Late September I was over at Emma’s place to record an episode of her fabulous and popular Inside Stylists Podcast where we were talking all things colour and to discuss the upcoming Stylish Supper Club colour talk. Being the great colour lover that she is and working with colour every single day as an interior stylist for magazine shoots, events and well just about anything interiors I thought she would be great to feature On The Colour Couch or in this case, On The Colour Chairs!
What is your earliest colour memory?
My mum used to go to France for the day one or twice a year with a group of friends and she always came home with giant jars of Nutella – which wasn’t available here then, French mustard and of course the usual delicacies. One time, when I was around eight, she brought back two beautiful Holly Hobby toiletry bags. Holly Hobby was my favourite character at the time. She was a beautiful doll and I wanted anything with her on. My mum said I could chose one – the pink or the blue. One was for me, one was going to be a friend’s birthday present. I chose blue as I thought my mum would give the one I thought was best to my friend. Of course she gave me the blue! I wanted the pink! I’ve never liked blue since!
What does colour mean to you?
Colour is all about how you feel and how it makes you feel whether that’s in fashion, interiors or something as simple as makeup. Since I stopped dying my very grey hair I noticed how certain colours made me feel drained and invisible. I made a conscious effort to avoid those colours ever since – the greys, blacks and beige neutrals. In the same way when I wear stronger, brighter colours I feel more alive, approachable and bubbly. Colour has become a tool. Once I really understood it it’s made a huge difference in my daily life, clothing and more importantly my home. Small tweaks have made the biggest changes.
Do you have a favourite colour or a colour that you find yourself constantly drawn to? And why?
Oh yes. At the moment it’s all shades of teal and turquoise with a back up colour of navy. Am I allowed three faves? I think so!
I have a lot of grey in my home and when you hear interior designers talking about the red thread (the colour theme that runs throughout your home to pull the whole look together ) I just thought “Mines grey”, but in fact subconsciously teal has been creeping in more and more over the past year or so.
I think you change which colours you are drawn to as you go through different times in your life. Grey makes me feel invisible in fashion and so I’m working my way through my house to remove it now. I want my home to feel more alive.
Do you have a colour that you least like? And why?
Yellow. Possibly because I don’t think it works well for me in interiors – or fashion. Hints of yellow are fine but you have to be so careful with the shades. Also there was a lot of yellow in my house and my previous house when we moved in. I think people want a bright and cheerful colour in their homes so they go for yellow but it can look so insipid and is too stimulating. It’s just not for me. Unless it’s mustard shades. Now, if you want to buy me a bunch of sunflowers or daffodils I definitely won’t say no.
What do you love most about working with colour?
I’m really lucky in my interior styling work as I get to get my ‘colour fix’ with every new room set I design – otherwise I think I’d be constantly redecorating my own home! I love the challenge of pulling a room together for a photo shoot no matter what the brief whether that’s a trend story, a themed look or just another Christmas room set. I get to create a whole new look with endless colours every month. It’s a bit like playing house when you’re a kid – pure creativity.
What do you think your life would be like without colour?
Very dull indeed. I can’t event imagine it. Actually, I don’t want to!
What’s your favourite colour story?
When it comes to your home you have to really feel connected to the colour. When we first moved into this house and decorated the living room we chose a black Marcel Wanders wallpaper for the feature wall. It had grey details and we matched the grey to a paint colour exactly and used it on the three remaining walls. It took ages to do three coats and the day after I walked into the room and said “this doesn’t work!”. Grey can be so brown or so blue. It was the wrong shade by a fraction but all I could see was it was wrong. I couldn’t live with it.
It took hours and great expense to repaint the room but it looked perfect when it was finished. I would walk in and just sigh with a love for the way room made me feel. That’s what you want from a colour. A deep routed connection and a feeling of home.
So, if you ever decorate a room and don’t ‘feel’ it by the end – redecorate. It’s so important that you love your home.
Were you ever afraid or wary of colour? And what did you do to overcome this?
I’ve only ever been nervous of what my husband would say when he’s been away with work and comes home to find that I’d painted the whole kitchen – ceiling and all, dark grey when it was white when he left. Or his reaction to the front door going dark teal. I kind of know what his reaction will be – “It’s a bit dark isn’t it?” He’s a very patient man with all my ‘surprise’ changes. In general he’s pretty laid back and doesn’t mind. Every now and then he actually likes what I’ve done straight away but the kitchen did need extra lighting to satisfy his need for the kitchen not to feel like a “cave”.
I’ve never been afraid of strong colours but I do have to compromise to keep the whole family happy. Luckily I have very creative daughters who love how different our house looks to other peoples.
For anyone afraid of colour what would your number 1 piece of advice be?
If you’re looking to add colour to an existing interior then you can go slow and add pieces that don’t cost the earth but can make a gentle impact. A cushion here a piece of artwork there will all add colour. You don’t have to go all out and paint a whole wall or chose a bold wallpaper to bring colour in. Gently adding pieces slowly will let you see how much colour you can feel comfortable with.
When selecting the right colour but you’re stumped start by just placing something of that colour in the room, for example if you have a grey living room and want to add yellow start by placing a yellow piece of clothing/ tea towel or bedding in the room over a chair or sofa and see how it makes you feel when you walk into the room. Does it feel right?
Which colourful person do you most admire and would love me to interview for the On the Colour Couch series?
Kit Kemp and Emma Deterding from Kelling Designs, They both not only use colour brilliantly in their interior design but the way they mix and match patterns is pure genius. Or maybe even Abigail Ahern for her clever use of dark colours.
I absolutely agree with Emma in her thoughts that you change which colours you are drawn to as you go through different times in your life. We are drawn to colours depending on how we are feeling about ourselves and our place in the world. This is the shift in our emotions. I have been noticing so many people who are moving away from grey. For Emma it was the feeling of being invisible and now wanting to feel more alive. Colour can do this in an instant!
If you would like to listen to Emma and I chatting about colour, here’s the link to her podcast – The Interior Stylist Podcast – Really getting to grips with colour with Karen Haller.
THE STYLISH SUPPER CLUB COLOUR EVENT
If you’re an interior designer or stylist and love colour and you’re in London on November 12th, then you’ll want to come to this lunch time event. Emma has invited Marianne Shillingford Creative Director Dulux and me to be guest speakers to share our love of colour from colour trends through to the psychology of colour and everything in between. To find out more here’s the link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-colourful-stylish-supper-club-brunch-at-hello-darling-tickets-74310521771.
If you would like to discover more about Emma’s colourful world, then head over to her Instagram @emmamtstylist,