On the Colour Couch with journalist and author Kate Watson-Smyth

Little Book Of Colour On The Colour Couch With Kate Watson Smyth

I first met Kate back in 2015 when she emailed me asking if she could interview me for her book, Shades of Grey (not that one, the interior one) on the psychology of grey. Well, we all know how well that book turned out and the rise of grey. When I contacted Kate to see if she would like to be part of my On The Colour Couch series last year it was around the time she had painted out the last wall of grey in her home so I’d say this interview was perfect timing. Here Kate shares her life long journey with colour and how her favourite colour is always changing…

What is your earliest colour memory?

When I was about four we lived in Surrey and we had a gardener called Sid. I remember him taking me across the road to see his wife Amy who was sitting in an armchair in their cottage, which had low beamed ceilings, and she said to me: “What a pretty frock you’re wearing.” And I remember that the “frock” (I have never forgotten that she used that word) was in shades of green flowers, sleeveless with white bric-a-brac up the front.

What does that colour mean to you?

I have always loved green but have only recently come round to wearing it or including it in my house. In my house I have a dark foresty green in my bathroom and bedroom and in my wardrobe it’s more of a dark olive.

What does colour mean to me generally? I’m not sure how to answer that. It’s more than just a shade of paint. It can reflect a mood, change a mood and bring about a mood. Different colours in different rooms will do different things. I don’t tend to listen to music as I find it distracting when I’m writing but I think that looking at colours – either in magazines or even on large paint swatches – can change my mood in the same way that other people do when they listen to music.

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

I think my favourite colour changes over time. I have tried to relate this to my life but I’m not sure it has always worked. I loved dark grey at the time I was writing my first book in 2015 and while many say it’s a draining colour I never found to be so at the time and it was the start of the blog and my career really taking off. That said, while I still love dark grey I find pale grey hard to be in now and am much more drawn to warmer colours like pale pink and burgundy.

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

I’m really not good at primrose yellow. No idea why, it sets my teeth on edge. I like ochre and old gold and the sort of “dirty yellows” but primroses and daffodils no thank you. I’d quite like YOU to tell ME why this is!!

What do you love most about working with colour?

Colour can change your mood and bring a room to life. I love that there are infinite varieties of the same shade and what is right for one is wrong for another so we can all create our own individual palettes that come from the same three primary colours, but that are all completely different according to what shade we use and how we put them together.

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

Black and white.

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

I’m not good with too many colours in one room. That makes me feel a little stressed and unrelaxed and I can feel my heart rate start to pick up. I like probably three base colours and maybe a few more that are in different tones or depths of those first three. I probably default to adding more texture rather than more colour.

Do you have a favourite colour place that you visit (or have visited)? [a publicly accessible place]

Earlier this year I visited El Fenn in Marrakech. It’s intensely saturated colour but because it tends to be tonal rather than lots of mixed shades I found it beautiful rather than stressful.

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

Well it feels like that can only be a vanity question so I’ll go with the dark green that Mylands paint made for my bathroom which is Mad About The Bathroom.

I’m also a huge fan of Simon Marsh at Colour Makes People Happy with his names like “Hair of Nan” and “This colour is fashionable now and for the next two years”, which is a sort of dark chocolate. Which is also the colour of my sitting room… now and definitely for the next two years.

For anyone afraid of colour what would your number 1 piece of advice be?

Start small and build up but do your research. It’s not enough that a colour is pleasing to your eye – you must also stop and check how it makes you feel. If it enlivens you is it the right colour for the bedroom, if it makes you feel calm and relaxed that might be perfect for the sitting room.

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

Well I would have to say my podcasting co-host Sophie Robinson, who is all about colour.

How lucky is Kate to create a paint colour, name it (which is one of my favourite things to do) and then use it in her home. That would have been so much fun. I’m a huge fan of Simon’s too. The names he gives his paints are very tongue in cheek. It’s been years since I was last there – must go back for a visit.

p.s. I have some ideas why Kate may not like primroses and daffodils. Kate, let’s chat…

Kate has a great podcast series The Great Indoors. If you would like to listen to Kate and Sophie Robinson discuss my book, The Little Book of Colour along with other books then listen to their podcast – http://thegreatindoors.libsyn.com/new-books-dolessharm-maximalism-v-minimalism.

If you would like to discover more about Kate’s colourful world, then head over to her Instagram @mad_about_the_house.

Wishing you a colourful day,

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