Colour is one of the key elements of interior design: colour choices affect mood and atmosphere, and reflect tastes, identities and changing fashions. Our series looks at different colours in interior decor: what they mean, how to incorporate them into your home, and how to use them in relation to lighting.
Here’s Pooky’s guide to green.
Colour theories in interior design and lighting: black
Colour theories in interior design and lighting: white
Colour theories in interior design and lighting: red
Colour theories in interior design and lighting: blue
Colour trends may come and go but, with its association with the natural world and peace and harmony, green has never really gone out of fashion.
Interior Design Masters 2022 contestant Banjo Beale described his revamp of 21 Soho as ‘green on green on green’ and his bold approach won the competition. But designing and decorating with green requires a certain degree of confidence. So we’ve been looking at some memorable green interiors to inspire and encourage you, from solid blocks of colour to light touch features and accessories.
We have, of course, included some rather lovely green lighting inspiration too.
Introducing green – verdigris, celadon and Beryl
Despite being the most common colour on earth, for centuries it proved notoriously difficult to create a true green pigment. But we have the Romans to thank for coming up with a solution: by soaking copper plates in wine, they produced verdigris. And two millennia later, verdigris is still a popular design choice:
Another early arrival on the green scene was celadon, beloved of empire rulers of the Far East. Celadon or greenware, as it came to be known, refers to a specific type of blue/green-glazed pottery and porcelain; it’s a European term but celadon originated in China, where it was highly prized by the imperial court—an early example of the aristocratic love of green. Over time, production spread to Japan and Korea.
Thirteenth-century Longquan celadons, from Zhejiang, China, exhibited at the Musée Guimet, Paris. Image: creative commons
Given the high desirability of green glaze amongst the aristocratic classes, it’s interesting that when the utility tableware range, Woods Ware, was launched during the Second World War, its most popular colour was Beryl, a light mint green.
Beryl’s simple, unfussy lines and affordability ensured that the range continued to be sold long after the war. Beryl turned up in cafés and tea rooms, country houses and village halls, at cricket teas and on dinner tables across the land and, with the continuing popularity of retro chic and all things vintage, Beryl remains popular today.
Woods Ware utility tableware in Beryl green. Image credit.
The Green Dining Room at Catherine Palace. Image: Creative commons
In England, across Europe, Russia and eventually the USA, grand green interiors became associated with the aristocracy and gentry. Above is the neo-classical Green Dining Room of the Catherine Palace, at Tsarskoye Selo, named after Catherine I, who ruled Russia for two years after the death of her husband Peter the Great. Completed in 1756, the Green Dining Room decoration was the work of the Scottish architect, Charles Cameron, who was known for his love of classical symmetry and superb colour choices.
Perhaps the most familiar ‘green rooms’ are the the actors’ waiting rooms in theatres and television studios, supposedly painted green because it is a calming colour. Often these are decidedly modest and not particularly green, but in some venues they are absolutely spectacular:
Salón Verde, the green room at the Teatro Real opera house, Madrid, Spain. Image: Creative commons
(Incidentally, the green in ‘green room’’ actually refers to youth… In its earliest versions it was where understudies – ‘green’ or immature actors – would wait for their chance to step onto the stage.)
Glamorous green bathrooms
Bathroom, Palacio Baburizza, Valparaiso, Chile, 1916. Image: Creative commons
At various periods green has been the colour choice for luxurious bathrooms, perhaps because of its association with nature and freshness. There’s the grandeur of green marble, as in the Chilean palace above, or the the Jazz Age sophistication of this Art Deco hotel restroom, which featured lime green and black leaded glass tiles and green hand basins:
Men’s restroom, Heritage Hotel, Nashville, Tennessee. Image: Peter Burka via Creative commons
As for the adage that “blue and green should never be seen”, this eye-catching historic bathroom is a fine riposte. The original building, a crumbling 16th century monastery, was transformed by American art collector, Robert Brady, in the 1960s.
The green bathroom, Robert Brady museum, Cuernavaca, Mexico. Image: creative commons
Using green in your interior design
You can use shades of green for different effects in your interior design schemes. Here are four tips...
1) Use soft greens in bedrooms
Soft greens, the greens of nature, are restful and calming and said to promote good sleep, so they make a good choice for bedrooms.
Bedroom, Jim Thompson Museum, Bangkok, Thailand. Image: creative commons
2) Combine greens and exposed timber
Green works well with wood (and not just on trees). This bed linen brings lightness and freshness into a dark wood-panelled bedroom in the former home of American architect Jim Thompson above illustrates.
3) Use subtle green touches in a neutral scheme
A little foliage and a green accessory or two in in a neutral interior creates a lovely calm feel:
4) Use greens as a backdrop for a bold colour palette
Green can be a punchy alternative to a neutral as the main colour in a room - acting as the backdrop to bold secondary and tertiary colour pops. This fabulous room by Greg Penn shows how…
Photo: Greg Penn (@Manwithahammer)
Naturally, lighting is a great way to bring colour into your interior schemes – from fabric lampshades to ceramic table lamps.
There are hundreds of green lampshade styles, sizes and materials to choose from so shades are a perfect way to set just the green tone you want in a room. You can bring in a rich, verdant Arts & Crafts feel with something like this:
Green table lamps
Or for a striking green sculpture, there’s the Whinny table lamp, based on ancient Mesopotamia’s highly stylized horse head motifs. It’s cast in translucent green resin. Put Whinny near a window and watch the light shine through…
Green pendant lights
We also have some fabulous green pendant lights, with dozens of variations to choose from. Eider is one of our favourites; it’s a delicate flower shape, made of recycled green glass. Add a Pooky filament light bulb and gaze in wonder…