I am often asked questions like “how do you decide on style” “how do you choose items and colours for your interiors” “how do you start in designing a room”.
My answers to those questions are always the same: 3 things…
…choose what you love, focus on the ‘feel’ and don’t be afraid to experiment.
1. CHOOSE WHAT YOU LOVE
Choose items that you love regardless of style.
I live in a Victorian house. When I moved in 5 years ago, I could not decide on the decor. It took me months to decide on the look and feel that I want for the interiors. Why? Because in my mind, I was thinking everything should go with the house style: traditional scheme, pale colours, vintage items and so on. Without spending too much money, I chose items that fitted the traditional classic look and upcycled a few things to bring in vintage and a bit of shabby. It was ok although deep inside I wanted to change it as soon as I finished. The house just kept changing until I realised I don’t have to stick to a style!
Now I mix everything up from different styles and eras. I choose items that I love whether that be ultra contemporary or vintage or just plain worn out. In fact juxtaposing old and new always works for me. The contrast this juxtaposition brings adds another level of interest to a space.
I source items from various places too: online shops, ebay, Gumtree, local selling sites, brocantes and antique shops, talking of which I’d like to introduce a vintage retro antique shop in London if you’re looking for one – Antiques of Wimbledon is a brick and mortar shop and has an offshoot online shop called Napoleon Rockefeller specialising in retro vintage furniture and decor .
Napoleon Rockefeller are a family run independent business based in Wimbledon Southwest London. They sell an eclectic mix of vintage antique décor and new hand crafted seating made in the UK. They are one of the last remaining antique shops in the area – many having closed down due to pressures such as high rates, competition from online shopping, the big chains – Ikea and the like.
The key piece in this corner of my studio is the Tamsin Peacock chair from Napoleon Rockefeller who specialise in handcrafted chairs made in the UK, bespoke re-upholstery and soft furnishings service. Napoleon Rockefeller is run by Tina Tay who also offers bespoke furniture-painting service. Tina is a Fine Art trained, ex-TV Director, mum-of-two turned furniture painter, and upholsterer.
I love the traditional style of the chair upholstered in this unique fabric with gold and teal peacock accents. As expected from traditionally handcrafted chairs, this chair is super comfortable, solid, with impeccable quality. It feels secure when you sit on it, unlike some I’ve had which feels light and you wonder whether it’ll hold your weight. This one is the real thing!
Napoleon Rockefeller pride themselves on their customer care – to which I can attest as nothing short of amazing – and are always showcasing an intriguing mix of items from antique French Chiffonier to taxidermy fish and retro lighting. Locals have described Napoleon Rockefeller as ‘an Aladdin’s Cave’ or ‘treasure trove’. If you’re local, it’s worth a visit as only a fraction of their items are shown online. Go give them a follow on Instagram.
Choose colours that you love.
If you’re not sure what they are, check your wardrobe! Often it’s the colours that you wear and feel comfortable in that also feel right in your home! I have realised this after doing a wardrobe clearout. I found that my wardrobe is nature inspired, pinks, greens, blues, blacks and the occasional orange. In terms of accessories I wear, I like gold and brass, denim and leather. It was a bit of a revelation when I realised my interiors are exactly the same!
Sticking to a trend or a particular style can be restrictive to ones creativity. I have certainly found that myself.
When I have a colour scheme, for example, if I limit it to just 2 colours, I find myself in a pickle – having to choose only things that match and for everything to complement the two colours can snuff out creativity and freedom in choosing items that make you happy.
So whilst I say reign in the colour palette, extend it to 4 colours:
a. a base colour that brings everything together making the space look cohesive,
b. a colour (or colour family) that complements the base colour and is the same saturation strength so it doesn’t disappear but its a strong feature too,
c. a contrast colour (or colour family) that makes something jump out and invite the viewer’s eyes to explore the space
d. a colour that brings a natural element like gold, copper, wood or greenery to soften the space
This bottle green colour on the wall – Graham and Brown’s Adeline, colour of the year 2020, is my base colour here. Teal (teal lampshade from Wild Lampshades) and blue (Kruger throw from Emma Shipley) are my complementary colours. Mustard (yellow floral cushion from Susi Bellamy) and orange (lounge light from Locomocean) are my contrast colours and the warmth of the wood / gold and greenery are the natural colours.
2. FOCUS ON THE FEEL
First of all, don’t worry about how it will look in the end. Think about being inspired instead. Start from a point of inspiration. Inspiration is a feeling so aim to feel inspired. Inspiration can come from many places and sources so just be open to what catches your eye and evokes an excitement in you.
Secondly, think about how you want the space to make you feel. Warm? Cosy? Fun? Cocooning? Relaxing? Happy? Friendly? Dramatic? Peaceful? Calm? Quiet? Loud? Exciting? Make sure your answer is an emotion rather than a description of the space. Start there and work your way back. Always start with the emotion as the “brief” and from there you can gauge whether any item in your room will achieve that brief.
In this space, nature is my inspiration – greens, animals, florals. But I also wanted this space to be cosy, warm, cocooning. Somewhere I want to sink into at the end of the day. A comfy chair. A warm throw. Dim lights. I want to feel “hugged” by this space. I’ve decided the feel for this place was to be cosy and warm and I built it up from there.
Don’t be afraid to try things out. Often I try several combinations and a few faffing sessions before I feel I’ve got things right. Shop your home, change things around. And if they don’t look right or if you make mistakes, they can easily be changed back to what it was or you can try something new. Even repainting a wall is not too difficult.
Sometimes, a space can take time to form so that the design grows organically. This is great and and the journey will add soul and story to the space so be patient with yourself and take your time.
This styled corner of my studio started initially as part of a collaboration with Napoleon Rockefeller which then turned into a 60K Giveaway on Instagram seeing it coincided with my account reaching 60K followers. Therefore, other gifted items feature on here as well:
Napoleon Rockefeller – Tamsin Peacock chair
Graham and Brown – Adeline Paint
Emma Shipley – Kruger Throw
Wild Lampshades – Teal fringed lampshade
Susi Bellamy – Yellow bouquet cushion
Dowsing and Reynolds – Copper double socket with USB
Locomocean – Lounge Neon light
Rustic Warehouse – metal star
I hope you found this post helpful. I’d be grateful if you would share on your stories or mention or tag me Instagram layered.home on your posts. I’d love it if you would follow me on there too!