Summer Reading List: Pure Colour by Jane Cumberbatch

Summer is a time when the colours of nature are heightened, when muted and sombre winter and spring gives way to saturated shades that wake us up again. This invigorating mood is present in stylist Jane Cumberbatch’s new sourcebook of interiors ideas, Pure Colour. Designed to look a bit like a scrapbook, the publication takes the reader on a curated journey through the author’s chosen shades – blues, greens, white, yellows, pinks and neutrals. It’s not a straightforward collection of room interiors designed to be copied, though there are plenty of those. Instead, Jane highlights the corners and details of everyday life in a way that challenges you to consider new combinations and ideas for the home – a concept she has honed for some years on her lovely blog Pure Style. Here, she lets us flick through some of the pages of her new book and shares with us how she brought her ideas together in its pages…

yellow pink  The Chromologist

Pure Colour  Beautiful details  The chronologist

The book feels like a formal representation of how you might record ideas as a creative – is this how you approached the book?

“Yes, I was trying to achieve a scrap/notebook effect. It represents how I put together my visual and written thoughts for any project that I might be working on. The book, of course, is a more fully formed entity and a natural progression from my day to day work-in-progress files and notes.”

How did you choose your colour categories and narrow down the choices?

“I pared down the colour categories to the basics: reds, green, blues, and yellows and included whites and naturals because they are the colours which underpin many of my ideas.”



You often publish photos of nature on Instagram – have you always been so connected to nature?

“I’ve always been someone who kicks off their shoes in order to walk on the grass or paddle in the sea. My parents were very outdoorsy and enthused me with a love for country walks and closer to home, spending time in and creating a garden. My Caribbean roots have recently been confirmed and I’ve just returned from Barbados where I met long-lost cousins. It makes sense now that that the passion I have always had for heat, sky and sea blues is in the DNA of my Bajan heritage. My parents were also enthusiastic package holiday makers in the sixties and so I learnt to enjoy the pleasures of Mediterranean colours and textures from a young age.”



Where are your favourite places to travel for inspiration?

“I find enormous inspiration in Olhao, the small fishing town in the Portuguese Algarve, where I have a house. The intense sea and sky hues, the luminosity of parched red earth in olive groves, and the butter-yellow beachscape give me limitless visual direction and a counterpoint to northern views.”


What does home feel like to you? 

“It has to feel calm, comfortable and optimistic.”

When you were writing the book, did any of the projects you saw influence you creatively in your own home?

“After visiting Piers de Laszlo’s blue room in his Olhao house [above] I made up my mind that this summer I will experiment with cobalt blue pigment and limewash in my own home in Olhao. I also have a very strong and impractical desire to furnish my kitchen with beautiful natural coloured sand limestone flags like those in an off-the-beaten-track farmhouse in Puglia that I included in the book.”

How did you choose the homes that you featured in your book?

“I didn’t want to make a book about rigidly executed interior designed colour schemes. I wanted to show how anyone can juxtapose and contrast colours at home in simple and pleasing ways. I used my own house to show how an all white space can be clinical and dull unless it is contrasted with splashes of colour – fabrics in crisp blue stripes, perhaps to lift it out of sameness and monotony. I had great fun painting walls in rich pinks or yellows to show how very bold colour can be kept in check with contrasting colour details. I would have been very happy to keep my colour experiments, but in its role as a location house, I had to paint the walls back to white. I also sought out owners of houses where colour is used in an exuberant and bold way, such as Artist Antonia Williams, who has create a lush courtyard garden with dramatic red detail [below].”

IMG_0076Antoina Williams’ home – she chose a red that reminded her of a fifties’ Max Factor lipstick

 How often do you change your own home? 

“I don’t so much change, but make small updates. Last year though, I made a new bathroom up in the attic.”

Do you have a favourite colour?

“Difficult. It depends on my mood. Am I allowed my three favourites? Fuschia pink, cobalt blue, bean green.”

A hated colour?

“I like wearing it, but wouldn’t ever consider painting a room black or furnishing it with black accessories.”

Do you have any particularly strong colour memories that you  hark back to in life or work?

“Hot beach colours of golden sand , blue sea and skies are enduring visual touchstones, whether it was the Costa Brava beach of childhood or a summer holiday with young children at Studland Bay Dorset. (yes, sometimes it was hot there).”



Pure Colour by Jane Cumberbatch is published by Pavilion.



Jill Macnair


Jill Macnair has worked as an interiors journalist for 13 years, contributing to titles including Elle Decoration, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. She set up cult interiors blog My Friend’s House in 2009 with Ros Anderson and continues to run the forum daily.

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