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New collection: The Garden

Elizabeth Ockford Lady Penrose Wallpaper

As our lives slowed down last year, we felt very fortunate to be outside as spring turned to summer and we immersed ourselves in watercolour painting and botanical drawing… Fairly effortlessly, the idea behind our new collection – The Garden – started to grow.

The Garden is a collection of hand-drawn wallpaper designs which explore blooming flowers – from cheerful pansies to exotic orchids – as well as the array of insects typically found in the garden. A love for colour is evident throughout this collection – experimenting with an array of hues to achieve different results.

Here’s an insight into three of our new wallpaper designs from The Garden collection…

Our Cleo design features tiny bugs, beetles, dragonflies and butterflies and was inspired by the precision of entomological studies of insects in pen and ink. Elizabeth opted for a simple two-tone effect – setting delicate linear rows of insects against a contrasting hue.

“In the studio I simply wanted to enjoy drawing the insects. The result is a charming and very
useable wallpaper which takes on a different quality and mood depending on the
chosen colourway.”

Elizabeth chose names based on strong women of historical importance – she was inspired by Cleopatra’s iconic status as a powerful Egyptian queen and femme fatale.

  • Teal – pure emerald green on taupe
  • Sky blue – warm ginger on pale baby blue
  • Fresh green – grass green printed on a cream ground
  • Marine blue – cornflower on a yellow-cream ground
  • Noir – white print on charcoal ground
  • Indigo – an inky ground with vibrant pink print
  • Fuchsia – hot pink ground with deep blue print
  • Ochre – a golden yellow ground with red/pink design

Elizabeth started with delicate botanical illustrations of flowers, seed pods and fruits, before adding in some butterflies and setting them amongst tonal ‘ghost’ outlines of other plants.

Marianne North was a prolific Victorian biologist and botanical artist. North travelled the world in the 1870s and 1880s, making detailed illustrations of the plants she observed in exotic locations. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew opened an exhibition of her work in 1880, and the North Gallery remains open to this day.

“Not only do I love the boldness and brilliance of colour in North’s oil paintings, I’m fascinated by the idea of a woman – in a corset and long skirt – journeying up the Amazon to discover and meticulously document native plants.”

  • Botany – fresh green, cornflower blue and rosy red on off-white
  • Noir – green against a black ground, reminiscent of an enchanted garden at night
  • Lavender – soft mauve and mint, for a pretty vintage effect
  • Sky blue – a fresh pale blue ground with blooms picked out in cream and pastel shades

This design began as a series of ornate swooping butterflies in jewel colours. Elizabeth opted to have them flitting over a tonal ground, with the classic floral and acanthus leaf motif of a softly faded damask.

Lady Penrose – widely known as Lee Miller – was an American fashion model, photographer, photojournalist and World War II correspondent.

“I’m intrigued by the facets of Miller’s life. She was fearless in her war-time reportage – documenting concentration camps and capturing rural poverty – but she was also a muse and collaborator of Surrealist artist, Man Ray. My favourite picture of her is in Hitler’s bath – it’s iconic, audacious and provocative.”

  • Dark blue – a denim tone overlaid by a stone design
  • Sky blue – pale blue against a white and stone ground
  • Pink – a soft rose on white
  • Taupe – a stone ground with lighter floral print
  • Ochre – a sunny yellow ground with lighter floral print

As with The Islands, interior designers can access our entire new collection via a compact style box which includes A4 samples of all designs. To order The Garden as a style box, please email Enquiries@elizabethockford.com

We hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into the new collection – we’ll be introducing more of The Garden in a future article…

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Forecast: 2021 Interior Design Trends

cover image for blog
interior design trends 2021

With a fresh new year ahead of us, we’ve curated our predictions of what will be trending in the world of home design and interiors in 2021.

a homely lifestyle

As a consequence of spending a lot more time at home during lockdown, the quirky and wholesome #cottagecore movement gained huge traction on social media and we’re certain that it will continue to be on trend in 2021.

As well as baking, crafting, and gardening there’s been a noticeable swing towards the comfort of ‘grandma chic’ and the appeal of romanticised traditional décor. In addition, #cottagecore also reflects a more conscientious consumer – a move towards sustainability and away from ‘fast fashion’.

How? Celebrate the faded elegance of one-off vintage finds – nostalgic touches of velvet and antique ‘brown furniture’ – and pair with muted pastels, pretty ditsy patterns and handcrafted macramé pieces.

embracing nature

After a challenging year and long cold winter, we’re already looking forward to the renewed hope and freshness that we associate with spring – what could be more optimistic than warmer temperatures, lighter days, and vivid green buds?

How? As its name suggests, our soon-to-launch wallpaper collection, The Garden is a series of delightful designs that were inspired by the beauty of flora and fauna and the idea of ‘bringing the outside, in’.

Harnessing the fluidity of watercolour, as well as a tighter botanical drawing style, we have explored the freshness of an English country garden and exotic blooms of hothouse orchids.

vibrant and bold colour

The popularity of entirely neutral interior schemes is finally on the wane. Again, we believe this is linked to spending more time at home and wanting to stamp some personality on walls, furniture – wherever!

How? A vivid wallcovering – especially in a living room, dining room or hallway – is a great way to achieve this look. Check out three of our most vibrant and best-selling designs:

design trends 2021

As we all long to escape to distant shores, many trend forecasters have predicted that this will translate into interiors inspired by coastal get-aways.

How? Our collection, The Islands, offers a series of contemporary wallpaper designs featuring whales, shells, lobsters and tropical birds to evoke a sense of dreamy relaxation in a beachside hideaway.

cosy textures

With self-care and mindfulness as lifestyle buzzwords of 2020, this follows into home décor and many elements of the pared-back but snug Scandi and Hygge aesthetics will remain popular into 2021.

How? The soft and earthy textures and tones of natural materials – from cane, linen and rattan to jute, wool and leather – have a much-needed soothing and grounding effect. We recommend adding subtle texture to walls with a semi-plain linen-effect wallcovering, such as our Lucia design.

tranquil interiors

As our homes have come to represent a place of sanctuary, our attention turns to making our spaces feel like serene retreats.

How? Our latest range, Horizon was inspired by the mesmerising fluctuations in light and gives a wonderfully dreamy graduated finish to walls. The light blue and ink shades are especially calming and reflect Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year – Aegean Teal.

pantone's color of the year

We’ve dedicated an entire blog to Pantone’s 2021 Colors of the Year but it’s worth mentioning that the colour experts have also unveiled a palette exploration – inspiration for various ways to deploy Ultimate Gray and Illuminating – from the clear brights of Aviary or Enlightenment to the subdued tones of Sun and Shadow.

Pantone colour of the year 2021
Image: Pantone

We hope our predictions for 2021 interior design trends have inspired you to refresh your home – if you’re considering updating your interior with one of our beautiful luxury wallpapers then please contact us for advice as we’d love to help you.
enquiries@elizabethockford.com

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Pantone Colour of the Year 2021

pantone color of the year 2021
title

Pantone Color of the Year 2021 announced – and it’s a pair of colours! This week we were surprised to see Pantone announce – not just one, but – two hues as Color of the Year 2021…

pantone colour of the year 2021
Image: Pantone

Experts at the Pantone Color Institute have chosen 17-5104 ‘Ultimate Gray’ and 13-0647 ‘Illuminating’ for 2021, declaring that they are a marriage of colour conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting.”

Bold, bright, and uplifting, Illuminating is a cheerful yellow that is reminiscent of a child’s drawing of the sun or the visual zing of zesty lemons. By contrast, Ultimate Gray is steady and calm – resembling pebbles or sturdy urban concrete landscapes – and has a more timeless and resilient connotation.

After the tumultuous events of 2020, it’s no surprise that the experts at Pantone weren’t able to settle on just one colour to represent the year ahead. A Pantone representative reflected:

“It became apparent that there was never going to be one colour that could express everything that needed to be expressed — that it was, instead, critical to have two independent colours that could come together.”

In choosing the contrasting hues – sunshine yellow anchored by a steely grey – Pantone were not simply ‘hedging their bets’. They have chosen a pair of colours that reflect the world as we have come to know it: a juxtaposition of hope and despair; light and heavy; bright and subdued; dynamic and inert; fresh and enduring.

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, commented:

“The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity s upported by fortitude. Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a colour combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted; this is essential to the human spirit.”

opinion on pantone 2021

The announcement has been met with a mixed response. On social media, many have objected to the colours, likening them to hi-vis safety clothing, industrial cement and road markings, and the grey sweat pants of lockdown (!).

However, Vogue referred to the combination as “a chic colour duo for 2021, guaranteed to have a positive effect on your mind and wardrobe”. Pantone has justified the selection by stating that the colours are “conjoining deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the optimistic promise of a sunshine filled day.”

how to use pantone colour of the year 2021

The experts at Pantone have created five colour exploration palettes that showcase Ultimate Gray and Illuminating to illustrate their versatility – we especially like the mood evoked by Sun and Shadow, with dramatic Blue Nights and earthy Wild Ginger and Oil Green.

pantone color of the year 2021 sun and shadow palette
Image: Pantone

We’ve been looking through some of our previous collections and have used a softer combination of these two hues in several of our designs.

Check out our collection of grey and yellow wallpapers on our website here.

elizabeth ockford wallpapers to match pantone color of the year 2021

If you would like any more advice on interiors or have any general enquiries then please don’t hesitate to contact us! enquiries@elizabethockford.com

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Colour theory: immersing ourselves in green

W-01013 Kitts fish wallpaper in the colourway aqua

Whether vibrant or subtle, we’re passionate about colour: how it makes us feel, its role in our designs, and how we use it in our homes.

Studies show us that colour can alter our brain waves, affect the autonomic nervous system and our hormonal activity, and can stimulate our emotions: we react physiologically and psychologically to colour.

From dazzling lime and vivid emerald to muted olive and moss; to delicate celadon, peppermint and eucalyptus through calming sage and aquamarine to deep teal and forest green – we love green in all its iterations.

Green is synonymous with nature and the natural world – it is the colour of grass, trees, woodland. An environment containing plenty of green vegetation indicates fertile land and the presence of water – little danger of drought or famine – so green is considered to be reassuring on a primitive level. These lingering associations with nature mean that green can make us feel grounded, tranquil, fresh and healthy.

green-woodland
english-countryside

Being in the centre of the colour spectrum, most shades of green require no visual adjustment and therefore, this is deemed restful. Green is also said to be soothing, uplifting and healing – in the presence of green, the pituitary gland is stimulated, muscles become relaxed, and blood histamine levels increase (decreasing allergy symptoms). In short, green is calming, stress-relieving, and also invigorating – researchers have found that green can improve reading ability and creativity.

For centuries, artists searched for a stable and truly green pigment – it was a notoriously difficult colour to manufacture from available natural substances. Egyptians used earth or malachite before the ancient Romans developed verdigris – a process where copper plates were soaked in wine or vinegar, causing a vivid blue-green surface residue to form – which they used as a pigment in mosaics, frescos and in stained glass. Subsequently pigments such as cobalt green, emerald green and viridian were developed in the late 18th century by heating and combining certain chemicals.

green verdigris

Green features in many of our designs – here’s a few examples of its use and explanations for our choices:

green wallpapers on the elizabeth ockford website

Our Pearl River design features a deep emerald ground with large circular Eastern-inspired illustrations. In this context, the green chosen as the background provides a calm coolness while also matching the strength of the saturated colours of the illustrations, allowing the eye to scan the design in its entirety.

The use of muted aqua and olive for the linear design on a neutral linen ground gives a ‘heritage’ feel to our Coleton design. It’s very classical and would work beautifully in many locations including a conservatory or orangery, where there’s a transition between being indoors and out.

We chose a soft aqua as a ground for a host of vividly coloured fish as this gentle shade allows the bright shoal to ‘pop’.

Inspired by crystalline structures, the small coordinate design of Pyrite is enhanced by the use of a precious jewel-like emerald green with touches of shimmering raised gold metallic ink.

Although the overall design isn’t dominated by green, we love the energy and fizz created by the use of lime, aqua and jade on the lobsters in this version of Aruba. As well as using different green shades, we’ve played brights – hot pink, coral and turquoise – against softer lavender and olive to create a zing against the grainy black linen background.

If you would like any more advice on interiors or have any general enquiries then please don’t hesitate to contact us! enquiries@elizabethockford.com
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Interior inspiration: Choosing wallpaper for a period property

wallpaper for a period property

From quaint beamy cottages to the high ceilings and ornate mouldings of Victorian houses, we’re drawn to the unique character and distinctive features found within period properties.

And while it’s good to work with your property’s features – showcasing them, rather than glossing over them with your décor – it is entirely possible to stay true to your personal design aesthetic. 

Here’s our guide to choosing just the right wallpaper to suit your period home and interior style… 

Enduring motifs, such as organic or geometric forms – especially in elegant neutral tones – will showcase your property’s period features without jarring or feeling too dated.

Nutley – in luxurious shades of cream and metallic taupe, the interlacing Elder tree leaves and blossoms offer a contemporary take on patterns such as William Morris’s ‘Willow’.

Kemptown – a pleasing white geometric line over a textured greige grasscloth paper.

Coleton – a striking large trellis design with a strong Art Deco influence.

If you’re keen to keep your décor and wallpaper aligned with the era of your home then opt for a traditional design. Clearly this depends on when your property was built, so we recommend carrying out some online research – such as this article on the wall coverings that were typically used in particular eras. 

For example, woven damask fabric can be dated back to the Middle Ages – initially featuring fruit and flowers before extending to monograms and scroll motifs based on stylised acanthus leaves and feathers. However, the distinctive pattern was only converted into wallpaper in the 1840s, when roller printing replaced hand printed techniques, and the Victorian era saw a boom in damask wall coverings.

Hurst Damask – featuring a metallic scroll motif printed on a highly textured ground, this wallpaper has a three dimensional hand-printed quality to it.

Lindfield – another classic damask pattern. 

Vita – with a textured surface and muted colour palette, this design has the appearance of traditionally printed wallpaper. 

Alternatively, give a gentle nod to your property’s original decorative style by incorporating a traditional colour palette or vintage motif – such as illustrations of fish, birds, insects and animals – within the wallpaper design.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, our bespoke design service enables you to commission a wallcovering from scratch. This might mean taking inspiration from our substantial archive or using a remnant of an original wallpaper as a starting point, before creating a new design in your chosen colour palette.

If you prefer a more modern and minimal look, it’s still possible to indulge your personal style while being sympathetic to your home’s features.

Morganite – another semi-plain wallcovering that injects subtle texture with its mix of raised inks, metallics and soft matt finishes. We think this would look fantastic in an airy Victorian property.

Whatever the era of your home, wallpaper can enhance character and add style to your walls. We hope our article has given you some ideas about using wallpaper in your period property but please email us if you’d like some more advice a Enquiries@elizabethockford.com

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Interior inspiration: Sophisticated geometrics and texture

Geometric wallpaper

If floral patterns, conversational designs and intricate prints just aren’t your style, then why not consider a geometric or textured wallpaper for your home? 

Far from being psychedelic and retro, modern geometric wallpaper designs can be used to create many different effects, injecting pattern and adding striking visual appeal to a space. 

Dependent on scale, finish and colour, textured wallcoverings can range from sophisticated and understated to bold and statement-making – the possibilities are limitless. 

Here are our recommendations for geometric wallcoverings and textured wallpapers that will make a stylish and contemporary addition to your home…

If angular patterns feel rather stark and linear, why not look at a softer iteration of geometric design?

Our Butia wallpaper is a contemporary geometric design, inspired by exotic woven silk and rendered in soft, shimmering gradients of colour on a pearlescent ground. The gentle grading of colour, from dark to light, in a vertical column is reminiscent of the folds of a heavy silk curtain.

The Butia design is available in four deliciously muted colourways, featuring palettes of plum and coral; black, cream and taupe; teal, indigo and sage; and greige with wine and burnt sienna. 

On a smaller scale from Butia, our Garnet design consists of a textured ground with fine horizontal threads of sparkling metallic ink weaving across its surface to resemble the sheen of woven silk material. 

Printed on a pearlescent ground, our semi-plain Lucia will add a subtle textured finish to your walls and gives the overall effect of raw silk or raffia material. During the design process, we were inspired by the walls of desert island huts and the luxurious billowing drapes on an exotic beach-side cabana, but the beauty of Lucia is that it is very versatile and can easily be paired with an array of other patterns.

Inspired by the metallic lustre and intricately repeating angular cube forms found in the mineral, pyrite (or ‘fool’s gold’), our Pyrite design is a small coordinate that adds texture and dimension to walls. The colour range features exotic and jewel-like hues of emerald and amethyst as well as more neutral shades of sandstone and larimar. Featuring a combination of metallics and soft raised inks, Pyrite works beautifully anywhere, from living rooms to bathrooms. 

Our Morganite and Quarry wallpaper designs combine softly raised inks with shimmering metallics and contrasting areas of matt texture to add an understated and almost industrial edge to interiors. Morganite mimics the sheen and patination of aged metals, in a largely neutral palette with accents of tarnished rust and muted green. In an array of light tones, Quarry gives the delicate effect of bare plaster or raw, unpolished stone and would add interest to an airy Scandi living room or minimal bedroom.  

To achieve a smart, elegant and timeless look in your home, a crisp linear pattern could be the answer. 

Inspired by Art Deco motifs with a modern twist, Coleton is a striking trellis design which has been traced in metallic and raised inks on a large scale to add to its drama. This design would work especially well in a formal living room, hallway or dining room. 

If you’re looking for something a little less dramatic, Kemptown offers a simple and clean geometric trail design in a palette of appealing neutrals which is contrasted with a textured grasscloth paper ground.  

A subtle repeating pattern in a tonal palette can add visual interest without demanding attention. 

Our Fontwell wallpaper features an elongated harlequin diamond design, with a lustrous surface and gently varied hues for a restful effect. Fontwell is available in tones of cream and stone; plum and mauve; aqua and sage; sandstone and slate grey; and amethyst, berry and navy.

Similarly, Bosham features diamond shapes – on a smaller scale and this time mimicking a stylised depiction of the refraction found within a cut gem stone – in a variety of serenely cool mid-tones. 

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Not all geometric designs feature crisp lines and sharp angles. Add softness to your interior scheme with a curved pattern, such as the repeating scallops of our Paxhill design.

Paxhill is available in a variety of shimmering hues, featuring scales of differing texture, patination and metallic qualities, which are soft and pretty for a bedroom, bathroom or living area.

Do you feel inspired by our geometric wallpaper and textured designs? For help and advice about any of our designs or collections, please email us on enquiries@elizabethockford.com

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Interior inspiration: Playing with colour

The artist Kandinsky said: “colour is a power which directly influences the soul” – and who could argue with that?

The colours you surround yourself with are, indeed, one of the most personal and transformative decisions you can make in your home.

Colour has the potential to influence the mood of a space – which is why it’s always a central part of our designs. That’s not to say that our designs are always bright or vibrantly hued, just that we embrace colour in all its forms.

Playing with a palette

Our most recent collection – The Islands – was inspired by exotic, far-flung destinations. The forms we used included whales, lobsters, seashells, coral and tropical birds and we created a series of textures and geometrics to accompany our more illustrative designs.

The colour palette for this collection began with fresh, cool and typically beachy hues of sea green, blue and golden yellow. We then started to experiment with adding…

W-01052-Bahama
Rich tones of wine and deep petrol blue...
Bahama - W-01052
W-01043-Aruba
Pops of pastel and bright neon...
Aruba - W-01043
W-01013-Kitts
Dazzling accents of coral and jade...
Kitts - W-01013
W-01092-Butia
and we expanded into more muted tones.
Butia - W-01092

Exploring the way colour changes our designs is always fascinating. Take Martinique, a design based on outsized anatomically-drawn seashells. When the design is rendered in charcoal tones it reads as formal, elegant and sophisticated, and would suit a minimally styled interior, whereas the classic blue and stone combination lends itself to a more airy, playfully nautical theme.

W-01023-Martinique
Martinique - W-01023
W-01025-Martinique
Martinique - W-01025

We also created several colour variations – ranging from light and bright to rich and dark – which completely alter the mood and effect created by our Kitts and Bahama designs.

W-01011-Kitts
Kitts - W-01011
W-01014-Kitts
Kitts - W-01014
W-01054-Bahama
Bahama - W-01054
W-01051-Bahama
Bahama - W-01051

If you’re drawn to a distinctive and colourful wallcovering, for example Bahama in stone/green (below), then you might opt to base your colour scheme around that. Here, the russet, silver, and emerald have pulled through into the furnishings: 

Bahama - W-01053

Don't fear colour: seek out inspiration...

Many of the most exciting, stylish, and aspirational interiors incorporate colour in a brave and creative way – but where to begin? We recommend composing an overarching colour scheme that pleases your eye and sparks the mood and feeling you’re looking to create – whether that’s cosy, airy, dramatic, lively, or relaxed.

One tip is to look for inspiration from those who have accomplished colour in a way that you enjoy and admire. The American modern painter Milton Avery is one of Elizabeth’s favourite artists. Avery used colour in a really exciting way – the paint has a luminosity and dynamism, where the dark offsets the light or clean and pure hues meet subdued or moody tones. These paintings are saturated with a depth of pigment and have an almost electric quality to them that is very pleasing. Avery’s colour combination in the painting below, for example – inky blue, dusky pink and mauve, crisp white and earthier sand and brown tones – could be reworked into the scheme for a room:

Milton Avery, Along the Coast

Pinterest is also a helpful resource for exploring colour inspiration – simply search for terms, such as ‘emerald green room’ for successful design ideas: 

Image credit: deardesigner
Pink and emerald interior shot
Image credit: Maggie Overby Studios
Emerald lounge
Image credit: Nicola Broughton
Emerald and pink interior room
Image credit: Living After Midnight

The website and Instagram account of Michelle Ogundehin – writer, TV presenter and former Editor-in-Chief at Elle Decoration UK – are also great references for finding colour inspiration – see how she has pulled together a tonal palette, inspired by this image:

Inspired colour palette
Image credit: Michelle Ogundehin

Look at colour trends...

We can’t help but be drawn into the buzz that surrounds both Dulux and Pantone’s colours of the year when they’re unveiled – it’s interesting to see the accompanying palettes and observe how these are received by the industry and public.

Pantone’s 2020 Color of the Year is 19-4052 Classic Blue – a richly bold and velvety hue that reminds us of deep oceans and the sky at dusk. Classic Blue is restful and reflective. It is timeless and reassuringly solid: a colour that’s altogether ‘bigger than us’.

On revealing Classic Blue in December 2019, Pantone describe the colour as “instilling calm, confidence, and connection, this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.”

Pantone Colour Palette Desert Twilight
Image credit: Pantone
Pantone Colour Palette Untraditional
Image credit: Pantone

Likewise, a fresh start and the colour of the sky also informed Dulux’s Colour of the Year for 2020. Sitting in the space between grey and celadon-green, Tranquil Dawn was inspired by the serenity of the morning sky. It’s a soft and ethereal hue – a versatile almost-neutral that adapts and shifts with the light and whatever other colours are used alongside it.

In fact, Dulux’s colour experts have explained that Tranquil Dawn “can be used to create spaces for care or for play, to find meaning or for creativity”

Dulux Colour Inspiration Tranquil Dawn
Image credit: Dulux
Dulux Colour inspiration tranquil dawn
Image credit: Dulux

Both institutions selected their shade for this year – the start of a new decade – with an optimism and an emphasis on a fresh start but who could have predicted what lay ahead for our planet?

And finally: ignore the colour 'rules'

Shouldn’t pair pink with red? Nonsense! We love this combination – in all its iterations – from pastel pink with crimson to dusky pink with deep ruby, and clashing hot fuchsia with raspberry red.

Blue and green should never be seen? This is a combination found in nature – how could it be wrong? With so many shades to choose from – from palest apple, vibrant verdigris or deep forest green; and ice through to ink –  the possible pairings are endless.

We believe it’s fine to break these outdated and general rules – you should enjoy the freedom to combine colours that spark delight.

We hope our article has inspired you to take the plunge with colour! For help and advice about any of our collections, please email us on enquiries@elizabethockford.com.

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Interior inspiration: How to use wallpaper in small spaces

There’s a bit of a myth that small rooms require plain, light wall coverings. However, wallpaper with a medium or large-repeat pattern adds a sense of depth that wasn’t there before, making walls appear more expansive and rooms feel more spacious.

Decorating a small room doesn’t mean that you need to restrain your decorative style and creative character. Even the smallest of spaces can be packed with personality if you opt to hang wallpaper…

It’s all in the application

Hanging wallpaper with a medium or large-repeat will create a cohesive look which will visually expand the sense of space:

  • Once you’ve committed to your chosen wallpaper, it’s best to avoid breaking up the space by painting some walls or using other patterns, as this can emphasise tight quarters and make the space feel even smaller.
  • In rooms with short wall runs – such as a cloakroom/downstairs loo – make sure you centralise the pattern. When the design is hung symmetrically, cropped equally on both sides, it makes a big difference to the way the eye ‘reads’ it.
Butia, W-01092, Black/White

Create a visual journey

If you’re decorating a hallway, staircase or landing then lean into your limited space with a decisively bold print. Wallpaper with a meandering pattern, such as Kitts, will lead the eye and create a feeling of movement in a connecting space. In narrower areas, pattern adds visual interest without encroaching on precious square footage.

Kitts, W-01011, Cream

Go all out: be bold and fabulous!

Dressing rooms, en suites and powder rooms provide the perfect opportunity to be fancy or playful and indulge a theme.

Initially it might feel counterintuitive to use a busy pattern, but it often makes a small space feel more luxurious, dramatic and special compared to using simple, solid colour on the walls.

Let your creativity run free by choosing a wallpaper with a large or opulent print to provide the perfect backdrop for a stylish mirror and lighting – something like Bahama lends itself well to this sort of space.

Faroe, W-01062, Dark Blue
Bahama, W-01054, Cream/Red

Add subtle texture to a multifunctional space

In a box room – which might function as a home office and a guest bedroom – add character and depth to walls with a timeless and versatile stripe. The cool, restful colour palette and sophisticated lines of Nevis are ideal for work and relaxation.

Nevis, W-01071, Ginger/Black

Paper a sloping ceiling

Decorating loft spaces that have been converted into rooms is notoriously tricky – often they feature asymmetrical or atypical architecture, such as the eaves, joists, chimney breasts, skylights and sloping roofs.

A delicately patterned wallpaper print can help make this space feel more fluid and cohesive. Something like our Montserrat design can be used throughout the space and all the way up onto a sloped ceiling, highlighting and framing skylights. 

Montserrat, W-01103, Multi
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Interior inspiration: What inspires us…

Before we start designing a new wallpaper collection, we normally sit down and talk about a mood, a theme, and maybe a colour palette. We might bring along a piece of inspiration – a scrap of fabric, a postcard, or something torn from a magazine. We then create a mood board for our studio wall which becomes our reference point – it usually grows and develops as we go along.

As for our overarching creative inspiration, many things – from music and film, to artists, locations, historical eras, fashion and found objects – shape our aesthetic…

Elizabeth reflects on her creative influences

“Browsing in vintage shops and antique markets is one of life’s little joys – I seek out pieces of treasure and imagine where these items have been before they were in my possession. I’m drawn to anything that’s shiny, bright and vivid – colour and metallics always catch my eye. Over the years, I’ve amassed a collection of decorative objects, textiles, jewellery, furniture, books and imagery that I often reference in my wallpaper designs. I love to extract from a cherished piece of vintage art or design from my archive, then use modern techniques to create something that’s completely unique and unexpected. Some of the designs from our latest collection, The Islands, were inspired by antique prints and illustrations from my archive – in particular, Faroe and Kitts.

Milton Avery’s Meadows and Mountains, 1946

Milton Avery is one of my all-time favourite painters – the freedom of his marks, the stylised forms, and the luminosity of the colours he used are endlessly compelling – soft and yet vibrant at the same time. Recently I’ve been enjoying the works of Dame Elizabeth Blackadder – for her delicate botanical pieces – and Mary Fedden – delightful naïve still life paintings, flooded with colour.

“Still on a colour theme, the Italian fashion house and homeware brand La DoubleJ also inspires me. JJ Martin’s rather fabulous maximalist designs feature geometric, kaleidoscopic patterns and sassy florals – she’s resurrected vintage prints that had previously been archived and used a palette that’s saturated with luscious, eye-popping colour.

 “In the world of interiors, I’ve recently discovered Calico Wallpaper. The New York husband and wife team have re-appropriated traditional techniques and combined them with modern digital technology to create themed collections of wall coverings. Fusing handmade art with digital enlargement and print creates these wonderful custom-made murals which bring texture, colour and pattern to living spaces – they’re beautifully atmospheric. 

Fragments – hand-painted with raw pigments and minerals
Microcosmos – bubble prints, seen through a microscope

“Another new find is Newton Paisley – a textiles and wallpaper brand. At first glance you’ll see gorgeous intricate depictions of nature, in a spectrum of rich and vibrant colours, but each design showcases neglected or endangered species and sales of fabric contribute to the preservation of wild habitat through World Land Trust – ethics in line with our own commitment to sustainability.   

Madidi Clouds – featuring the endangered Andean spectacled bear – along with toucans, frogs and hummingbirds – in the cloud forest of Bolivia

“I also follow the interiors writer, broadcaster, and influencer, Michelle Ogundehin. Michelle used to be the editor of Elle Decoration and she’s just released a book – ‘Happy Inside – how to harness the power of home for health and happiness’ which explores the link between our homes and wellbeing – this is something I’m really interested in. Michelle has some fantastic Instagram stories about using bold, rich colour combinations with all sorts of texture, from antique mirror to anaglypta, in her home. I love how playful and bold she is with colour and texture – although it’s varied, it just works so well together.

“Retro and fashion-oriented TV shows and films are really inspiring me at the moment. I love the styling of Killing Eve – the assassin Villanelle’s diverse wardrobe features Dries Van Noten, The Vampire’s Wife gowns, gothic Alexander McQueen couture and frothy Molly Goddard tulle. The costume design for Spike Lee’s movie, BlacKkKlansman also caught my eye. It’s all about 70s style with prints, earthy tones, metallics and exaggerated wide collars. And I’m loving the 80s resurgence and how it’s being referenced in current design – our Bahama wallpaper captures that opulent ‘more is more’ character of Versace’s flamboyant silk shirts and scarves.

Lauren, our senior designer, shares her inspirations

“I don’t usually go looking for inspiration – it often finds me, unexpectedly!

“I was out in the garden recently and noticed the blossoming apple tree. Just seeing it made me want to get straight to my desk and draw the delicate pale pink petals and closed buds which contrasted with the slightly gnarly branches. I’ve always been inspired by flowers – especially spring blossoms and the more sculptural magnolia blooms. 

“Like many people, music puts me into a really good, happy place and makes me want to be creative. I lose myself in rock music – my favourite band is Enter Shikari, an electronic-based rock band – but I also love 70s rock. 

“Nature and the seasons are a constant source of inspiration for me. Walking my dog means exposure to the ever-changing scenery, all year round. We’ve been taking Baxter to Friston Forest, along the South Downs, and found a hidden gem of a vantage point where you can see for miles and miles. Eventually I’d love to create a design based around the sweeping views – at this stage I’m not sure how literal it would be, it might end up being something quite abstract.

“Films with a strong identity, like The Great Gatsby, also spark my creative side. The fusion of style, costume, set, soundtrack – and mood they evoke – really inspires me. I’d love to do a collection based around an iconic film, where I’ll sit and watch the film and pull together a set of designs.” 

We hope our article has given you an insight into what inspires us – and how this filters through into our design style.

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Showcase: A bespoke project

As well as designing our own collections we also accept commissions, creating bespoke wallpaper designs for our trade clients’ commercial and residential projects.

In addition, we can digitally modify designs from our newer collections – for example, tweaking a colour palette or removing certain details – to meet the specific needs of a client’s brief.

The client

We were approached by Jacqui Smith of HomeSmiths Interior Design. Trained in Applied Colour Psychology, Jacqui provides interior design services to a variety of clients including private residential clients and care home operators. Jacqui invited us to work with her on a project for a prestigious new care home in Henley-on-Thames. 

The vision

Jacqui’s vision for Henley Manor was to design a series of distinctive zones – using wallcoverings that are appropriate for residents who might be be living with sensory and/or cognitive decline – to create a homely and inviting space. 

The outcome

We created a bespoke wallpaper design – a palm stripe – especially for the care home. Elizabeth hand-painted the palm design in our studio and we then digitally repeated the motif. The subtle colour palette and vertical forms are elegant and soothing on the eye – ideal for a social area.

Jacqui asked us to adapt one of our existing designs – Baxter, a dainty botanical style in a fresh colour palette –  in order to make it more appropriate for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s. We removed the copy and shadowing from the original design (shown on the left), giving the botanical illustrations a plain light background which instantly make it simpler to look at. 

We also designed this light and airy wallpaper especially for the project. Inspired by New England clapboard houses, the simple and timeless design adds subtle texture and character to the walls and works really well with the neutral décor in this area of the property.

A glowing testimonial...

"We commissioned Elizabeth and her team for the design and supply of wall coverings at Hallmark Care Homes’ luxury home in Henley-on-Thames. From initial ideas to seeing the paper on the wall, the process was incredibly easy. Elizabeth grasped the brief straight away, providing beautiful large format samples and options, perfectly meeting the client’s timescale expectations. Whilst Elizabeth produced a new design for us for this project, we also asked her to recolour and adapt some of her existing designs. This enabled us to produce a truly bespoke scheme for our client, one which has received many positive comments. We fully intend to work with Elizabeth again."
Jacqui Smith
HomeSmiths Interior Design