Most Premiership managers probably don’t have a lot of time to think about interior decor but, keen to use every means at his disposal to get the very best out of his team, ‘Big Sam’ Allardyce, manager of Blackburn Rovers, is getting to grips with the power of colour...
Having recently overseen two very different design projects – one at his Lancashire home and the other at one of his club’s most important venues – the Rovers boss has been learning how ‘colour psychology’ can be applied in all sorts of interior environments to positively influence mood, behaviour and performance.
Over the past year Sam and his wife Lynn have significantly extended and completely refurbished the Allardyce home, working closely with Leeds interior designer Ben Huckerby to transform their property into a calm, relaxing ‘sanctuary’ away from the media spotlight and pressures of the Premiership .
“With my frenetic job, I need a retreat to escape to, where I can completely switch off from work,” said Sam, “so we asked Ben to create an atmosphere of total calm and comfort, but with an air of opulence and sophistication for when we’re entertaining guests”.
Ben has achieved the couple’s brief using a very tightly controlled colour palette of soft muted neutral shades which flow from one room to the next. “There are absolutely no harsh contrasting blocks of colour in this design scheme,” said the designer, “Instead I’ve just used carefully co-ordinated tone-on- tone neutrals that with just a few touches of burnt amber as an accent colour, and lots of richly textured furnishings and fabrics.”
These same tonal colours have been used on floors, walls and ceilings all through the house, from the travertine marble, plush carpets and crushed velvet drapes to the luxurious wall coverings and carefully colour matched paints. “I’ve used Clean Extreme Scrubbable Matt throughout,” says Ben.”I like the soft, contemporary flat matt finish, and from a practical view it should keep its ‘just decorated’ look even if it has to be scrubbed clean after young grandchildren have been to stay and left sticky handprints everywhere!”
Ben is not the only expert to have given Sam advice on colour recently. The football manager has also been working closely with colour consultants at Crown Paints, club sponsors, to revamp the decor at Rovers’ state of the art Seniors Training Centre.
“We’ve got a superb centre with great facilities, but the interiors were bland. I just knew it could be a much more ‘effective’ venue if we gave it a makeover,” said Sam. “Crown’s colour advisors were really keen to help. They went right back to basics, assessing the function and purpose of each area and they came back with a range of colour schemes to trigger the appropriate mood and psychological response from the players.”
Clean Extreme Scrubbable Matt was specified here too, in order to extend the maintenance schedule and withstand the punishment expected in an environment used day in day out all year round by energetic football players.
The choice of coating gave the colour specialists an extensive colour palette to work with. In the reception lobby they used Rovers’ corporate blues and red to create an impressive welcome to the building. In the ‘Prozone’, where team briefings take place, an intense shade of blue was combined with vibrant tangerine - colour ‘opposites’ which the brain finds complex to process together. The theory is that strong colour contrasts like this should deliver an attentive and responsive audience. The same intense colours were specified for the changing rooms to focus attention and promote a feeling of energy.
The lack of natural daylight in the corridors presented a challenge which Crown solved by bathing the walls in a combination of brilliant white and turquoise, perceived as a friendly colour, to give a really bright and airy feel. Clean Extreme’s flat matt finish effectively dampens the glare from the fluorescent tubes overhead.
The only areas where softer neutral paint shades have been used is in the dining room and ‘chill out zone’ where players take breaks, refuel, relax and socialise. The new decor comprises pale ivory, beige and coffee colours applied in a broad stripe design to add interest, with a lime green feature wall to make the space feel funky and up-beat. To encourage relaxation in the ‘chill-out zone’, soothing shades of purple saturated with pigment were introduced.
MITIE’s Property Services Division brought all the colour schemes to life in just two and a half short weeks whilst the players were on their pre-season break. Sam reports that the new decor was extremely well received by players and the staff alike on their return. He said: “Our thanks to go Crown for their colour expertise and their fantastic paints, and to MITIE who really pulled out all the stops to get the redecoration done in record time, and have done a terrific job.”
“As a result of working with Ben and the Crown Paints colour experts I’ve learnt quite a bit about colour psychology over the last few months and its fascinating stuff!
“As far as my home is concerned, Lynn and I love our calming new colour schemes and can’t wait to move back in. Over at the training centre Crown Paints and MITIE have given me a vibrant building that oozes energy, dynamism and professionalism. Whether it helps to take us to the top of the league this season remains to be seen, but you’ve got to admit, it’s really got the wow factor!”