Kit Kemp's space-enhancing bold color rule will change how you decorate for good

In an exclusive interview with H&G, the designer shared the secret behind a balanced scheme – and how it will elevate your space instantly

House in Barbados with a turquoise ceiling
(Image credit: Kit Kemp Design Studio)

Interior designer Kit Kemp's name is synonymous with color. Drawing influences from all corners of the world, her decorating palette spans from Barbados-inspired turquoise to rusty oranges of New York City. However, despite her use of abundant color, Kit's schemes are far from overwhelming. Instead, her room color ideas remain perfectly balanced and always surprising. 

But what is the secret behind her sumptuous schemes? In conversation with H&G, the Founder and Creative Director of Firmdale Hotels (opens in new tab) and Kit Kemp Design Studio (opens in new tab) sat down alongside Massachusetts-based designer Annie Selke (opens in new tab) for a masterclass in color. And her color balancing rule was at the top of the agenda.

Kit Kemp's rule for a curated color scheme

Grey paint and yellow sofa surrounding a multi-colored rug

(Image credit: Kit Kemp Design Studio)

According to Kit Kemp, the key to using a strong color is to let it breathe. This means you assess the space around the bold hue and see how it works alongside other colors. How does it reflect against the other tones in your space? 

'You will use a sort of strength of detail in your palette. But you have to let it breathe,' Kit says. 

When experimenting with kitchen, bedroom, or living room color ideas, it's important to use vibrant colors in doses – and using subtler tones (like gray and white) will allow these spaces to breathe. This ensures your room does not feel overwhelming. However, the designer urges us not to forget strong color in small spaces too. 

'The in-between spaces are very important,' she says. 'The spaces when you open the cupboard door, your landings, and staircases. If you can think about those, your house or your space is twice as big because it’s a memorable space that you’re going through.'

Colorful artworks with a bright rug and yellow roof

(Image credit: Kit Kemp Design Studio)

So, if you're adding a strong hue to a corner of your entryway color ideas – or a bold tone in a nook on your landing – Kit's rule remains the same as every other space: 'Remember, there must always be something that makes you want to take a deep breath before you go into something else,' she says. 'In between, just give yourself a bit of a break.'

House in Barbados with a turquoise ceiling

(Image credit: Kit Kemp Design Studio)

Similarly, when it comes to paint ideas, Annie Selke adds that every color is influential – even those that she calls 'no color colors'. 

'They’re technically an ugly color, but they offset other colors. It’s almost like a foil for other colors,' she says. These colors allow the strong hues to stand as a focal point – while allowing room to breathe. 'The unsung heroes that make the other colors look good are important,' she says. 

'I also think that color can be a surprise in places that you aren’t expecting it. If you open a bar [for example] and inside is a wonderful color in a small dose, like a jolt of happiness. You’re not dealing with it all the time; it’s just these moments.'

More information about the Kit Kemp Collection (opens in new tab) for Annie Selke is available online. 

Megan Slack
Megan Slack

Megan is the News and Trends Editor at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes. As the News Editor, she often focuses on emerging microtrends, sleep and wellbeing stories, and celebrity-focused pieces. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.