This Artist’s Incredibly Colorful Rental Will Inspire You To Add Color to Yours

published Jul 14, 2020

This Artist’s Incredibly Colorful Rental Will Inspire You To Add Color to Yours

published Jul 14, 2020
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Name: Anna Jacobs and her two children, 13-year-old Zachary and 10-year-old Coco Rose, as well as their 11-month-old puppy, Duffy.
Location: UK
Size: 3-bedroom flat
Years lived in: 18 months, renting

Anna Jacobs has more than earned her moniker, “The Colour Doctor.” She’s taught about color at the Chelsea College of Arts, she’s done speaking gigs as a color expert, and perhaps most of all, her homewares line she started in 2015 is an explosion of bold hues on everything from pillows, bed linens, lampshades, wallpaper, and more. The rental home she shares with her two kids is an energetic playground of inspiring color and pattern.

Credit: Anna Jacobs

“I think the MOST important thing is to work out how you want to FEEL in the room you’re decorating and then work out which colors make YOU feel like that,” she writes when asked to reveal her biggest color secrets. “Color affects us in so many different ways for so many different reasons, often without us realizing, that getting the right color for YOU PERSONALLY is very important.”

Credit: Anna Jacobs

Inspiring others to use more color is a big part of her popular Instagram account, where she regularly shares snippets of the unique ways in which she’s added color to her home. On July 1, she created another way to spread color inspiration: She launched a new color hashtag, #colourfiedhomes, with seven other colorful Instagramers. “We set it up because we all receive lots of question from people about how we have created our own colorful homes,” she says. “So this account and hashtag is to give people lots of ideas and to inspire others to have confidence in using color to transform the feel of their homes.”

Credit: Coco Rose

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: My style is fresh, creative, and full of vibrant color that makes us happy.

Inspiration: A major inspiration for me is Charleston Farmhouse, which was the country home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and a creative home for The Bloomsbury Group. They hand painted everything, decorating it in their own artistic style. I love that idea of a home bursting with creativity, a wonderful personal expression of your soul!

Credit: Anna Jacobs

Favorite Home Element: To be honest, my favorite parts are the murals I painted in the bathroom (zig zags), loo (leaves), and stairs (blue/ abstract), because they were real labors of love and each one tells a story of a particular time.

I had a vision of the zig zags almost as soon as I moved in⁠—I’d been captivated by the idea of having colorful chevron tiles in a bathroom for around 15 years, but being a rental I couldn’t do that here. I also LOVE Missoni zig zags, so this was my perfect opportunity to combine two loves. However, I didn’t get round to actually painting them until six months ago.

Credit: Anna Jacobs

The staircase mural was actually the first radical thing I did in the flat and was inspired by the artwork of the fabulous artist, Linnea Andersson. It felt so liberating to just go for it in a neglected part of the property, but it’s now the central feature that pulls together the whole thing!

The loo was my Covid-19 lockdown project. I now call it my Lockdown Loo! It took hours and hours and days and days to painstakingly paint the whole thing freehand, but it was a fantastic way to stay creative and be focused on something positive while we couldn’t go out.

Credit: Anna Jacobs

Biggest Challenge: My biggest challenge is the simple fact that I’m renting, because it means I can’t do anything structural to the property and everything I do has to be reversible at minimum cost. However, limitations can also be liberating, because it means you have to be more creative!

Proudest DIY: Well actually, it’s probably the blue stair risers on the staircase! They look very simple, but because we’re in a rental it took me ages to work out how to get them the exact blue I wanted, without ruining the stripped wood, which meant I couldn’t paint them.

Credit: Anna Jacobs

I spent weeks, just thinking, researching, and theorizing! Then I discovered self-adhesive stair risers, but none were the right color or size. I also wanted to mimic the texture of the wood, so that they actually looked painted, rather than stuck on.

So in the end, I found a plain roll of self-adhesive removable vinyl wallpaper, which had a 3d wood texture embossed on it. I then measured each riser and cut each piece roughly to size and then painted them. As I stuck each one on, I used a scalpel to cut round the edges to make them fit perfectly. I’m thrilled with the end result, because it  transforms the staircase and makes it a complete picture with the blue mural on the wall!

Credit: Anna Jacobs

Biggest Indulgence: Without question, faux plants and flowers! Yet, although they’re an indulgence they ultimately still cost 10 times less than repeatedly getting real flowers. The thing is, I absolutely love plants and flowers, because they are a wonderful way of bringing color, shape, and texture into a home⁠—as well as a bit of restorative nature of course. But the real ones have this annoying habit of eventually dying! So, I always decorate with faux and occasionally supplement with real ones, if I’m feeling flush!

What’s your best home secret or advice? Using outdoor rugs inside! In my last rental flat, my kitchen had a really cheap horrible plastic floor, so I covered it in this little pink patterned plastic mat I found in a local shop and it transformed it! BUT it didn’t last very long. Now, outdoor rugs have come such a long way that they can look and feel like an ordinary rug, but because they are completely synthetic, they are made stain resistant, sometimes water repellent, and very hardy, so will last much longer. They are absolutely perfect if you have kids or pets, or are just very clumsy! I now have one in the kitchen, one in my bedroom, and one in my teenage son’s (where frankly, it’s essential!). If I’d discovered them earlier, I’d probably have had one in my living room, too.

Credit: Anna Jacobs

What do people most get wrong about using color in their home? Either not keeping a tight enough palette, or choosing a color that’s trendy, rather than one that makes them feel good.

What are the biggest tricks/secrets to using color in decor? I think the MOST important thing is to work out how you want to FEEL in the room you’re decorating and then work out which colors make YOU feel like that. Color affects us in so many different ways for so many different reasons, often without us realizing, that getting the right color for YOU PERSONALLY is very important.

Credit: Anna Jacobs

Then you need to identify the direction of the daylight source in your room, because that will affect the color temperature and the amount of light coming in. That, together with  the feel you want to evoke, will then give you the starting point for the types of colors you choose. So for example, in the Western hemisphere, a room with a north-facing window in it will have a colder, bluer light and it will generally be darker. So, if you want that room to feel warm and welcoming, you will want to counteract that blue, darker light with warm pinks, oranges, and yellows in your decorating.

Once you’ve chosen the colors that you think will work, paint testers on small strips of wallpaper lining paper and tape them up one at a time on the walls you plan to paint and then live with them for a few days, so that you can see how the color works in different lights and at different times of day⁠—and also whether you really like it them!

Favorite wall paint color of all time: I think it’s actually “Deep Water Green” by Paint and Paper Library. This is the color I have in my room and my son’s room and is a repeated highlight color throughout the house.


Credit: Anna Jacobs


  • Main Bedroom walls —  Paint & Paper Library “Deep Water Green
  • Main Bedroom wardrobe — Dulux “Marine Splash
  • Main Bedroom bedside tables — Little Greene Paint Company “Canton
  • Main Bedroom desk — Little Greene Paint Company “Sage & Onions”
  • Kitchen cupboards and window surround — Dulux “Marine Splash
  • Kitchen Green wall — Little Greene Paint Company “Sage & Onions
  • Hallway walls and architraves — Mylands “Floris
  • Bathroom Plain pink walls — Dulux “Sweet Nougat
  • Bathroom Zig Zag mural — Multiple colors
  • Living Room Pale blue walls and ceiling — Fired Earth “Duck Egg
  • Living Room Royal blue wall — Little Greene Paint Company “Smalt
  • Living Room Large coffee table — Little Greene Paint Company “Sage & Onions
  • Living Room Small coffee table — Mylands “Floris
  • Staircase risers and mural — Little Greene Paint Company “Smalt
  • Boy’s room walls — Paint & Paper Library “Deep Water Green
Credit: Anna Jacobs


Credit: Anna Jacobs


Credit: Anna Jacobs


  • Table — Free with apartment
  • Chairs — Habitat
  • Cupboard handles — Amazon
  • Blue glass pendant shades — IKEA
  • Rug — Wayfair, discontinued outdoor rug (this is similar)
Credit: Anna Jacobs


Credit: Anna Jacobs


Credit: Anna Jacobs


Thanks Anna!

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 Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly said her home is 3000 square feet. We’ve updated it to be more accurate—hopefully, we can blame it on Mercury retrograde.