House Envy - What Happens When Fashion Meets Interiors? A Home Where Bold Colour & Pattern rules
When colour-loving fashion stylist Gayle Rinkoff, met colour-loving interior designer Emma Gurner, it was always going to have pretty special results. And that lounge (above) with its holy matrimony of Calamine pink walls, Olive ceiling and Pearl Lowe for Woodchip & Magnolia curtains is definitely special. Gayle and Emma had been in the same social circle for years, but it was only when a mutual friend suggested they work together on Gayle’s renovation, that their friendship really came into its own. As a busy, working mum of three, Gayle, who is the Style Director on talent show The Voice, was struggling to find the time to dedicate to renovating the home she shares with her husband and three daughters.
She hired Emma with a brief to ‘put back the character that had been ripped out by the previous owners’. Gayle says: “The house was very sterile and very white when we bought it. We kind of lived in this hospital environment for years and I didn’t have time to tackle it, but there came a point when we knew it was time to do something about it.”
Emma’s first project was the master bedroom, which Gayle wanted to feel like a sumptuous hotel room and like a sanctuary to retreat to at the end of the day. “I handed the colours over to Emma to decide and didn’t dictate any particular styles, I just spoke to Emma about where I’m coming from in a fashion sense and how I wanted that to translate into the house. I wanted to go bold because I don’t wear black and I don’t really do beige, grey or neutral, I’m all about colour and pattern, stripes and florals.”
Emma translated that into this very sophisticated pallet of deep, rich burgundy on the walls, paired with teal curtains and a pale pink ceiling.
And on the other side of the room, she embraced one of Gayle’s fashion staples to create a dream dressing room scenario. Gayle said: “Leopard print has a massive presence in my wardrobe so when Emma showed me the House of Hackney Leopard wallpaper, I fell for it instantly.” And no wonder because it’s EVERYTHING!
With the bedroom sorted, next up was the whole downstairs of the house. This was all about giving Gayle back the characterful home she had been craving. She explains: “The house was very sterile and very white when we bought it and it was kind of like living in a hospital. The whole of the downstairs is very open plan and about 90% of the flooring was these giant white shiny tiles, the other 10% was a rust coloured tile which they had then used as skirting as well. Several years ago, I lived in a very beautiful Victorian house which I had done up and it was hired as a location house. All of the features were original and it was stunning but then I broke up with my husband and I left the house behind me. So part of me has always wanted to get that charm and character back.”
Despite Gayle’s strong sense of style, Emma was given a huge amount of freedom on this project. She said: “Gayle is a busy person and she has a strong sense of her own style, but no time at all to do any of it. She gave me complete free reign to do what I wanted so it was a lovely project to work on.”
Emma had already decided to keep the existing Calamine pink walls and add the beading to embellish it, but it wasn’t until she saw the Pearl Lowe for Woodchip and Magnolia collection at Design Junction last September that everything else fell into place. She says: “I saw the velvet and I thought OMG I have to use that. I hadn’t decided on anything else at that point. But from there came the decision to paint the ceiling olive green which gives the room real depth and punch.”
Lots of people would panic at the idea of a green ceiling but Gayle had total trust. She said: “Emma suggested the olive ceiling, and by that point I had full trust in what she was doing, so I said let’s go for it! I was all over being a bit brave and doing something out of the ordinary. And that fabric is just incredible. I actually met Pearl Lowe in Goa over Christmas and I had to tell her all about my new curtains and how obsessed I was with the fabric. As for the ceiling, it’s funny because people walk in there and they don’t always notice the ceiling, I have to point it out to them.”
There’s a lot of buzz around painted ceilings and Emma was an early adopter, as you can see from Gayle’s bedroom. She says: “I think that they are such an underused surface. People always think they have to paint their ceilings white to keep it bright but I’d throw that rule out of the window. It’s just another surface to play with. If you want to compliment a room that’s the perfect way to do it without going full hog, you can even keep the walls neutral by making a statement up there. Or you can be subtle with it too.”
Elsewhere downstairs Emma also made sure she got rid of the floor tiles that Gayle disliked so much, and replaced it with herringbone parquet from Ted Todd flooring, which unifies everything and gives Gayle the warm, traditional feel she was craving.
Other major changes and investment pieces included the addition of two vintage fireplaces. Gayle and her husband found the one in the lounge at a reclamation yard, and Emma sourced the marble fireplace in the family room from Lassco. The fireplace going in was a major watershed moment for Gayle as it brought a focal point to a room which they had struggled to find a use for.
Gayle said: “The fireplace in the Debbie room has got to be my favourite find. The minute that went in it transformed that entire space. I love it! Prior to that the room was just dead space. We kept moving the sofa round to try and make it work but there was nothing to focus on and so we never sat in there. But now it’s become a hub, because of Debbie (Harry, the artwork from Light Up North) as we like to call her and the fireplace, it feels like this lovely space that we can all meet in. The kids will sit there and play cards and we all just sit together and hang out there and we never really did that before. The pink room is where me and my husband hang out.”
For Emma, the Debbie Harry artwork was another one of those ‘Yes!’ moments that informed the rest of her plans for that room. “Gayle already had the blue velvet sofa and wanted to keep it. Once I found the Debbie Harry piece and the fireplace, I knew how we could use the blue velvet sofa in that space and that in turn tied in with the floral Woodchip & Magnolia wallpaper in the kitchen.
The wallpaper wasn’t an instant hit with everyone in the house. “I love my big floral wall, says Gayle, “But my kids hated it at first. Then all their friends came round and said they loved it, so now they’re on board to. It ties the kitchen and dining are in perfectly with the sofa and the family room.”
The final room that Emma worked her magic on was the downstairs toilet/cloakroom which she decked out in a pink and ochre botanical print wallpaper by House of Hackney and had the builders make a shelf for sink and tile it in pink tiles. The mirror is a vintage find that Gayle had had for years.
Gayle is over the moon with how the whole project worked out from start to finish and to finally have the characterful home she wanted. When I asked her what the main thing she took from her experience of working with Emma, she said: “The thing that I struggled with was being very overwhelmed by the choice of everything. People often say that to me about choosing clothes, but I can edit those down no problem. When it came to interiors I felt like I was trawling through thousands of pages of stuff. The most amazing thing Emma did was just showed me four of everything and I selected from those. I also think having someone like Emma, who just got me and what I was about, was the key. It’s a bit like finding a husband or partner, if they get you then they’ll do a brilliant job. She totally understood where I was coming from.”
And speaking of husbands, I wondered how much say Gayle’s husband had in the design process. “Well,” she said giggling, “My husband is Danish and he kept saying he wanted that whole Scandi cool look, maybe a wood burning oven, you know the kind of things. He’s all about straight lines and that’s all he wanted.” So, um, he got nothing he wanted in the end then? “Haha no! But a week ago when we were all sat having breakfast together, he suddenly said: ‘Can I just say, I absolutely love what you and Emma have done to the house.’ So we won him over in the end!
GET THE LOOK
That’s all folks! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this House Envy and beautiful home in the comments below.
And huge thanks to Emma and Gayle for allowing me to share this project.