Since my husband is one of 6 Irish brothers, we have often been back to the Emerald Isle since we moved to the States to attend weddings, or spend Christmas with family.
This June, we visited for the wedding of his second youngest brother. We were blessed with a week of possibly the best weather I've ever known in Ireland. It was sunny and beautiful the entire trip (though the downpours began the day after we left!)
I often think of Ireland as somewhat grey - probably because I've spent a lot of time in a city surrounded by large, Georgian architecture (which I do love), in somewhat gloomy weather. But if you head out to any small Western town in the countryside, and particularly those closer to the sea, the most beautiful colours will appear.
First, amongst the vibrant greens of the trees and fields, you'll see wildflowers in every colour gracing the hedgerows and bushes alongside the narrow, winding roads. Then at the sea shore, there will be soft, creamy sand, the blue of the Atlantic ocean and sky, and in the distant hills, deep, lush greens.
In the towns and villages, each terraced home is painted a different colour. And the colours picked are a definite reflection of the vibrant folks who live in them. I think when it rains fairly often, it's important to make your surroundings as happy as possible to counter it!
It's easy to forget in HOA-beholden suburban USA, that homes don't have to be 'builder's tan with off-white trim'. Especially here in the desert, where we are surrounded by brown and red, and most homes are a variation on 'earth-coloured'. In these bright, cheery houses, the owners don't pay much attention to whether the colour 'co-ordinates' with their neighbours house - but the eclectic result is perfect, and so much better than the dull repetition you get when committees decide a variety of 'acceptable' house colours for a neighbourhood and everyone just picks from the same palette.
This house had a blue paint so vibrant and shiny, it almost looked laquered. It looked marvellous with the brightest yellow door!
Aside from the happy, vibrant houses, the colours that appeal to my heart most in Ireland are those found for free in the countryside. I was particularly taken with this rock on the Conor Pass in the Dingle Peninsula. The moss and lichen growing there over hundreds of years have given it a special mix of soothing, neutral greys, blues, creams browns and soft lilacs, which set against the deep green grass around it are something really special.
In home design, many people are afraid of colour. They worry about mixing too many colours together, or try to stick to a 'safe' palette and repeat the same patterns. This can be beautiful too - repetition is a staple in design for a good reason - the eye craves it, and humans naturally look for patterns wherever we go.
I love to mix up colours and patterns in my designs in certain parts of my clients homes. For living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, playrooms - these eclectic palettes bring joy and life into the space, and allow for a great variety of collected art and personal items by the homeowner throughout the years, without throwing off the design.
However, I typically strive for a visually soothing palette when designing a sanctuary, like a bedroom or bathroom. Keeping colours serene, and using small amounts of colour as highlights (like those wildflowers growing among the hedgerows) allows for maximum rest and relaxation.
What colours do you love? If you're looking for colour inspiration, have a look back through photos of the places you've been, where you felt most joyful and connected. Whether it's in the markets of Morocco, the mountains in Colorado, the blue of the Carribean Sea or the green rolling hills of the Peak District, use those colours in your home to recreate the memories and feelings you experienced in your special places.