Design line: Keep it colourful, clean and pristine

By Terry Lobb

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Co-ordinate fabrics, while mixing and matching patterns.
Co-ordinate fabrics, while mixing and matching patterns.

I've spent time recently working in Rotorua and Auckland and enjoying our stunning landscape on the way through.

While in Auckland I went with colleagues to the Autumn Gift Fair and looked at new products and trends for clients.

It is important to keep up to date with fashion for the coming seasons, and nice to see so much colour coming through.

For too long we have stuck to beige and grey, but now we are seeing fresh, clearer palettes.

It was interesting to see what is available for accessorising our homes.

Some are definitely fads and will come and go quickly - you will look at them and say "Yes, that is what we did in 2014", as many of us remember past trends.

With the gift fair in mind, I thought I would go over a few points to think about when looking at our homes. Some of us have a very personal style and know exactly what we want in our homes, but most of us prefer an eclectic style, whether by design or not.

Do take time to discover your personal style. Read books and magazines. Look in design stores, think about the colours, fabrics and textures you like to have around you.

Do purchase large elements first, such as big furniture items, drapes, rugs, and so on. This will help determine your style and colour choices.

Do identify your room's focal point. This might be the bed, a fireplace or even the view. Too many focal points create unrest so think about it carefully.

Do co-ordinate fabric and flooring choices before making any major purchases, and especially before choosing your paint colours. Paint for your walls should be your last decision.

Do mix patterns. Make your rooms interesting by adding large and small scale patterns, checks, stripes, and floral patterns to your furnishings and wall treatments. It doesn't need to be over the top, but when done well it looks great.

Do consider carefully the function of the room before starting. Do you want a theme room, is it dual purpose, what sort of atmosphere do you want to create? Plan your spaces carefully so that you get the most benefit out of your home.

Do purchase the best quality furniture you can afford. Look at its construction and materials. Will it go the distance or is the construction cheap and cheerful and will need replacing in a couple of years? Which is the more cost effective? Also be aware that our sun is harsh and products do fade. There are new fabrics coming on the market all the time to help combat fading, but it is never fail-safe.

Don't paint your walls then go out looking for fabrics to match.

Don't paint a room without trying a sample of colour in the room. Test pots are cheap. And always paint the sample colour on a piece of card so it can be moved around the room and never on the wall. If you decide you don't like the colour because it is too bright or too deep, you may not be able to paint over it successfully. There's no point in creating more work for yourself. Never look at two or three colours together unless you intend using all those colours together.

Don't choose colours standing in a store. Take the colours home to try. Lighting texture and pattern all play a part in choosing the right colour, even if you are looking at an exterior colour. Your home doesn't look like the car park of the paint shop; it is usually softened by landscaping or may have light or colour reflected from a neighbouring property.

Don't keep something you hate. You don't have to keep that hideous old purple chair from Aunty Greta. (Aunty Greta was a real person, but she didn't have a purple chair - her taste was more classic). Get it re-covered in something you like and make it a feature. Or maybe you just want it to melt away in the background.

Don't decorate around items that just aren't "you". If you can't stand those expensive curtains that your husband's former wife lovingly sewed when they were first married - get rid of them! The room will never work if you hate them, no matter how many options you try.

These are just a few things to think about when you're looking at your living spaces for a revamp or total overhaul.

Terry Lobb is an interior/kitchen designer and personal colour and style consultant who takes a holistic approach to living with colour, texture and style - email:;


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