Live a Little: Pro Advice on How to Be More Daring in Your Design
After seeing Emily Murray’s house tour — filled with a bold mix of patterns and tons of bright colors — I asked her if she was worried about ever getting tired of all the bold design elements. Her response? “I have some excellent Chloe sunglasses if I ever need to escape the glare.”
I like the way she thinks — and designs. If you want a home as bold as hers in 2017, get your sunglasses ready, because her advice will add some bright ideas to your space.
Emily is the founder of The Pink House, and after moving to Edinburgh from London, she wanted to infuse her home with the excitement and boldness of the city she lived in for 10 years. I first asked her where she gets inspiration for her daring designs:
“It differs from room to room. Sometimes it’s a favorite painting that inspires the colors — like in our family living room; that’s where the green, orange and blue with touches of yellow scheme came from. In others it can be a gorgeous wallpaper (like the Timorous Beasties Butterfly paper in my bedroom). And then sometimes the whole scheme is inspired by a space I’ve seen on Instagram, Pinterest, or one of my favorite blogs or magazines — that’s how my white, grey and gold bathroom came about.”
“When it comes to choosing colors, just go with what makes you happy.”
The optimal amount of colors in a bold color palette:
My first tip would be to make sure your color palette is big enough. Only two colors makes a room look boring and too matchy-matchy. Three colours is better and more interesting, but I like to have four colors in mind, even if two are the main colors and the others accents. This stops a room looking too contrived and feels more natural.
The secret to choosing colors you’ll be happy with:
When it comes to choosing colors, just go with what makes you happy. A good rule of thumb is to start with a base color of the hue you like to wear most — often something fairly neutral. Then look at the rest of your wardrobe — which colors are you naturally drawn to? Chances are you’ll feel happy with those in your home, too.
“I think most people would be surprised by how out-there you can be with pattern clashing, while still maintaining an attractive, cohesive look.”
As for creating a home that’s cohesive from room to room, to be honest I don’t really think about that. I like each room to have its own colors and personality, but because I’m the one designing each room, it naturally will feel cohesive to a certain extent anyway. My ideal house is one in which people get a nice surprise — and a different vibe — in every room.
How TO pattern clash:
I think most people would be surprised by how out-there you can be with pattern clashing, while still maintaining an attractive, cohesive look. There’s been a lot of trial and error — sometimes I’ll put patterns together and just think ‘argh!’, but other times patterns and colors I don’t think will work together just somehow do. My main inspiration when it comes to being bold with pattern and color combinations is Kit Kemp. I love the Firmdale Hotel group and study Kemp’s room designs to try and work out why the patterns work together.
“And who cares? It’s all about having fun and seeing how things make you feel. Life’s too short to play it safe, especially in your home.”
It’s generally quite an organic process. I’m naturally drawn to pattern and color, and can’t resist buying cushions and other home decor items that are bright and bold. Then I have to find ways of making them work together. There are a fair few things that don’t make the cut and find themselves consigned to the store room, or occasionally the charity shop. I prefer to keep as much as I can, even if I don’t have a place for it right then, though — you never know when a new member of the cushion family might enter and form a relationship with that yellow zig-zag rug!
The only design rule to remember:
Very loosely, I would match a large pattern with a smaller scale print. And I try not to let TOO many colors get involved. But I often fail. And who cares? It’s all about having fun and seeing how things make you feel. Life’s too short to play it safe, especially in your home. And with your hair — which is why I dyed it pink!