Bold colour brings contemporary interior to life

Ask the Expert How can I introduce colour, in both subtle and more dramatic ways: in decoration, furniture and furnishings?

Choose bright colours for textiles, accessories and the occasional piece of furniture to brighten up your home in a contemporary way.
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I'd like to brighten up my flat and make it look and feel more interesting, primarily with colour, which I know is having a comeback in interior design trends, as minimalism retreats. How can I introduce colour, in both subtle and more dramatic ways: in decoration, furniture and furnishings?

Colours have definitely made a comeback for 2009 - and not just colour, but bold colours. At IDdesign, we have not one but four distinct interior themes this year following what we've called Urban, Global, Up-Nordic and Deluxe patterns - and all four themes include bright shades such as purple, red, bronze, yellow, black and orange among others.

I think you want to introduce a strong visual impact so our Global line is going to be best for this. A good rule to follow is to keep big items in classic styles and neutral shades and employ colours in accessories, textiles and the occasional piece of furniture. Start by experimenting with mixing colours and fabrics: contrast different styles and textures and include accessories in wood and ceramic against ethnic-style fabrics in colour-rich patterns for a modern and eclectic feel.

In the bedroom you could have a low-rise bed with a big headboard - big headboards are back in style - with matching low-rise side tables, all in black (try the Sono wenge veneer collection). Using a neutral shade like this enables you to use colour freely in the rest of the room: try a chest of drawers with the drawer-fronts in a red gloss finish (from the Tundra collection for instance) accompanied by an armchair covered in red fabric and a red-hued rug or carpet. You can carry on adding side pieces or accessories for the bed, side-tables and drawers - from candles to vases - but stick with your two selected colours to keep the bold look without cluttering up the overall feel.

In the living room it's fun to be adventurous. You can give character and personality to contemporary furniture in a simple, classic design, when combining it with artefacts from around the world and interesting accessories. I'd suggest a soft and comfortable fabric-covered sofa, upholstered in a bright shade such as pink (try the Milano sofa in Siena fabric). Team this with plain, mauve wool-felt cushions and a green carpet. To keep the room feeling uncluttered and the attention focused on the colour, the centre table should be simple and ideally just transparent clear glass (such as the Buen coffee table). Don't overuse the bold shades of purple and green for the remaining larger furniture pieces: the most complementary addition would be a simple piece in antique or antique-effect wood.

If you want to pursue a more futuristic feel, you could include something like our contemporary Cell easy-chair in black aluminium; smaller accessories like vases and lampshades can be picked in either fibreglass or ceramic textures but, again, sticking to purple, green or black shades. For the dining room you can carry on being bold and adventurous or follow a more subtle style by using simply and elegantly designed, polished pieces that you can offset with contrasting accessories. If you have a spacious dining area, a large antique or antique-effect oak dining table accompanied by oak shelves and stools would be your central pieces of furniture, and again, their neutral shades and classic shape and style enable you to be more outré in your choice of accessories.

Add a splash with a purple armchair (such as our Capo style) covered in a deep lilac fabric with a brushed steel base - steel bases are a big trend right now - and for accessories, use lighter shades such as orange, or black and white, to brighten the overall look. Our UFO pendant lamp would be the perfectly quirky and colourful accessory to hang over your dining table. All of this will give your apartment an ultra-modern appearance that's exciting but comfortable, and not intimidating to either yourself or your visitors.

Emily Davies was speaking to Heliya Alavi, an interior designer with IDdesign.