Monday 23 September 2019

Forget Hygge and Scandi minimalism, this autumn it's all about maximalism

Move over greige. Colour, pattern and a sense of exuberance are back. But how do you get the luxuriant look without going overboard? Three of Ireland's top interior designers let Fran Power in on the tricks of their trade.

More is more for autumn — seen here in Brodsworth — Empress wallpaper and skirtings painted in Marine Blue 95; both at Littlegreene.com
More is more for autumn — seen here in Brodsworth — Empress wallpaper and skirtings painted in Marine Blue 95; both at Littlegreene.com
Wallpaper is Glastonbury Stripe by Cole & Son, €90 per roll; dust.ie
Layer your look with tones of the same colour — here Lisa used Dark Teal by Benjamin Moore
Get playful with flooring; dining room walls in Fleetwood’s Wynwood
Croisette chair in rose gold; dust.ie
Polished plaster in this Marrakesh-style bathroom designed by Roisin Lafferty
Timber cladding on hall wall at Marianella, Dublin 6, by Cairn Homes; interior design by KLD
Isaac shearling and leather chair by love-your-home.co.uk, £1,437
Cup in pink grapefruit, €33; arranstreeteast.ie.
Farrow & Ball’s Calamine
Units painted in Harley Green 312 by littlegreene.com

Fran Power

The strange thing about trends is that one moment you're laughing up your sleeve at that orange swirly carpet, and the next you're proudly unfurling one at home. Somehow without realising it, orange swirls have become a possibility. And you don't know when you crossed the line from loathing the new look to loving it.

So be warned - interiors is in the middle of a major shift. A changing sensibility is already all around you and before long you may be moving on from all things hygge."We have spent so long in the minimalist Scandi world," says Lisa Marconi, one half of design duo Dust.ie, "that we want the opposite now." There is a sense that the recession is gone, austerity is over, the economy is lifting. "People want to live large," says Lisa, "and they are embracing life."

And that means maximalism, she says. Splashes of bold colour, pattern, high-gloss paint and shiny surfaces are all slipping in the front door.

Amanda Sawyer, owner of Limerick store Irish Girl in Brooklyn, agrees. "We are in a transition period - people are always looking for something new but I think we're going to move into a different style. We're moving from the minimalist Scandi look to something more comfortable.

"To me, it's more organic but with a bit more sophistication creeping in, and moving away from the very simple to a look that is more decorative. We're seeing more layers, more textures like wool, boucle, natural materials and then that is layered up with jewel tones, or cushions, throws and colourful accessories."

For award-winning designer Roisin Lafferty of Kingston Lafferty Design, there's "a draw back towards natural elegance, the earthy tones and materials that have a warmth and a richness and are quality but are also timeless."

So how do you add colour, pattern and pizzazz but stay the right side of Liberace's boudoir? Our experts unpack the season's trend and advise on smart ways to get the look.

1. Stripes are big (literally)

"Stripes are timeless and fun," says Lisa Marconi one half of design duo Dust.ie, "and using bright colours gives them a modern update. Black and white has a huge impact, while hot pink and white looks amazing."

The more cautious could use them in the hall or bathroom, but Lisa is a fan of going all out and striping up your sitting room. "It can make your ceilings look higher but it is all about impact and it's a really easy way to get the maximalist look. Think about the thickness of the strips and make them vertical. Take them right up to the ceiling," says Lisa. "It's such a cool look."

Scandi lovers might need some persuading, but Lisa likes to use stripes as a backdrop. "Mixing more patterns against stripes is amazing. You can put contrasting colours against them and that can look fun. But," she admits, "it can be too much for some people and it is easy to get wrong. If you put a sofa in a contrasting pattern up against stripes, it can be difficult to make work. Stick to bringing in some bright colours, maybe a sofa in bright pink - for that Memphis look - will give the room a real graphic feel."

The easiest way to get the look is by using wallpaper but, Lisa points out, that can be expensive. So if you're handy, the trick is to use strips of frog tape to block off 10cm- or 15cm-wide vertical stripes from floor to ceiling, and get to work with a paint brush. Fleetwood 'Pink Popsicle' or Farrow & Ball's 'Rangwali' are good shades to use.

2. Matchy matchy is back

But this time round, says Lisa, "it's the slick 21st century update on the 1980s look. Instead of just matching your lampshade and cushions, you're matching your walls to your sofa. Layer up the same colours on the walls and on your big ticket items, such as sofa, chairs and woodwork. Everything is in the same tone and it creates real impact."

Top tip? "Pick a colour you like, obviously. Teal is great. Try Benjamin Moore Dark Teal or Old Navy and lift the look with a couple of contrasting accessories like a lamp or cushion."

Lisa likes to go all out and paint the ceiling too, though she admits that might be overwhelming in some rooms. "Take the plunge," she says, "and if you're going to do it, do it properly. Commit to it - if you don't you won't pull it off."

3. Fanciful floors

"Wood floors are timeless," says Roisin Lafferty of Kingston Lafferty Design (KLD), "but we're being more playful now with how they are actually made." That means, for example, making them more interesting by looking at the wood grains, mixing and matching patterns, but staining all the wood the same colour. "It also means you can create really nice borders," says Roisin. "You can, for example, do a tiled inset and frame it with timber. It gives you a lot of flexibility."

Any good hacks? "A lot of flooring companies such as Woodies now do panels of certain sizes of wood flooring, maybe 1sqm, so you could use a panel to highlight a corridor and then add parquet around the side, or differentiate zones in the kitchen or living room."

4. Inside and out

Flexible furniture that has more than one purpose, or works both outdoors and indoors is making a mark - often in natural materials. "Wicker, rope and metal all feature strongly," says Lisa. "It's the idea of furniture that can be used inside or outside." She points to The Croisette chair as a perfect example - it is used on the terrace at the Hoxton Hotel in Paris but, she says, it looks just as beautiful inside. Plump it up with luxe, velvet cushions for indoors and hardwearing fabrics outdoors.

5. Polished plaster

We've seen concrete floors, kitchens and furniture. Now, Roisin Lafferty, who is known for her edgy designs, is seeing - and using - polished plaster more and more. "It has a gorgeous chalky feel. The good thing is it is really durable, you don't have to repaint it. It also feels really soft, so although people might think of it as a cold, hard surface it actually feels really warm.

"It's quite a specialist item and can be expensive to get but there are two clever hacks. First, you can use an exterior wall render which still gives that nice raw feel. You can get it in all different tones of grey. Or second, you can also add sand to texture paint so then the world is your oyster when it comes to colour options, but you have a really nice texture. It gives a much different feel, a kind of dusty softness."

For a rougher look, use a coarser sand; for a softer touch, use a light sand. Experiment with how much texture you like.

"Which rooms? I think the more, the better. It's a durable product and works really well in the kitchen and hall. Mortex do a waterproof product that means you can do a whole bathroom which is really cool."

6. Timber cladding

Wall panels have been a big trend, but the look is developing, says Roisin. "This is a more contemporary take," she says, "with vertical slatted timber in both natural and painted wood." It's an update on the Victorian dado wall and gives character to bland hallways or spaces that may not have period features.

If you don't mind a little DIY, she suggests a cheap and easy way to achieve it. Use off-the-shelf batons of timber from the hardware shop, and fix directly to the wall, leaving narrow gaps between. The batons and gaps are painted in whatever shade you like. "It's a very inexpensive way to get the sleek look," says Roisin.

7. Boucle chairs and sofas

"It's a big trend," says Amanda Sawyer of Irish Girl in Brooklyn (irishgirlinbrooklyn.com), "but it's a very hard trend to live with." Queen of the look is Gwyneth Paltrow, whose cream Boucle Chair (€899; cb2.com), is part of the furniture line she launched last year. It is, she says, "proof that things don't have to be cold and hard to be chic". However, according to Amanda, "I don't know how the look transfers in reality - I think it's very beautiful but it's for the good room." Instead, she recommends upholstering in shearling: "It would be longer wearing, it's better. Admire the boucle but go for shearling." If you can stretch to it, Gwyneth does a shearling version at €3,178.04; cb2.com. Or you can opt for an Isaac Chair (£1,430 upholstered in shearling and sheepskin leather; love-your-home.co.uk).

8. Pottery replaces china

"Cups, plates and tableware seem to be moving to a more rustic finish," says Amanda.

At the lower end of the price range, Helen James's Considered has blush pink cups in muted glazes. On the higher end of the scale, Arran Street East, has handcrafted stoneware, such as this cup in pink grapefruit, €33; arranstreeteast.ie.

9. Blush pink

"People are holding fast to shades of grey," says Amanda, "but we're definitely going to see that go because the jewel tones coming in don't work with it." She is a fan of pink but warns: "Think of this not as a pink, but as a blush or a tint rather then the colour - Farrow & Ball's Calamine, say. Think pink with a beige undertone instead of hot pink."

It works better in some rooms than others. The sitting room, says Amanda, or the bathroom is a perfect place. "This sounds so pretentious but Coco Chanel said you should always paint a bathroom pink because you will look better in the light. I think it's an interesting colour in the room, it can be a neutral and works really well with woods and natural tones."

10. Kitchen cabinets go bold

Blue and black kitchen cabinets are popular now, says Amanda, but green is coming in as are other strong colours. She painted her own kitchen mustard yellow recently. "If you're going to do colour in a cabinet, you have to tone down the colour everywhere else," she says, "so decide if you are willing to have everything else be monochromatic or white. Are you willing to give up on some other thing - a bright splashback, coloured stools or worktop - that you want?"

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