Interior Style

7 steps to help you transform a neutral room into one with personality

Creating a room that looks and feels like ‘you’ can seem a little daunting. Stylist Amber Armitage shows how a simple step-by-step approach can produce the ideal balance of style and personality

1. Start with a neutral foundation

+ Many of us dream of a clean, minimal aesthetic and this look can certainly feel like a breath of fresh air. However, if you’re craving a space that feels authentic and tells a story about you and your family, layering is the best way to go.

+ If you start with a versatile base of sofa, rug and coffee table in neutral tones, adding your personality is simply a matter of applying colour and detail.

2. Develop your look

Start by asking yourself:

+ How do you want your home to feel (not just look) and how will others feel in the space?

+ What activities will take place in this room? This will dictate what furniture and storage you will need. + What do you want your home to say about your family? What are your values?

+ What colours and textures do you love?

+ What objects, photos, furniture, heirlooms or art do you have that would work in this space?

3. Have a play

+ Grab a notebook and start writing down your ideas and what is important to you and your family.

+ Choose some paint testpots and begin playing around with colours you like – make sure you have a selection of light, fun shades and something with a bit more depth.

+ Think about plants and beautiful accessories that could be incorporated.

4. Update old furniture and heirlooms

+ Before running out to buy new things, have a look around and see if you have any hidden gems that could be updated. The chairs pictured above were pulled out of an old commercial building by my dad and had been sitting around unused. With a coat of Resene ‘Alabaster’ they have become really interesting pieces of furniture.

+ After adding in an oil painting of the Coromandel, purchased from the artist 20 years ago, this space is starting to feel unique.

+ A couple of plants in contemporary pots and a collection of recent reads complete the look.

5. Create a display

+ A few shelves filled with books, artwork and family photos will completely change the feel of your room. Not only are floating shelves a practical storage solution, they enable you to illustrate what your family is all about – art, mementos, trophies and special moments captured.

+ We created a warm colour palette to highlight our display corner. Shelves painted in Resene ‘Just Right’ are enhanced by a colour block in Resene ‘Soulful’, with a box shelf painted in Resene ‘Sunbaked’ on the adjacent wall tying the tonal look together.

+ At a later date, simply change the colours for an instant refresh.

6. Go bold with deep tones

+ A statement wall like this one in Resene ‘King Tide’ can be a real game-changer. If you’re new to using bold colours, there’s no need to start with your main wall. Why not dip your toe in by painting a side wall instead? A strong colour like this can really bring your art and photos to life.

A favourite painting can also be a great way to choose a palette – just pick a few tones from the artwork, then find accessories in the same colours.

If your couch is neutral, be brave with your cushion choices by mixing up colour, shape and pattern.

Start by asking yourself: how do I want my home to feel (not just look)

and how will others feel in the space?

7. Add art with meaning

+ We can use our homes to make deliberate statements about ourselves, reflecting our goals, values and priorities. Family photos and images of your travels or favourite moments are a great reminder of what’s important to you and your loved ones.

+ Relating to the art and imagery on the walls on a personal level – knowing the story behind each one and why you love it – is another way to feel connected to your space. + The colours, style or mood of artworks can also help you tie a look together or highlight hues from your favourite accessories.

The final look

Our homes can be alive and buzzing with colour and personality while still feeling refined and sophisticated. What works for you and your family will change, so it’s important to choose things that can develop with you. Shelving and storage that can be altered or added to, paint colours that can be easily updated, and a strong neutral base are all worthwhile investments that can grow and change with you.

Words & styling by: Amber Armitage. Photography by: Wendy Fenwick.

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