Both Brad and I are really into second hand finds. For me, it is part of my genetic code, I believe. My dad and I went adventuring all over the place with his metal detector when I was a kid, looking for bottle caps to add to my collection. The deal was sealed when we went on a family adventure with friends to Pickle Crow, where the old mine and bunk house community used to be. I don’t have the clearest recollection of the experience, but I do remember picking up old glass bottles and trinkets and thinking, “this used to belong to someone”. That stuck with me and from there on in, I found ways to re-use what could have been abandoned forever.
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When I look around my house right now here in Red Lake, I am surround by awesome second hand finds; blue glass mason jars, a beautiful dresser with fantastically winged wooden handles, a vintage red kitchen table with chrome legs, Polish birch bent wood chairs that came from an old hotel in Kenora….the list goes on.
Contributions to the Cause
So it is no surprise that when people are doing a purge of their home, often they will ask me if the item they are thinking of getting rid of is something I can use as either an artist, or in our building/renovating journey at the farm. Over the years I have gotten better at discerning between what will actually get used, and what’s just a big idea that I probably will never have time to get to.
When my friend Sarah asked if I wanted two cans of new paint that they never got to using, I said sure! After all, we’re in the process of painting walls at the bunkhouse. (BTW, if you want to see the process work that is going on with the bunkhouse at the farm, subscribe to my newsletter, where I share all of the details!)
She brought the cans of paint over and without looking, I asked what the colour was. Sarah said it was called “nettle”, a green colour. Perfect. I like green. This will work great. So, I got to the farm and started talking with Brad about how we were going to design the room, and by “we” I mean “me”. I am not one of those people that follow interior design trends. You won’t see me buying an interior design magazine, unless it’s Dwell magazine, because Dwell is like looking at an art book. (One of my friends passed along Dwell magazines to me many moons ago. I am sorry if you’re reading this….I can’t remember who it was, but the magazines made an impact! If it’s you; thank you!). But I do have a formula for designing a room which I will get to in a bit, and you’ll want to make sure to go to my resource library and check out the info about getting the exact colours you want for your interior design projects.
So, I cracked open the cans and kind of said, ohhhhhhh. I instantly thought of pea soup and was not sure of what I thought of the colour. On the one hand, I was grateful and really wanted to use this lovely gift that I was given. On the other hand, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be enclosed in walls of pea soup for years. Paint is a funny thing, though. What you see when you open up the can can be very different than what the paint looks like when a couple coats are put up on the wall. I want to give this paint the benefit of the doubt. And as is, there was something about that colour that tickled the back of my grey matter. That colour reminded me of something beyond a delicious bowl of Habitant pea soup and I just needed to connect the dots. It would come to me. I just needed to think for a while.
You would think that moment came when I was outside, looking at nettle in its natural habitat, right? Well, it didn’t. The a-ha moment came when I walked into my farm house livingroom and past the little painting I had done a couple months earlier of a row of fungus on a tree stump. The pea soup colour was in that painting! I knew it!
Post Secondary Flashbacks
On a side note, when I was in university taking an introductory design class with Alison Norlen at the University of Manitoba Fine Arts building, we would have to paint small little squares with acrylic paint, akin to paint chip samples that you get at the hardware store. Then we would pair up colours, one after another, over and over again, talking about colour and how colours shift and change, and vibrate off each other and melt into each other and get lost and re-invented. It was really tough for 19 year old me to handle that at 8am when the coffee had not kicked in yet and I had probably indulged in 25 cent draft night at Scandals a mere 7 hours earlier.
But something musta sunk in, because colour is my thing. You know how everyone has that one skill that they know they have….some are really good whistlers, some are really good at making an epic knot and then releasing it like magic with the utmost ease, some are great at learning 6 languages fluently, and me? I am really good at talking about colour. And if I am going to continue to toot my own horn here, I am pretty good at mixing colour intuitively (but my goodness, do not ask me to pronounce the names of paint colours. I dare you to say “phthalocyanine blue” or “dioxazine purple” 5 times fast). I guess that’s why I am an artist, but I have this thing where I kind of store colour in a catalog in my head, and I can pick out specific colours and match them to other things. I’m not just a 64 pack of crayons! 😉
Turning a “Hmmmm” into an “Oh yeah!”
So how am I going to work that colour into my room, you wonder? I am going to select related colours from that painting, and use it as accents for the whole room: browns, greens, oranges and yellows. It’s going to be a colour hunting frenzy, based on matching materials and patterns to the colours in that painting.
Will it work? Oh heck yes it will! You want to know why?
NATURE KNOWS COLOUR BEST!
Let me explain with a quick little colour theory lesson. In my opinion, there are three types of colour theories that work best in interior design. Using nature as your guide, you can really create some fantastic rooms!
MONOCHROMATIC COLOUR THEORY
The first type of colour theory taught in school is monochromatic theory. Mono means one and chromatic means colour. Students learn that when you add white to one colour, it gets lighter. When you add black to one colour, it gets darker.
Monochromatic colour theory is all around us, especially when walking through the forest. All you have to think about is the various types of green foliage that surrounds you to see monochromatic theory, from the dark green needles of a spruce tree to the to the bright green leaves on a raspberry bush. When you consider applying that to interior design, the possibilities are endless.
Maybe you’re thinking…uh…why would I want to surround myself in all green, or all blue? How boring is that!? But here me out! Using one colour for a room allows you to focus on different things like shades of that colour (remember…monochromatic is light and dark values of one colour) and allows for texture and pattern to become the focus.
On top of it, you can still accent with other colours, just make sure they’re neutral colours such as greys, browns, black and white. That way, you’re staying in the monochromatic family and allowing that one colour to be the center of attention.
I stumbled across this awesome post online that shows all kinds of different rooms that use monochromatic green as the colour du jour. Wow!
But perhaps that’s just a bit too blah for you. You like a room that has colour punch. I hear ya. I’m no wall flower when it comes to using colour in my home either. The next type of colour theory really allows for nature to continue to be your guide while bringing in colours that pack a punch! So let’s talk about complementary colour theory.
Complementary Colour Theory
Complementary colour theory is easy to remember because it’s connected to some celebrated holidays. Complementary colours are a pair of colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel and made up of one primary and one secondary colour.
So, the three sets of complementary colours are:
Yellow and Purple (Easter)
Blue and Orange (Halloween)
Red and green (Christmas)
But I like to explain complementary colour theory based on how nature displays those colours:
Yellow and purple are the first coloured flowers that are seen in the spring: buttercups and purple clover is an excellent duo that is seen around the farm all the time.
Blue and orange is easily seen when the sun is blazing a settling trail through the dusky sky.
And red and green is seen when the pincherries are hanging off the trees. Nature knows how to combine colours best when using complimentary colours.
Now start thinking about this in terms of interior decorating. You might be thinking, why on Earth would anyone want a red and green room? It would look like Christmas all the time! Well, I am here to assure you that I have had a red and green kitchen for over ten years now, and I’ve never had one person tell me that it looks too “Christmas-y” in here. It’s all in how you use those colours.
Pick a base with one colour and then carefully accent with the other.
My walls are a vintage green colour and I have red furniture, and then there’s lots of white, (that neutral colour I was mentioning earlier) to help cut back on the intensity of complementary colours. And although the green walls I have in my kitchen were not inspired by nature, (the colour was actually inspired by a clock I bought. I loved the colour so much that I had it colour matched) I am sure I could easily find this colour in nature.
Keep in mind, when using complementary colour theory, you can also use light and dark values of those colours, patterns and textures to break up the space and create a funky looking room. You would think that a purple and yellow room would be way over the top, but I deplore you to not walk through a field of buttercups and purple clover and not feel happy, am I right?
And check out this beautiful purple and yellow dining space. The purple is not too intense, and yellow is used to create focus, drawing people to the funky art work and small details such as vases and unique lighting. Again, a neutral colour, this time being brown, is used as a transition colour to ensure that it is not too overwhelming. Could you imagine, drinking a cup of my delicious purple clover tea blend in a purple room looking at a picture of buttercups! IT’S TOO MUCH TO HANDLE!
You can see more purple interior design by going to this link, because PURPLE! https://www.homestratosphere.com/purple-interior-design-ideas/
Analogous Colour Theory
Finally, the last type of colour theory that can be applied to interior design is analogous colour theory, and the one that I think best represents what we see in nature. Let me explain:
Analogous colour theory is based on neighbouring colours on the colour wheel, usually in sets of three. So, we can have three sets of analogous colours:
Red, orange, yellow
Orange, yellow, green,
Yellow, green, blue
Green, blue, purple
Blue, purple, red
Purple, red, orange
If we look back on my fungus painting, it is definitely using analogous colour theory: orange, yellow and green. Then there are neutral colours such as greys and browns in there as well.
Mother Nature uses analogous colour theory a lot in the sky. As we have all seen when the sun is setting, sometimes there is a colour gradation that happens that shows one colour shifting to the next and to the next and many times, it just happens to be analogous colour theory!
Because a third colour is being introduced, you would think that I would have to be careful with how I use shades of those colours and additional patterns with interior design, but surprisingly, it is ok. Because those colours are neighbours, they instantly create a sense of visual unity, so there isn’t any concern that it will not be a peaceful relaxing space. Head on over to Google and type in “analogous interior design” and you’ll see a plethora of examples.
Now, if I went and decided to do analogous with a pop of one opposing colour (say I use analogous yellow, orange and green and decided to add some purple in there), it would work, but it’s starting to get a bit too far away from colour theory, and that’s when we run into problems. The rules are created in art for a reason; they make things look good. But you know me, I break the rules…especially in art.
Putting These Theories To The Test
Lets explore the concept of using analogous colour theory and nature with a painting I created that was inspired by the magic of the night sky. (Oh hey, by the way, did you know that I have an online course on how to paint this galaxy painting? It’s step by step and super fun! No experience needed, my friends.)
Let’s say I am going to design my bedroom using the analogous colour theory of yellow, green, blue with usage of neutral white and black as well.
I have options of how I want to go about this, but I am going to start with my wall colour. I tend to like all of my walls to be one colour, instead of creating a focus wall of one colour. This allows more attention to be drawn to the items, textures and patterns in the room instead of the one wall. And even though I am not a stranger to colour, I really don’t want my bedroom to be bright yellow or green, because it’s my bedroom after all and I want to sleep and colour psychology is a thing, you know!
Then I can start coming up with ideas of how I want to adorn the rest of the space. I could shop directly from my Redbubble sight and decorate the room with items with this painting on it, but I think I will stick to just having the print up on the wall as an homage to the inspiration for the room. But perhaps a few throw pillows on the bed would look great. I am going to start rooting around and see what kind of items I could use to match the colours found in the painting:
Let’s take a look at what I have done here. Because the painting is quite textural, I want to have some solid blocks of colour behind it and around it.
The paint colour I chose was from Home Hardware’s Beauti-tone paint; C18-2-0654-4. It’s a beautiful muted turquoise which will soften the brightness of the painting.
I went with a solid green duvet cover with pillow shams to match one of the shades of green in the painting.
Then it’s time to add the tchotchkes and other fun trinkets that really make a room personalized; those pieces of pottery or souvenirs, family photos in bold frames, clocks, vases, and all the things that make your space your own.
The possibilities are truly endless. I could have decided to find paint chips of these colours and then pick all of the lightest shades of those colours to design my room. Or I could have gone the other way, and allowed my space to seem like it had been completely swallowed up by the night sky, and even added glow in the dark stars to the ceiling!
USE THIS FORMULA
Keep these thoughts in mind when you are creating a space for yourself using nature as your inspiration:
1.Take photos of your favourite outdoor spaces (check out my blog on ways to photograph nature for inspiration).
2. One you have taken those photos, look for a certain colour theory. Is it mainly monochromatic? Complementary? Analogous?
3. Head over to my resource library to learn how to extract colours so that you can truly bring the natural world into your home.
4. Start thinking about your base colour (your wall colour) and whether you want it to be lighter or darker.
5. Remember that you can use lighter and darker values of the main colours you pick.
6. Consider keeping your walls texture or pattern free. It’s easier to change the overall look of a room if you do not stencil or wallpaper your walls. Replacing a bedspread or piece of furniture can really change the appearance of a space. Stripping and replacing wallpaper is a pain in the arse.
7. Start hunting for different patterned and textured materials within your colour theory choices to create a unified space.
8. Personalize the space with your favourites so that it’s truly a place you feel right at home in.
Go Get Inspired!
When you start to bring the genuine beauty of the outdoors in, there really are endless ways that you can approach interior design. Mother Nature truly does all of the work for us. She is the artist, and we’re just extracting the colours she has given us and using them in tranformative ways.
And you know, this way of designing does not have to be JUST about being inspired by nature. Maybe you hate bugs and think fish are stinky. That’s cool. This formula for interior design can basically be applied to anything you are surrounded by. Maybe you are inspired by the colours in your ratatouille! Maybe its an abstract painting that you can’t stop staring at. Use that as your inspiration! Remember, I based my kitchen on the colour of a clock. I painted my bedroom based on one colour that was in my bedspread. Our whole basement, which is now The Milk Carton Studio, was inspired by DaVinci’s codex.
So I will end this by thanking Sarah, who gave me two cans of paint that I wasn’t too sure of, but ended up being very sure of. I am excited to share the final results with everyone. That will be in my resource library, so head on over to the subscribe area to be kept up to date with the changes that go on at The Farm.House.Studio. including the transformation of our new sleeping quarters.
And please, if you have done any interior design work with nature as your inspiration, I’d LOVE to see your photos! Now get out there and take photos of this beautiful, beautiful world so that you can surround yourself with it in the middle of the cold, cold winter!