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Q&A with Interior Designer Heather Draper

The Calgary designer shares her expert advice on designing with bold colours.

Heather Draper is no wallflower when it comes to using colour in her interior designs. “In my house at Victoria I have a chair that’s upholstered in lime green, turquoise and white houndstooth. Even I was afraid when I first saw it in the room,” laughs Draper, “But because those colours flow through every element and every surface, it’s colourful but at the same time gentle and comforting.” She’s run her own boutique since opening in 2013—and worked at other high-end design shops in the decade before that—so she knows a thing or two about creating a personality and bringing life to a space. Though her shops specialize in high quality home décor, furniture and lighting, it’s Draper’s hand-sewn collection of drapery, bedding and cushion covers made from fabrics all over the world that have become her signature. Despite the recent snow storm that has shaken up Calgary’s apparent “early fall season,” we caught up with Draper in advance of her upcoming Calgary Home + Design Show talks September 18-21, to talk about colour to warm us up as the weather cools.

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WL: What colors can I incorporate into my home to make it more cozy for fall?

HD: We’re in love with teal right now. It’s really warm because it’s more on the blue side, rather than the purple or hunter green side. We also love love love a bright burnt orange—we have a silk in our collection that we call spice and it will absolutely run out in a time span of a week.

WL: As we move into fall, how can colors transition from one season to the next?

HD: I recommend that the palette be set within the house. A palette for me isn’t just grey and a splash of yellow; for me, it’s always two colors and then neutrals and tones that range from light to dark. It’s also all about texture. Maybe in the summer you have some white linen on your grey sofa, with maybe one bright pillow on there. For winter we would put away the white linen and put out orange silk instead. I would then love to add a fluffy mohair throw to have/get that really warm, cozy texture. A lot of the time we talk about changing colors for the season but it’s also about changing textures as well. The sheepskin rug from Ikea is a great purchase, instantly transforming a room into a warm place.

WL: Which colors don’t get enough love or have a bad rep?

HD: Pink. It’s really unfortunate because when people see pink they automatically think girly, but it can be feminine and chic. One of my absolute favourite colour combos from the dawn of my design career is pink with chocolate brown. It isn’t necessarily trendy right now, but nothing says Audrey Hepburn in a bathtub sofa more than pink and chocolate brown. Think Chanel and Audrey Hepburn when you think pink: straight lines, details, tres chic. No bubblegum!

WL: What color trends are we seeing going into fall?

HD:  For us, that teal/navy is going to be everywhere.

WL: What’s the biggest mistake people make with colour?

HD: I’m well known for using colour. The problem is that people get nervous with using it, so then they’ll just do one colourful moment in a room that’s completely neutral. It sticks out like a sore thumb, and it’s kind of offensive to the eye. But if you do the moment of colour in three different spots then your eye can be guided by the colour around the room and it doesn’t become jarring anymore.

WL: How can colors and patterns work together?

HD: There’s a couple ways I always phrase it, but I like to go with the rock band analogy. In a rock band you have the lead singer, the wicked guitarist, the bass player chilling in the back and then the drummer. Everyone’s working together to create something really great. So you kind of want your room to do that as well: either the print or the colour is the rock star, there can only be one. Our guitar player than has to be really awesome, like a woven rug with geometric shapes that’s either white or natural combined with the rock star colour. It’s all about colour layering, every layer getting subtler than the colour before it.

WL: What’s your favourite colour?

HD: I can’t choose just one! They rotate regularly. To me colors have sides, the green side of blue, blue on the yellow side, purple on the red side, orange on the yellow side and lime green. I hate yellow. I wont eat in a restaurant if it has yellow walls…or florescent lighting.

WL: If an individual wants a minimalist, simple look by using neutrals, what’s an easy way to incorporate a bit of colour without going overboard?

HD: If you want to have a neutral interior with moments of colour then it’s all about using colour in cheeky ways. Think of the jam of a door being painted neon. How cool is that? Layer neutrals with neutrals with small accents of colour. Another great, easy way to add some colour is art!

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WL: When is too much colour a bad thing?

HD: I love colour so I don’t think you can have too much colour, but I think it can be done poorly. It’s much harder to do a colourful space well than a neutral space. A lot of people get turned off by that and get nervous. Colors have to flow through every element and surface of the room.

WL: Is there a rule for how many different colors should be allowed in one room at a time?

HD: You should have a least two. Colors need friends. One should be brighter than the other; two of the same tone will fight with each other!

 

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