Understanding Color with Rockett St. George



Extraordinary Interiors In Colour 

My guest today is one half of the partnership behind Rockett St George, which is a fanciful interiors shop that has a home in Liberty's of London as well as an extensive inventory online.  Jane Rockett (on the left), along with Lucy St George, have taken their passion for all things home and written two great books on "Extraordinary Interiors," the newest one being all about color.  In this conversation, Jane explains the two ingredients that make up color confidence: one is understanding how the color wheel works, and the other is understanding color theory rules so that you can break them intentionally if needed, to be true to yourself. 



Color Wheel Basics

Use the wheel to build confidence so that you can copy OR break the rules, depending on the feeling you're trying to evoke.  Below are the basic color schemes mentioned in the book, "Extraordinary Interiors In Colour" by Jane Rockett & Lucy St. George.

Complimentary Colors are directly opposite one another on the wheel


  • #1, #7
  • #11, #5

Split Complimentary Colors are when you take one color, find its opposite, and then choose the two colors to the right and left of that color.  


  • #3, #8, #10
  • #12, #7, #5

Tertiary Colors are 3 colors that are equidistant from each other around the wheel.


  • #1, #5, #9
  • #10, #2, #6

Analogous Colors are next to each other on the color wheel.


  • #1, #2
  • #7, #8, #9

A Monochromatic Color Scheme refers to choosing all (or several) of the shades within one color.  For example, on this wheel, you'd choose the light, medium and dark shades of just #12.  

 From "Extraordinary Interiors In Colour"

by Jane Rockett & Lucy St George
Published by Ryland Peters & Small, Photography by Catherine Gratwicke

Photography by Catherine Gratwicke

Photography by Catherine Gratwicke

Photography by Catherine Gratwicke


Rockett St. George inside Liberty's of London 



My guest is one half of the partnership behind rocket St. George, which is a fanciful interior shop in London that has a home in liberties of London, as well as an extensive inventory online. Jane rocket along with Lucy St. George have taken their passion for all things home and written two great books on extraordinary interiors, the newest one being all about color. In this conversation, Jane explains the two ingredients that make up color confidence. One is understanding how the color wheel works, and the other is understanding colors. theory rules so that you can break them intentionally if needed to be true to yourself. And because it's a little hard to picture just from listening to our conversation, I've included a color wheel and definitions of different schemes on the show notes page of the website, little yellow couch calm. So while you're listening, or after you're done listening, if you really want to get a better idea of what we're talking about in the color wheel and color theory part of this episode, check out the website for further explanation. Okay, I'm ready to dig in. Jane rocket. Welcome to style matters. Thank you. I'm so sorry that Lucy your business partner, Lucy St. George isn't here with us today, but I thought maybe you could start with just telling us a little bit about how the two of you met. Where you both came from and why on earth you decided to start an interior shop. I mean, I think it's great, but I'm sure for a lot of people that might have been a little risky.

Jane Rockett 3:00
Well, we didn't think about the risks, to be perfectly honest with you. When we started rockets and George, we literally were two friends, we had young children, we needed to earn some money, and we needed to find a way to earn some money that would fit around our lives. We definitely couldn't afford childcare. So, one thing we did share was a huge passion for interiors. And we spent huge amounts of time moving our own furniture around, and redecorating. And we also bought a lot of things for our homes from car boot sales and antique fairs. And we were treasure hunters, really, we shared this passion. And people would always comment on our houses and they'd always ask us where we got things from. And they started asking us to get them for them. Hmm. So it sort of stemmed from there. Really We then on online was very young at that point. It was 12 years ago, we thought we were late to the party, but actually we weren't. And we sat down one day and said, Wait, let's do this. Let's pull all our savings. I think we had 4000 pounds between us. And and we put all our savings and we spent the whole lot on our first collection. And I took all the photos, my histories in marketing and photography, and Lucy's history is floristry and retail. So that combination worked quite well. And we just did it. We didn't really have any great expectations. We just wanted to make some extra money. So the success was a surprise. Really. Yeah,

Zandra Zuraw 4:55
yeah. Well and a wonderful use of both of your talents. And I love i'd love it when things come are sort of born out of necessity as you said, you know, new moms needed to earn some money and couldn't afford childcare. So you weren't going to go back to the jobs that you had that were required you to work out of the home. And so you decided to to make this wonderful, wonderful shop that is filled with fantastical, some glamorous, some bohemian, always quirky and interesting things that you know, I just love to fall into whenever I visit your website. And if I ever get over to England, you know, you have a warehouse in Sussex I think right?

Jane Rockett 5:39
Yes, that's correct. And we also have at the permanent store on the fourth floor at liberty in London.

Zandra Zuraw 5:47
Right, right. So how did that come? I mean, that's a big deal. Liberty is a big deal. That's the dream. such an iconic brand. So how did you end up getting space? They they emailed us. I mean, I have to

Jane Rockett 6:03
say Liberty was one of our main inspirations when we set up focus and George Lucy and I had a few places where we were truly passionate about what they did and how much we loved. What they did what they do with interiors, and liberty had to be probably top of our list. So it was a dream come true when the email arrived, and I think it was Lucy's inbox saying, Would you be interested in

Jane Rockett 6:31
a concession? And yes, it was. I don't think we pause for breath.

Jane Rockett 6:39
So we were absolutely thrilled.

Jane Rockett 6:41
It was

Jane Rockett 6:42
it was a match made in heaven and a dream come true.

Zandra Zuraw 6:45
Walking modulations because that that is a big deal. And I would love to go I've never even been I mean, I know because I haven't been to London and I haven't been over there to London. I don't know in 25 More, more than that. You And I've got to get back and, and take it take a trip of all the fabulous design places there are in your part of the world in speaking of collaborations or working with other companies or brands, tell us a little bit about the paint collection that you curated for Craig and Rose, which is a paint company in the UK for those of you who don't live there,

Jane Rockett 7:24
they're actually based in Edinburgh in Scotland, and they're one of the oldest paint company manufacturers in the UK, and they make the most beautiful paint. And I'm not just saying that because I know because I've painted a lot of rooms in my tire. So when they approached us and asked us whether we would create a collection for them, and to be totally honest with you, Lindsay and I were a little nervous because we were a little bit we were we're not now but we are color phobes and we didn't use a huge amount of color in both of our own homes. So this was a at the beginning of a journey for us with color because we really had to do in depth, research in color, how it works, how it affects your mood, the history of color, and it was a really, really enjoyable experience. And we both completely changed how we look to color. And it's actually what led to the book, extraordinary interiors in color because as a result of all the work we did, creating the paint range, it seemed obvious, I think our publishers were saying Would you like to do another book? We said can we do it and it made perfect sense. And so so that's how that came about.

Zandra Zuraw 8:48
So when when they asked you to curate it, what what did that specifically involved they gave you a bunch of colors and then you decided you put together some color

Jane Rockett 8:58
palettes they gave us a Huge, what's called the color Atlas. And it's pages and pages and it's like a paint of paint charts but they're huge. And so we decided to remove ourselves from that and start thinking about what were influencing us at this time and travel. I think they were. We were traveling to Marrakech a lot at that moment, so there's some quite Klieg cut the Pink's very clay based. The there's a terracotta color Emmanuelle, which is very earthy, and you can see all the influences of what we were doing at that time in our collection.

Zandra Zuraw 9:41
That is so that is so great. So you decided to step away from the paint chips and go look for color elsewhere. And then what did you do come and go back to the paint and and try and match them into our collection? Because we had to use 20 choose 20 out of 1000 Thousands and thousands of options, but we're just about to do it again. So

Jane Rockett 10:06
but yeah, because you know, you change and you develop and your tastes, right? Well, if you're anything like me, I'm quite, I move all the time and I'm always changing what I like. Yeah. So I've got new colors in mind now and it's quite fun. So we'll be doing some new color soon.

Zandra Zuraw 10:24
That is great. I can't wait to see them. And I think this is such good advice for anyone, whenever they're picking out color is when you just look at the paint chip, you're just looking at this, this little square of color that it has no context and it's not next to anything. It's not up against a window, I mean, unless you get a little sample can and then you can start painting some on your walls but I think going out for inspiration first and then trying to find the colors that match that is so much easier and and then therefore it also gives you some context on And how that color is going to work with your room. So I love that. I love that. That's how you approached it.

Jane Rockett 11:06
Yes. Well, that's what translates through to the book that we've asked because we speak a lot about how to take different seasonal colors and translate them into a, a color design for your for your room, or take inspiration from travel. And that's a very tricky thing to do and make it work but we we guide you guide our readers quite carefully through that process.

Zandra Zuraw 11:34
Yeah, let's let's dive into that. So So first of all, give us a rundown on how you associate the five major color schemes with different moods or feelings that they evoke. Oh, this is a this is a science bit yet. But let me just say to everyone who's listening, I've read a lot of books on color theory and some of them are extremely dry and this one was so much fun. So you made the science Thank goodness for that.

Jane Rockett 12:01
It because I read those textbooks as well. And I was really concerned about being too technical and too boring but you cannot write a book about color without including the color wheel. And the rules are the rules of color really. Not that mind you wills are made to be broken and we also talk about that. But in the I think it's the first chapter we discuss the color wheel. The color wheel is all the colors on the spectrum. And the simplest version of it is using the primary colors and Then the Colors between those of the to mix together.

Zandra Zuraw 12:41
Right once you understand sort of the color theory that you talk about five major color schemes but then they associate you associate them with moods, or feelings. So what what are they 

Jane Rockett 12:54
the thing about when once you learn how the color wheel works, it gives you confidence you feel like you can win Within the rules and you know, the right these colors will work together. For example, there's the complementary colors. These are colors that are on the either side of the wheel and they're opposites. There such as red and green, blue and orange, they asked, using the complementary colors, you get a really strong, bold maximum impact. So, for example, el fen, which is a Rio de Marrakech, which we photograph for our book, are brilliant at using complementary colors. They have bright blue walls with orange chairs, and it's spectacular. They're brave and they're bold, and they do it really, really well and it if you want to do this, you can use your color wheel and you can make sure those colors will work together. Yeah, split complementary colors are the opposite color. And then you take the two colors on either side. This again is very, very punchy. But I would say make one the lead and use the other two to accent the main lead color.

Zandra Zuraw 14:12
Right. Right. So one is primary in usage and then the other two are complementary. Yeah,

Jane Rockett 14:17
yeah. And I would say the same for triadic color, which is the three colors that meet at the equal point. So they, I would say again, they will always work together using your wheel, they will always look right. Sometimes you get the three colors together, and I've done it and I think that's never gonna work, but they do, trust me. And then there's a monochrome chromatic scheme, which is where you pick one color. This is the probably the easiest one to do. And it's, it's kinda, it's safe, but it it really works. You pick one color And then you pick shades of that color. So in the book, there's this wonderful home called the tramp shed. And they have, it's full to bursting with plants in all different shades of green. He has the most amazing green velvet sofas is kitchens, vintage and it's all painted in another shade of green. So it's an ocean of different shades of green, and it just feels so alive. And that's a perfect example of a monochromatic color scheme.

Zandra Zuraw 15:33
right not to be confused with black and white. Exactly, exactly. Yes, it can be any color but all of the shades of that color right.

Jane Rockett 15:44
Now, I understand that most people vdon't want to use primary colors in theirvinteriors because they're very bold, very childish, and it's perhaps not for everyone. So what we have also included in in the book is a color wheel of the shade. So you've got all the shades of red from very, very pale pink to very deep, deep, deep Burgundy's. And you can still apply all the rules in all the different shades. So this is quite a big wheel, yeah. which becomes lighter in the middle and darker on the outside. So you can use that choose your choose your color scheme. So although this is very scientific, and I'm not going to do any more, I've tried to keep it as simple as possible.  It does. It is quite simple. We put it together in a very clear way to understand and it will give you confidence. It really really does.

Zandra Zuraw 16:43
I love that about it. It gives you confidence. And I do think that this the shades that the range of shades that you talk about, that gets you away from just using primary colors to me that's where the subtlety and depth is of using color. So I Really appreciate that you include that as well. And I think you're right. Having this kind of a guide does give you confidence because it's not saying there's a right way or a wrong way. It's just saying, look, this is what's going to happen. When you put three colors together. Let's say they're tertiary. And how does that make you feel? Does that feel good to you? You know, so, so it's it's a great chapter. And like I said, it's very accessible. And I really appreciate that. One of your other parts I think this is in toward the beginning of your book. He was so fun taking this trip down memory lane, where you give us a brief description of color through the decades and I would say that most of the homes and hotels you feature in the book have have mixed together at least two decades in terms of color style. I'm sure the choice of color palettes helps make these places feel cohesive, but can you explain how

Jane Rockett 17:55
who this such variety of homes in the in the book but I agree I agree they have mixed. There's a lot of vintage and modern mix in there. I think the reason why it's so cohesive, is because every single owner of all these beautiful homes have been true to themselves in choosing their colors is their unique personality that they've added to their designs. They've broken a few rules. they've they've used all the rules, but then they've twisted it and taken it into their own world. For example, Wendy Morrison, who is has the spectacular house which is packed full of pattern and color. It's really maximalist. Yes,

Zandra Zuraw 18:45
I want to just interrupt you for one second just to say that Wendy was actually on style matters. And I was so interested. Yes, I was so thrilled to see her in your book. So she is a beautiful designer of rugs that are Out of this world, like nothing you've ever seen, so she is a perfect fit for your book. But I wanted to say that when I was talking with her and when we were sharing photos, she never showed me her home. So I was so happy to see it. So I'm sorry I interrupted you, but tell us about where I am. Yeah. Tell us about Wendy's home.

Jane Rockett  19:20
Oh, it's incredible. She mixes incredible colors, so many different patterns. But it doesn't feel overwhelming. She has incredible talent of picking a key color to run through. For example, there's one picture in the book of her sitting room, and she's got a bright green balls on her coffee table. And then she has a picture of Frida Kahlo, I think it was the cover of Vogue where there's a bright green background on it. And then she has a bright green cushion on the sofa. So all with flowers all over it. So although these Three things are very, very intense. They tie together and sort of calm everything down because it feels like it's running through the design. And then the wallpaper will always have a little bit of green into. So she has that thread that ties everything together and makes it feel, right, I suppose is the best way to use. It feels right?

Zandra Zuraw 20:21
Well, what you're talking about is trusting your own instinct, and just really knowing what you love. And I talk about that over and over again in the podcast and the retreats that I run, but I think it's a really hard thing for people to believe I think that they're still saying, Yeah, okay, I'm going to trust my gut, but I'm no professional. I'm no artist. I you know, I there must be rules that I shouldn't be applying and I just can't say enough about how, what you just said your answer as to how do you make it cohesive. Everyone was true to themselves. That is That is just it's so powerful.

Jane Rockett 21:03
What I always say to people, everyone dresses themselves we all dress how we want to look. And we we do it confidently or we do it how we feel comfortable. We all look at interiors, magazines, we look at Instagram and we can admire other interiors or other outfits. But if we were to put them on, we'd feel odd we I mean, yeah, I can admire a fantastic ballgown. But if I was to wear that, I'm not sure how comfortable I would feel. Right. So

Zandra Zuraw 21:36
I feel like the same instead of right. Yeah,

Jane Rockett  21:39
yeah, I don't. That's not me. I'm not a ballgown kind of girl. But I do love dresses but I like more bohemian dresses or I do like a suit. I like to dress in a you know, really nice smart blazer but I'm a little bit more toned down I'm not whereas Lucy is very glamorous dressing. She likes black, lace, and big jewelry and she's very rock and roll. So she and her home is in the book and you can see that in her interiors. So I think that the best place to start is your wardrobe.

Zandra Zuraw 22:13
Yeah, makes sense. Absolutely. I love that idea that we dress ourselves, we should be able to dress our homes to. Yeah. You do talk a lot about nature in the book. And I know that in your own homes and in your shop. There's just so much nature inspiration. Can you give us one of your favorite examples of how you have brought nature in to your home as a guide for a color palette? Or if there's an example from your book that you'd like to share?

Jane Rockett 22:46
Well, Mother Nature doesn't get it wrong. Does she? She's She's She's She's the best decorator there is, I think. So she's she's the first place to go. If you're having problems, just you know, any flower that where she's put colors together. It, just copy her she she knows she totally knows what she's doing. And Lucy and I both well, Lucy being a florist, she is very passionate about flowers and her house is full of plants and always full of flowers. I too, I've just cut a load of branches of a blossom tree so I can have blossom inside. We're both always bringing the outside in. I think the example in the book has to be Nicole Riyadh, where a lot of people have said to be old, there's no color here, but it's a subtle color, where she it's the color in the word or the color in the metal, or the color in the clay tiles. And that's nature's color coming through. And that that is so beautiful. And we've really tried to do that in the book is to give the most subtle example of color together with the most Maximum less color together with the most color blocking. So all the homes show you something different. That is what I

Zandra Zuraw 24:07
loved about the book was the the diverse homes or sometimes it's I believe you have a hotel in there. They're all using color, but they're doing it in very different ways. So there is something for everyone to relate to inside this book. I mean, they're all bold. I think they're all daring. You know, they're all they're all. No one. No one in this book is saying, Oh, please don't look at me. They're saying this is who I am. This is this is how I live. And here Here it is. Which, which I just think is so inspirational.

Jane Rockett 24:45
And so brave. They've all been really brave with their choices. Yes, I have to be honest and say they're braver than I am. But it was it was, I think with both books loose I both felt the same. We would go to all these incredible houses and we'd go home ago, right? So I need to start again.

Zandra Zuraw 25:08
I want to wrap up with talking about how you both you and Lucy both are obviously passionate about interiors and you do a great job of helping others find amazing one of a kind pieces through your shop. And you offer ideas to them on how to incorporate everything from wallpaper to tiles to light fixtures. You've now have two books on the subject. Why does all of this matter? What do you personally think that developing one's own unique style? What does that do for us in terms of our our life experience?

Jane Rockett  25:46
Oh, it's so so important. Well, I'm British, so an Englishman's home is his castle.I think that your home is probably the most efficient Place to make your sanctuary. I think Lucy and I both have families, we both are motherly, we both work at the same time. But when we get home, we want our home to make us feel relaxed. We want to, we want to have room for entertaining. We we want room for our children's to have their friends, we want and we want the environment to feel calm, relaxed and happy. And I think that is so important in this day and age where there is so many issues with mental health and overpopulation. And so everybody is so living so quickly and so fast, that there has to be somewhere in your world that is the place to relax and feel at home.

Zandra Zuraw 26:48
You know, I read something recently about how this newest generation of young adults so the people that maybe have just graduated from college, there's a trend for them having dinner party's instead of going out, which I think is so wonderful. I mean, when I lived in New York, your apartment is so tiny that that's one of the reasons you went out all the time. It was just hard to have people over. But I love this idea of figuring out how to make it work, even in a tiny space where you are inviting people into your sanctuary, as you say, and celebrating that so yeah,

Jane Rockett 27:26
hundred percent. Yeah, that's exactly what a home should be about. It should be about feeling happy. And being with your loved ones.

Zandra Zuraw 27:35
Well, Jane, thank you so much. This This was not an easy episode, because the book is I mean, you have got to get your hands on this book because the visuals are so amazing. I mean, this week when we air it, I will be doing some Instagram stories to show you bits and pieces from the book, but I really encourage you to pick it up and listen to the episode. While you're looking at the book, because because I just as you can hear in my voice, it, there's a lot to dig into. Jane, thank you so much for your time today. I'm so happy to have met you this way and have a wonderful weekend.

Jane Rockett 28:15
Thank you so much. Thank you for involving us. And I'm so pleased you love the book as much as we do. We're very, very proud of it. And it isn't that complicated. A promise. We have tried to simplify it as much as possible.

Zandra Zuraw 28:29
Yes, great job doing that for sure. Thanks so much for listening. Don't forget to subscribe to the little yellow couch newsletter. So you can get your hands on my foundational worksheet, all about creating your own style Manifesto. It'll put you in the right mindset for any project you're about to tackle in your home. You can find it at little yellow couch.com. Have a great weekend and I'll be back in your earbuds next Monday.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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