The Colours of the Regency

Last week, I had painters in sprucing up my kitchen, the master bathroom and the hall. I chose relatively quiet colors for the latter two. Pale blue for the bathroom to match the adjoining bedroom, a color I find very restful. A warm, slightly caramel cream for the halls, because I think a neutral color gives the eyes a resting place in between more colorful rooms. (My kids’ rooms are very colorful.)

I got bold with the kitchen. When we first bought the house, the walls were covered in a hideous 70s avocado green textured wallpaper that didn’t suit our Colonial style house. We got rid of that but then my husband and I couldn’t agree on what to do next. I found a botanical border that went well with the Portmeirion china we’d bought at the seconds shop in England and I wanted to paint the walls green, with stripes. Having been raised in a home that was all neutrals, I really wanted to try some color but my husband balked at so much green. We ended up using the border but leaving the walls white. It looked bland from the start and got worse over time. I do NOT recommend painting a kitchen white if you are a messy cook or have kids! Anyway, this summer I finally got my way and I’m very pleased with the result.

Although white was very popular for clothing during the Regency, it was very rare for it to be used on walls. As it turns out, people during the Regency weren’t afraid of color either.

One of my favorite books on Regency décor, Regency Style by Steven Parissien has a chapter on “Colours and Coverings”. He writes that “In spite of the increasingly large number of colours available, however, one colour was predominant in the principal interiors of Regency Britain: red.” D. R. Hay, in his Laws of Harmonious Colouring wrote that ”a proper tint of crimson is the richest and most splendid colour for the walls of a room”. It was often used for dining rooms and was also considered “the best ground for pictures”. Here’s the famous red dining room designed by Sir John Soane.

Green was also popular and much used in drawing rooms and libraries. Here’s a room I like very much: the Morning Room at Pickford’s House, a late Georgian house in Derby.

Bedrooms were supposed to be “light, clearing and cheerful” and were often blue, so my pale blue bedroom is very much in the Regency spirit. I also like the bedchamber below, from  Royal Crescent No.1 in Bath.

According to Parissien, yellow was controversial although it was sometimes used. ‘Drab’ colors (more subtle shadings of green, gold and brown) were also popular. Now, those sound like 70s colors to me!

So how about you? What are your favorite Regency colors or interiors? Which colors do you like best for decorating? Have you experimented with color, and how did it turn out?


About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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