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Designer’s notebook with Annie Sloan

British colour expert and paint effects guru Annie Sloan knows how to cook up a great room. In fact, the inventor of Chalk Paint and renown decorator has written an entire book on the matter called Room Recipes for Style and Colour.

The book is filled with sumptuous interiors from across Europe that are rich with daring colour and decor. Sloan whimsically deconstructs the elements that come together to create nine elegant, but livable styles including neo-classical, French elegance and (pictured here) bohemian. There’s nothing stark about Sloan’s photos; don’t be surprised to see wayward house plants; chipped cups, a kid’s coat. Sloan’s pictures are deliberately and delightfully alive, “I don‘t like these photographs where it doesn’t look like anybody lives there,” she says. “I certainly don’t live my life like that. I’m very inspired when I look at a place and I can see that it’s a real house.” When it comes to creating a bohemian look in your home, Sloan suggests you embrace the contrasts and clashes the style invites and just go for it. Things may get messy (not every clash is camera-ready) but what’s the worst that can happen? Too many flowers and too much colour? We think that’s a risk you can afford to take!


You can use a lot of deep colour, if you balance it with a lot of white. You may only notice the deep green wall, but look closely and you’ll see that the ceiling and surrounding walls are white.

Repetition of patterns or colours creates harmony 

There’s a flower motif repeated throughout the room and colour themes that recur in fabrics and accessories.


Don’t be afraid to mix up your tone. This surprisingly formal chandelier plays well in the casual room. The Swiss clock adds a touch of whimsy.

Wonderful decor needn’t be expensive. This room was done on a limited budget by joyfully combining colours and motifs the homeowner loved.

-by Annie Sloan