On the Colour Couch with bold colour lover Karen Martin

Little Book of Colour. On the colour couch with Karen Martin.

When I stumbled across Karen’s instagram feed there was no doubt here was someone who was completely in love with colour. I just love her colourful collections and finds.

Here Karen shares with us her favourite colour and how living in a rental apartment in Boston, USA didn’t stop her injecting her bold love of colour.

What does colour mean to you?
For me, color means no limitations on anything. Color is like the chance to have everything. Do you want that awesomely patterned rug? Yes. Do I want bright curtains? Yes. Do I love that hand painted cabinet? Yes. Am I having a thing with pom pom garlands? Yes. Did I fancy that vintage glassware at the antique fair? Yes. If you embrace all the colors, you can just fill your home with everything that makes your heart happy, rather than having to give it too much thought about how it might “fit” or “match”. If it makes you happy, it will fit.

Do you have a favourite colour or a colour that you find yourself constantly drawn to? And why?
I think for me it’s always been turquoise! I think I love that it’s not entirely blue or green but a wonderful combination that’s perfectly bold and subtle at the same time.

I remember when I moved into my first adult apartment, I went to IKEA and saw the iconic EXPEDIT cube shelf in all the regular colors like white, wood finish, black, brown and then they had it in BRIGHT TURQUOISE and I refused to leave the store without the turquoise shelf. I’ve since given it away, but my love for the color has never died and I just got a new turquoise armchair! 

What do you love most about working with colour?
For me, color has no limits whatsoever. As someone who rents and doesn’t own my home, what I can do to the actual walls and structures of my home are limited. The walls are off-white and I really can’t change that. The floors are hardwood, which I love, but I can’t change. The kitchen is white. It’s all a blank slate so the way I can make my home mine is through color.

The textures and art and fabrics and plants and furniture are the moldable parts that bring who I am into my space. I collect items from so many places – travel, shops, crafting, etc. – and each has a special association.

What do you think your life would be like without colour?
I think people would be unable to recognize me! I think when you become associated with color, people also associate you with happiness and a bright attitude, which is certainly a great mantra for life anyway.

Having such a colorful home and also carrying that into things like a colorful wardrobe means that there is always some kind of conversation starter and something that draws people in to ask me more, which I love and appreciate. Even though I’m an introvert at heart, I think I’m able to speak louder through colors and without that, I wouldn’t be able to convey the brightness that I really do have deep down. 

Were you ever afraid or wary of colour? And what did you do to overcome this?
I’m not sure I was ever afraid or wary of it so much as perhaps I didn’t have the chance to embrace it until I moved into my most recent apartment. I think young people, perhaps especially as I see it, people who move a lot or rent their home feel like their home isn’t their “real” home or it’s not “worth it” to decorate how they want.

I’ve always had grand ideas for my home but made excuses like “this is temporary” or “this place is too small”. When I moved into my current home last summer, I loved the bones of the apartment and knew it was finally time to go all out. I think it’s important to realize that any home can be the home you want – you just need to take your vision and apply it. 

Do you have a favourite colour place that you visit (or have visited)?
It would be hard to pick just one but a few that come to mind are the Tom Fruin stained glass house under the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC, the graffiti park in Austin, Texas I visited last year and the amazing colored homes with white roofs in Bermuda. In general, I love murals and wherever I travel, I try to track down the best outdoor public art! 

For anyone afraid of colour what would your number 1 piece of advice be?
You can start small! Embracing color doesn’t have to mean painting your walls bright orange. For me, I started collecting small bright pieces that caught my eye. Maybe start by picking one room that you would like to give a color theme. My living room has a yellow, magenta and turquoise theme so when I’m out and about, I always know that if I see a funky object in one of those three colors, it might be something good for that room.

Maybe you can start with collecting one type of colorful item – I have great collections of PEZ dispensers or vintage postcards that all have amazing bright colors and you can display them in one part of your house. Or maybe you have a piece of wood furniture that you can see would do great with a coat of bright paint! Pick one way to incorporate color and build from there. Don’t worry about clashing or matching – there really is no such thing!

If you would like find out how Karen injects bold colour into her rental home, you can find her over on Instagram @kilsyth.kitsch

Wishing you a colourful day!

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