Styling consultation...helping make a new house into a colourful home
Some people are good at cooking. I'm in awe of my friends who can just chuck a bunch of random ingredients into a bowl and come up with a plate of food which tastes like Yotam Ottolenghi has taken up residence in the kitchen. Others are really good with their hands. Like my dad. Sadly he didn't pass that one on to me. But the one thing I did definitely inherit was a talent for interiors and decorating, just like my mama. I can't remember a time when my mum hasn't been redecorating. Like ever. She finishes the house, then starts again.
So that's my skill. It took a while for me to decide to unite that with my other main skill (words) and make it my career. But here we are. And it feels good. But even pre-blog, I could often be heard dishing out advice to friends/family/random people in B&Q on paint colours, furniture purchases and room layouts. So I was totally delighted to be approached about a styling consultation by someone in a professional capacity.
The client had recently moved from a small flat in Brixton to a much bigger house (in my local area as luck would have it) with her husband and one-year-old son, and was feeling a little bit overwhelmed with the amount of space suddenly available to her and what to do with it. Specifically the client wanted help with her open plan living and dining room and advice on how to inject colour and interest "in a non-scary way". So far, so good! She loved what I had done with my own house renovation so far and wanted something which was glamorous but also suitable for family living. I firmly believe that style at home does not have to be compromised by the arrival of the little people so was delighted with this brief.
She had already made a few new purchases including a dining table, some grey armchairs and she had had a row of three copper cage pendants fitted above the dining table and so the brief was to work a scheme around those. There was also a very cool grey sideboard which she had bought while living and working in New York. So we were starting from a base point of grey and copper. Beyond that the client had inherited beige walls a go go from the previous homeowners. There was also a huge squishy cream sofa which she was keen to be rid of and replace it with an equally squishy navy velvet sofa. The one below is the delicious Pudding sofa from Loaf which I recommended because of its deep, plump seats.
It was clear from her purchases so far that grey was her go to colour. And there's nothing wrong with that. But she'd hired me to bring the colour and that's what I intended to do! But as much as I love colour, I'm also a big fan of starting with a neutral base on the walls and adding the interest with a few carefully chosen accessories. This is also a perfect entry point for someone who is a little afraid of colour. So I suggested freshening up the beige walls with a lovely cool, but not concretey grey, like Dulux's Dusted Moss, Farrow and Ball's Cornforth White or Little Greene's French Grey Mid. I then added pops of colour with items like the fabulous orange footstool from Made.com and the pink and orange velvet and shaggy Mongolian cushion. I added more texture with the super soft Beni Ourain style rug which is fast becoming a modern classic for very good reason. They go with everything and I particularly like to use them to tone down the glamour of velvet and metallics. Beni's are also perfect for little people to roll around on and hide dirt surprisingly well, as I've discovered. The super cool retro swimming pool print is by the wonderful Gray Malin and I included it here as it was similar to one already owned by the client. The black floor lamp was brought in to ground the whole scheme and the touches of copper (seen here in the side table and the sputnik pendant) are a common thread across all three areas and serve to tie the whole open plan area together. The one thing I did push for was the statement light. No room is complete without one. The client had actually bought a simple copper lined drum shade for the living area but this was the one new purchase that I recommended she sacrifice to achieve the overall look.
Next up was the in-betweeny area between the living room and the dining room. As this was one of the first areas your eyes fell upon when you walked into the room from the hallway, I wanted to give it instant impact. A pair of table lamps placed on either side of a sideboard or console table brings instant sophistication and you can't go far wrong with Pooky's fabulous selection of lamps and shades. The large round copper mirror is a surprising twist on a classic style and provides that continuity between the two areas. This sideboard is from Atkin and Thyme and most closely resembled the one the client already owned.
And last but not least the dining area. The client had bought a table and fitted the lights but it definitely needed a bit of a colour and pattern boost. I found a Persian style rug which contained the accent colours of navy, pink and orange from the living room. Call me overly cautious but I'm not sure it's worth blowing the budget on a rug for under a dining table. Whether it's spaghetti bolognese that's slopped from your little darlings chin, or a full glass of Rioja sloshed during a raucous dinner party (in our house in could be either) you're not going to handle it well if it's on your rare vintage rug bought from that top end dealer in the Edgeware Road. So I'd say check out some of the many cheaper options currently out there from Ikea to Wayfair. There are some amazing options and while I was researching this project I ended up buying one myself. Perils of the job. These Muuto dining chairs are a bit of a big ticket option. I love these chairs and if budget allowed I'd go for five grey and one orange to throw the overall look off a touch. But your classic Eames DSR (real or replicas) would also work a treat in this scheme. Finally I recommended a bar area (this one's from MiaFleur) with a personalised neon to make the whole thing a bit fun. And I'm all about the fun.
What do you think of the mood boards I created? I absolutely loved doing this and helping the client to look at her home with fresh eyes. And I'm excited about a few more potential styling projects that I have coming up with very different briefs and style. Watch this space. And if you feel like you need a bit of styling help, get in touch!