Although the phrase trompe-l’œil has its origin in the Baroque period, when perspective illusionism was at its height –
a fabulous this example of this being painted by Andrea Pozzo in 1703 on a low vaulted church ceiling to give it the impression of an awe inspiring domed ceiling, the use of trompe-l’œil dates back much further. It was and still is often used in murals with fine examples of this being found in ruins from Greek and Roman times such as in Pompeii.
A typical trompe-l’œil mural might depict a window, door, or hallway, intended to suggest a larger room. This art form is still used today particularly by stage set designers and requires a keen eye for perspective as well as a large helping of imagination.
In our own small way in our home decor, the clever use of colours even if it is just the window treatment, will alter the dimensions of a room, light cool colours such as blues and greens make an area feel light and spacious whereas dark warm colours such as browns and reds make a room feel cosy and intimate.
The horizontal slats of a venetian blind will give width to a window
and the vertical slats of a vertical blind will give height to a window.
The same principal applies to curtain fabrics, wallpapers, upholstery and rugs, so check the overall design of the pattern to ensure that the detail is influenced in the same direction or in the direction you are trying to emphasize or it will become a muddle.
Colours are highly personal so while you may wish to steer away conventional colours, they have been time honoured and tested – a dab of colour from a pot of tester paint is a completely different story to a whole room. If in doubt just paint a feature wall in your chosen colour and see what the reaction from the rest of the household is like before you steam ahead with the whole room.
We are more inclined to be happy on a sunny day and more likely to be sad on a dull day, so bear this in mind also when you are choosing the colours for your scheme and this is every bit as important when choosing new blinds or curtains as it is for a complete redesign of a room.
If you are decorating a whole house from scratch, then use the hallways and landing as a transitional buffer zone, leading you from one colour to the next. Keeping the same colour flooring throughout will also help to allow a free flowing feeling throughout the house.
Windows with a special view will also need careful consideration. Views of the sea for instance will be stunning on a bright summer’s day and can take the visual impact of a modern decor based perhaps on silver and steel, but the windows will definitely need a touch of warmth for the winter or on a dismal dreary summer’s day as the sea and sky can also quickly also become cold and uninviting.
There are plenty of colours that are adaptable and can go “cool” or “warm” just by being punctuated by a cool or warm colour.
One of the most successful combinations in my opinion and is one that I often use is silver and steel. It is basically a grey decor where a strong red or blue for example, used with extreme care with just perhaps a splash of the feature colour in a blind and accessorised with a few relevant coloured cushions scattered about and a piece of artwork with a highlight of the main colouring.
Grey colours or indeed non colours are the current stand-in for creams and will give a spacious feel with a touch of interest to even the smallest of interiors.
In this digital era it is so easy to “capture the moment” and have it framed professionally by your local picture framing shop for what is usually the same price as a standard picture in a retail shop.
When dressing a show home, I usually visit the local framing shop and ask if they can recommend a local photographer who may have some images that can be mounted to add some relevance to the decor. My current favourite is in a show home I have just finished which has fabulous views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight which is where this photo was taken by Sally Armstrong.
Even the most avid couch potato could not help but be inspired by images such as this decorating their living room walls.