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A fashion stylist brings an expert eye for colour to her Grey Lynn home

Fashion stylist Lulu Wilcox works on the theory that interiors and fashion are interconnected. Step inside her colourful and artfully curated Grey Lynn home

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Meet and greet

Andrew Wilcox, property developer, Lulu Wilcox, celebrity stylist, Julia, 9, and Suzi-Lou, 4, plus pets Pookie Bear and Chow Chow.

Background

In 2013, Andrew and Lulu Wilcox were on the hunt for an investment property, focusing their search on the fringes of Auckland’s city centre.

A few months in, they viewed a property in Grey Lynn – a small, run-down bungalow with a large, flat, sunny back section with potential for subdivision. This immediately caught property developer Andrew’s attention (the site would eventually accommodate eight homes). For Lulu, though, the bungalow was less alluring.

She could see the potential of the section and was happy to go ahead with the purchase, but knew it would be a challenge to get the house habitable. “We would be living here for a couple of years, so I wanted to create as much space as possible without spending too much money on the interior,” she explains.

The site

The rear section with its northwest aspect sees all-day sun and was a huge drawcard for the couple – for investment purposes and also, in the interim, as a wonderful play area for their two young daughters, Julia and Suzi-Lou.

The interior of the basic little bungalow was in serious need of a makeover. The low ceilings, unpolished timber floors, threadbare carpet and small bathroom with separate toilet were all obvious areas to tackle.

Andrew and Lulu could both see that opening up the back of the house to the large rear lawn would transform the place. “The idea of creating indoor-outdoor living by installing French doors and a veranda was very appealing to us,” says Lulu.

The separate garage behind the bungalow was also identified as ripe with possibility, with the pair visualising it as a stylish, self-contained unit (this is now tenanted, providing the couple with a little extra income).

The project

With Andrew working in the property industry, the couple didn’t require any input from outside specialists. “Andrew has all the skills required for a renovation, so we were very lucky,” says Lulu.

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“We didn’t need to engage with architects, builders or project managers – only Auckland Council. Andrew did everything!” During the two-month project the family lived nearby with Andrew’s parents and Lulu visited the site regularly to monitor progress.

The interior renovation wasn’t extensive. The small bathroom was opened up by removing the wall separating it from the toilet. The result is a large, contemporary family bathroom which feels light and airy.

At the rear, new French doors were installed off the open-plan living, kitchen and dining room. These open onto extensive new decking, with steps leading onto the lawn. “We entertain a lot, so it was incredibly important for us to feel part of the outdoor activity while preparing food indoors,” says Lulu.

Aside from these changes, the rest of the transformation was cosmetic, with every wall painted or wallpapered, built-in cabinetry installed in the living room and floorboards polished throughout.

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The interior

As a fashion stylist, Lulu works on the theory that interiors and fashion are interconnected – both require texture, colour and coordination to create a polished and balanced look. She has drawn clear parallels between clothing and decor, artfully introducing beautiful bursts of colour throughout her home. “The experience of styling a person is, for me, a hugely similar experience to styling a room,” she explains.

“I shop for a living and work for magazines, so I’m always surrounded by beautiful items.” She says her style changes often and she’s strongly influenced by trends in fabrics, prints and colour. “I love mixing it up but I am quite definite about what I like and where I source from.”

Wanting blue and something with wow factor for the hallway, Lulu approached Paper Room for a bold wallpaper – and adores the geometric pattern she settled on. “Once it was hung, I was a little nervous I may have closed the space in – but now I love it,” she says. “It feels very ‘Versace’.”

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Lulu’s style

Lulu has combined her love of religious objects, treasures from her travels and a mix of white, bolds and pastels to create an interior that is as quirky and eclectic as it is stylish.

She’s not one for minimalism and the open shelves in the kitchen and living room were a deliberate choice to showcase items brought home from adventures overseas. They also signal her love of bold colours and how she likes to gather items of different shapes and sizes to generate interest in a room.

The other thing you’ll note about Lulu and Andrew’s home is that it’s full of beautiful, lush leaves. “Gemma from Flora n Fauna helped me select our potted greenery,” says Lulu. “House plants are a great way of adding freshness and texture to any space and I love to bring the outside in and add life to interior spaces.”

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Kids’ rooms

Just like their mother, Julia and Suzi-Lou are fans of colour. Suzi-Lou’s love of “everything sweet” was the theme for her room and – despite being only 4 – she chose her own paint colour. “She was like the mouse that roared, with her list of wants,” jokes Lulu.

Big sister Julia also picked her own palette: lavender and Tiffany blue. A hacienda chair picked up on a recent holiday to Mexico doubles as a bedside table, as well as adding a punch of colour.

To help coordinate the rooms contrasting colours, Lulu handmade Julia’s headboard, upholstering it with $2-a-metre fabric from Spotlight. “It’s not how much you spend, but how you style it that makes a space look polished,” explains Lulu.

A little luxe

Like most parents, Andrew and Lulu’s bedroom is their sanctuary. It is a place of calm amid the chaos that inevitably comes with living with young children. A calming colour palette was key when deciding to decorate their room; however, with their bedroom opening off the boldly wallpapered hallway, Lulu also wanted to make an equally strong statement in her bedroom.

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The calming hue of Dulux ‘Kellands Pond’ was an inspired choice as it works harmoniously with the geometric wallpaper, but contrasts beautifully with the pale pink headboard and pendant light. “I have had the headboard for years,” explains Lulu. “I had it made in China – it’s one of my statement props that I use on many shoots.”

The end

Pulling together an interior is like pulling together an outfit; it’s the finer details that count. Lulu’s decorating advice is simple: don’t be afraid to express yourself. “Your home is your home so don’t stage it to appeal to others,” she says. “It absolutely needs to be comfortable, restful and functional – and, most of all, it needs to reflect the personalities of those who live there.”

Words by: Annick Larkin. Photography by: Helen Bankers.

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