Designer Touch: Colour Confidence

topic of the articles

Jane Lockhart challenges the all-neutral palette when asked to decorate two model homes in Fergus, Ontario.

By Jane Lockhart

Photography By Larry Arnal

Adding colour to the main living spaces in your home can seem daunting, especially if you consider yourself colour-shy. But what are you afraid of? Colour helps express who we are, it represents our thoughts and taste, out loud. Being hesitant or unsure about adding colour at home is common, especially in Canada. We like to play it safe and not commit to something we fear may go out of style quickly or be open to criticism. But colour is something we can change frequently and inexpensively.

I’m not suggesting large expanses of bright wall colour—although that works well in a child’s room; no, it’s about bringing luscious hits (and hints) of colour into our main living spaces. The days of the all-white home? They’re over, especially in the kitchen. You may tell yourself to keep it white because of resell. But are you really going to sell?


When approached by the Sorbara Group to design two model homes in their Storybrook location in Fergus, Ontario, we knew we had a chance to tell a colourful story. Model homes are notoriously neutral, or monochromatic so potential buyers can project themselves into the space without thinking about decor. We looked at it as an opportunity to add personality through select colour palettes.


The first colour choice was for the floors. For The Belsyde, we chose dark wood, laid on a diagonal to be the foundation for a more dramatic design scheme. For The Watt, we chose a natural wood tone to run through the main floor.

Lighter floors brighten a space, so we brought in navy, beige, white and grey to balance the space. Neutrals aren’t too scary or bright and by using them together with colour, it makes a room feel rich and tasteful.


The statement piece in the living room, the blue velvet ‘60s-style Regency sofa was the catalyst for the main floor’s colour accent. Blue against a neutral backdrop animates the space as it continues through various rooms in the artwork and decor. Silver and white accessories add a glint of sheen and sparkle (but gold would work, too). Pillows in different prints use the deep blue as their base line and add their own note.

If walls and furnishings are light and neutral, colour can be added in artwork and accessories.

If you decide to go with colour on the walls, you don’t need to match it with furniture or accessories in the same colour— it’s one or the other, not both. In fact, you don’t have to duplicate the exact shade, there is room to explore other options.


I’m always happy to introduce some colour into a kitchen. While we still see a lot of white cabinetry, today we’re adding different colours like grey, soft green and mushroom colours in the lower cabinets and islands.

In The Belsyde family room we added pops of chartreuse, burgundy and white into an otherwise neutral setting. The white chairs were custom-upholstered to add pattern and interest. Chartreuse bolsters and anchors a lush cream-and-grey patterned bench, and coordinating pillows fill in the rest of the fabric colour scheme.


Decorative, framed mirrors and oversized floral art on canvas make a great artistic statement and can start your colour story. White and clear-glass accessories add dimension and white drapery features simple, classic coordinating trim. All serve to complement and heighten the colour palette.


The living room’s white sofa inspired drama, so we introduced black and touches of pink and burgundy inspired by the floral art. Nature is colourful and it’s always a great idea to bring nature-inspired colours into your home, just use it prudently. Black and white together (yes, both are colours!) provide contrast and give a space energy.

Contrast is a continuing theme in the kitchen, too. The wall of white cabinets is broken up with deep saddle wood-coloured cabinetry on the refrigerator wall and island. The lighting and artwork bring the black-and-white theme into the back of the house.

The main floor powder room is…wait for it… wallpapered! Yes, wallpaper is back in fashion and easier than ever to install. Go for colour, glam and drama, a small room can take it and show it off best. Art belongs on any wall, even in the powder room.


You and your home have a story to tell through the way you live in it, so tell that story in colour. If you’re still fearful, hire a designer to show you how to bring colour in and bring your home to life.


THE WATT HOME FLOORING: Laminate Torlys Havanna Oak Natural FURNISHINGS: KITCHEN: Paris Kitchens CABINETS: Mission in Decorator White and Mission Oak in Ashwood COUNTER: Caesarstone in Raw Concrete TABLE, CHAIRS: Canadel STOOLS: Sunpan LIGHTING: Union Lighting LIVING ROOM: SOFA: Arthur Sofa CHAIRS: Swivel Bernhardt Camino chairs CHESTS: Bernhardt “Adagio” COFFEE TABLE: Bernhardt “Napier” SIDE TABLES Bernhardt “Hayes” BENCH: Bernhardt “Ardmore” RUG: Nexus Strie in Deep Sea by Rosecore from Speers Road Broadloom ART: “Transferal”, Celadon DINING ROOM: TABLE & CONSOLE: Canadel CHAIRS: Sunpan LIGHTING: Union Lighting

THE BELSYDE HOME FLOORING: Marquee Floors Mountain Narrow Collection in castle FURNISHINGS: FAMILY ROOM: BENCH: Silva Clarise Settee CHAIRS: Clark COFFEE TABLE: Bernhardt “Morrison” SIDE TABLE: Bernhardt “Domain Blanc” SOFA: Cali MIRRORS: Renwil FLORAL ART ON CANVAS: Anemone Circa 1888, Celadon GOLD ART: Aureole Blush, Celadon STILL LIFE WITH PEONIES: Celadon LIVING ROOM: COFFEE TABLE, SIDE TABLES: Bernhardt “Morello” SOFA: Fiona CHAIR: Dean ART: Natural Baroque, from Celadon LIGHTING: Union Lighting KITCHEN: Paris Kitchens ISLAND: Saddlewood in Richmond Profile CABINETS: Dove White in Richmond Profile LIGHTING: Union Lighting POWDER ROOM: MIRROR: Renwil LIGHTING: Union Lighting VANITY: Decorating Details

Designer, spokesperson, author and television personality, Jane Lockhart is one of Canada’s best-known experts in the world of design and colour.