioned before it creates a mood, an atmosphere, a feeling which is why I really enjoy working with it, no two colours are the same, you could change the hue, undertone or saturation slightly, and create a completely different vibe for the space, it’s magical.

What do you think your life would be like without colour? 

It would be quite interesting, I feel like you would then focus more on the form and shape of your surroundings rather than just what colour they were. I’m a positive person so I wouldn’t let that stop me from still being an interior designer!

What’s your favourite colour story?

My dad is a painter and decorator so my parents were always decorating the house. It was one weekend my parents decided to paint the dining room, but instead of buying paint like you do, my dad decided to mix up his own colour! Having a lot of paint left over from various clients he’s had over the years he started to mix some tins together, creating a rather peachy meets salmon colour.

Definitely an interesting one but a memory that always stuck with me. I guess you could call that sustainable too. Only problem was when it came to touching it up as he used it all up. Dad was unable to remix the same colour.

Were you ever afraid or wary of colour? And what did you do to overcome this?

Yes, I think personally I’m drawn towards more muted tones because that’s just my preferred colour palette. However, louder, more saturated, zestier colours tend to scare me a little bit not gonna lie. It wasn’t until I got older and became a bit more adventurous where I started experimenting with punchier colours.

I would begin by painting small pieces of furniture to introduce them slowly into the room or I would maybe just do one feature wall with colour rather than plastering it everywhere and then from there it kind of just grew more and more. Now I’m confident in just being a bit more bolder and dramatic with colour choices, but still staying true to how it makes me feel.

Do you have a favourite colourful place that you visit or have visited?

Yes! It’s only around once a year though and that’s Decorex! I went last year for the first time and it was so inspiring. Of course some great designs but also so much colour everywhere! All these various brands showing off their big ideas with their own colour stories. Truly spectacular.

If you could pick any colour and give it a name, what would that be?

Currently looking at my Satin Pothos plant, at the beautiful variegated leaves.. I would probably call this Living Green. It’s not bold or muted. Its just a wholesome green.

For anyone afraid of colour what would your number one piece of advice be?

Start small, as I mentioned before even if it’s just painting a piece of furniture or one wall at a time, you can slowly start to integrate colour into your interiors. It doesn’t have to be a bold colour. It could be something quite soft and muted and then if you really want to work your way up to something a bit more saturated and dramatic then just increase the area that you want to cover.

Alternatively you could just go for it and paint the whole room in colour. You may surprise yourself and love it!

Which colourful person do you most admire and would love me to interview for the On the Colour Couch series?

Iris Apfel! I feel like she would have some amazing stories and experiences with colour, both in interiors and fashion! She’s an Icon!

Having a father who was a painter and decorator, well, experimenting with colour was in the blood! And Ry raises an interesting point, we’re conditioned to see red as a warning sign, danger, beware, even poisonous. This is definitely one of the many ways red is used in the natural world and that we have adopted.

Oh to have Iris Apfel on the Colour Couch, now that would be something very special. Ry, I’m working on it!

If you would like to discover more about Ry Elliott, head over to his Instagram @ryelliott.

Wishing you a colourful day,

Also on Series 4 Interior Design Masters was Joanne Hardcastle whose Colour Couch interview you can read over here.

YesColours co-founder Emma Bestley’s Colour Couch interview is over here.

You can find out more about Decorex over here.

BBC Interior Design Masters is over here.

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