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Colour my home: styling it dark

bold feature walls

I’m introducing a new interiors series “COLOUR MY HOME” for those of you, who love colour but are not confident in using it in your home. I believe that if you let colours into your life, it can be a serious confidence-booster. I brought Mairi Helena on board,  a seriously bold pattern designer and photographer, who is sharing her tips and experiences in designing a colourful home.

Over to you, Mairi… 

So last month we chatted about gaining confidence with colour and ideas on how you could introducing colour into your interior. We focused on working with moodboards, introducing colour with neutrals as well as talking texture and pattern. We played with adding accents of colour and touched upon bolder colour by throwing fuscia into the mix! And so this month we’re taking the theme of experimenting with bold colour that one stage further!  

Let’s chat bold feature walls, quirky wallpaper, styling it dark, pattern on pattern..the lot!

 Styling it dark has become bang on trend and one of the forerunners of this interior theme is the glorious designer and stylist Abigail Ahern with her eclectic, sensational style. I love her commitment to create the unexpected, her desire for “don’t play it safe” and her enthusiasm for styling impactful interiors. I have her book Decorating With Style,  which advocates “throwing out the rulebook”. As soon as I read this, I knew I was in good company. One of the pieces of advice I love in her book is that the key to turn a colour scheme into something phenomenal is to push it slightly, by considering hues that you might normally disregard…that’s the great thing about colour, your confidence grows the more you experiment”.

The day I learned to style against a dark background, was definitely a turning point for me. (As you can see on my Mairi Helena collection shoot.)


I get very excited by rooms that display a feature wall, whether that’s through using a statement wallpaper, a gallery of wall art or a boldly painted accent wall. I visited the fabulous G&V Hotel here in Edinburgh, a luxury five star hotel on the Royal Mile which oozes artisan charm and stylish interiors. The hotel decor is wonderfully inspiring and uplifting with colourful interior throughout. A particular favourite feature of mine is the G&V’s collection of superbly decorated luxury designer suites by locally talented artists. Take the Rooftop Rest Suite, for example below, a one-of-a-kind suite designed by local designer Christine Clark. I just love the way accents of turquoise blue and gold shine from the statement blue wall behind. Dark punchy walls help to give a room intensity and elegance as well as a feeling of mystery. Add a touch of the gold for a bit of glamour!

 I love the orange and red accent cushion in the corner helping to add a new colour dimension to the room interior. Colour combination to a tee!


I think working 3-4 main key colours into a room is a good number to aim for. Although I’m not one for rules…. and always encourage experimentation and exploring to develop your own style. I’ve just found that working with a base colour and 2-3 accent colours works for me and gives me an opportunity to play with colour without it being too crowded.


I’m always trying to find ways of adding textures into the room to add interest and tactility. Ideas for adding texture into bold coloured rooms could include a sumptuous fur or sheepskin throw draped across a snug piece of furniture, or perhaps a textured piece of striking wall art. Consider a very textured piece of art with an open frame so that you can touch the material.

And why stop at one piece (for the ‘more is more’ decor fanatic like me!). Consider layers of textiles and throws to build up texture or a feature wall of framed artwork to create a gallery wall. Or consider a wall art feature wall on top of a feature wall, as demonstrated here in the G&V Cecina Restaurant.


It always comes down to the detailing! Go wild and have fun with the styling. Play with colour accents. Experiment with scale, style and shape. Play with pattern on pattern. The G&V Cecina restaurant plays with pattern to perfection. From the impressive Timorous Beastie Wallpapered pillars, to the black and white patterned serving plates to the feature art wall to the shiny patterned chairs….it’s an interior dream. 


Pinterest is a wonderful tool for gathering inspiration. Start a board dedicated to chosen colour combinations and experiment with ideas. Visit local restaurants and artisan hotels and immerse yourself in luxury decor. Visit your local art gallery – London’s Fashion and Textile Museum have a fabulous display by artist and designer Josef Frank at the moment which I can guarantee will whet your appetite for printed textile and colour galore. 


Be your own designer. Whether you choose to decorate in gold wallpaper, paint the floor black, wallpaper the ceiling or fix an unlikely piece of furniture to the wall…do something a little quirky and a little bit different to help give your room a unique style and your own stamp. Perhaps you may choose to not stop at one colour on the wall and go for an unexpected colour combination? I’d encourage you to take the risk to do something unexpected!

So styling it dark….what do you think? A divine way to add a sense of mystery, elegance and sophistication? Allowing for fresh accents of bursting colour against inky walls? Pattern on pattern, does it get your vote? Wallpapering the unexpected, what are your thoughts..

I’m certainly hooked anyway. 

Until next time..

Mairi xx

Credits: Text and photography by Mairi Helena. Please follow Mairi on Instagram.