More is More
by Siobhan Murphy
EMBRACE MAXIMALISM WITH INTERIOR DESIGNER SIOBHAN MURPHY
When I’m designing a space, my main aim is simple: to create spaces that people love to hang out in. I believe our homes should be functional, beautiful and full of personality.
I would describe my style as colourful, playful maximalism. I take the ‘more is more’ approach to most things in life and especially when it comes to interior design.
I like to see walls and ceilings adorned with colour and pattern and beautiful artwork, windows dressed in swags and tails, surfaces lovingly styled with trinkets and treasure. I don’t understand minimalism because I like beautiful objects, texture, pattern and print. I like my rooms to be all-consuming, with vignettes and points of interest at every turn, telling a story and creating a space that makes people smile. I’m a sociable creature and I love people, so I particularly enjoy designing spaces that facilitate socialising, and creating rooms that have a side order of fun.
If you love it then it can’t be wrong
Our homes should reflect our personalities. It’s so important to decorate with your heart; be brave and be bold. I always say if you love it then it can’t be wrong!
Add a splash of colour
Colour means everything to me and I love to surround myself with it at all times. I think adding colour to a room is the most transformative thing we can do. There are so many options, like painting or wallpapering the walls or adding a pop of colour via soft furnishings such as rugs, curtains, cushions and throws.
If you love a particular colour then why not introduce it into your home? When considering a room refresh, start by thinking about the colours you are instantly drawn to. It might be the colour of your favourite lipstick, a dress that you love, a piece of artwork or the colour of the ocean. Start small, maybe with cushions, throws or artwork.
Then, once you are used to seeing a bit more colour around the place, you may want to be brave and paint a ceiling, feature wall or even the whole room in the same colour.
Play around with patterns and prints
All my clients know that I love colour, pattern and print, so I haven’t been asked to design any neutral, minimalist homes just yet! I really enjoy exploring colour and pattern with clients, identifying the colours and patterns that spark joy for them, but also considering what will work best in their space. I think my job as an interior designer is to create spaces that make people feel something, so my first question to my client is: how do you want to FEEL in the room? Relaxed? Energised? Calm? Happy? Restful? I start with a feeling and go from there.
I will always encourage my clients to really go for it – the bolder the better! I think that every space should have at least one element of pattern in it, otherwise a scheme can look really flat. Patterns can be introduced in various ways; wallpaper is an obvious one, but you should also think about how you can introduce pattern in an unusual way. I have to admit I’m partial to a wallpapered ceiling to add a bit of drama. Consider a patterned carpet – I’ve just added a zebra carpet in my lounge at home and I love the drama and impact it has created.
Something old… antiques and vintage pieces
It’s the little details that make a space, telling a story about who we are. I think every room needs to have a few old items in it to ground the entire scheme. If everything is new it just looks a bit too polished, e.g. pieces from charity shops, car boot sales, flea markets and antique fairs. I get such a thrill when I find the perfect pieces for a scheme I’m working on. Objects that tell a story or have seen a bit of life really interest me and can act as a talking point, too. Old books are great to use when styling coffee tables and shelving; anything with an aged patina looks fabulous against more modern pieces. Heirlooms should be displayed rather than hidden away, so if you have a piece of furniture or trinkets that have been handed down, find the perfect place to display them. I always encourage people to reupholster heirloom pieces to give them a new lease of life.
Art can really change a room and give a totally different look and feel to a space. Think of the pink room at Sketch in London: it could have looked sickly sweet, but the addition of contemporary artwork made the space instantly cool and interesting.
Art has many forms, and you don’t need to spend a fortune on it – there are lots of clever ways you can introduce art, such as with a beautifully framed poster or print. I often buy art books and frame the images to create gallery walls as it works out cheaper than buying prints. A gallery wall is a great way to display an array of personal objects that evoke good memories: postcards, photographs, gig posters, handwritten notes, album covers, sketches and doodles look great when displayed as a collection.
Display collections, memorabilia and achievements
Embrace the unusual, the weird and the wonderful. Our homes are a space where we can showcase the things that bring us joy. I love a collection and have been an avid collector for as long as I can remember. Badges, stickers, rubbers, barbie clothes… I collected everything as a kid! Nowadays I’m a bit more choosy – I collect ceramics, linens, beautiful objects, interior books and, of course, cushions! I also collect costume jewellery.
I display it in little trinket dishes around my dressing room and it nudges me to remember to wear it, too.
Nothing is random in this process… unless you want it to be.
I think that if you have spent time collecting and curating then why not display your collection beautifully so that you can appreciate it every day!
One of the myths about maximalism is that you just throw everything at it, but that’s not true. Being a maximalist is in my nature I have been a collector from an early age – a magpie seeking out beautiful things – but anyone can create an eclectic space. Start by looking at Pinterest and interior magazines for inspiration, then get your hands on some paint chips, fabric and wallpaper samples.
Add in some quirky pieces
I love a talking point – something in a scheme that’s a bit quirky, a bit random or just plain weird. A bit of ugly in a room can actually be really beautiful. I love vintage jugs and vases, especially bulbous, ugly and hand painted ones that I pick up from car boot sales and charity shops. I also love hand ornaments, which I collect and display around the home. Have a think about things that you find visually appealing and, next time you’re shopping, pick something up to add into your scheme.
Use your wardrobe as a starting point
It might be because of my love for fashion, but if I’m struggling for colour inspiration I often start with my wardrobe. I think what we wear can really reflect our personality. Our homes are an extension of this and another way to say to the world, ‘this is who I am’. As you can imagine, my wardrobe is bursting at the seams with animal prints, bright, flamboyant colours and pattern upon pattern – so have a look at yours and see what jumps out.
These quirky pieces make me smile every time I see them and they perfectly showcase my colourful personality.
People always ask me how they can be braver with colour and pattern in their own homes and I always ask them to start by pulling together some inspiration. Have a think about what colours and patterns you are drawn to, and remember to have a look in your wardrobe! I always encourage people to pull together a moodboard. Use Pinterest as a starting point and pin all your ideas, then refine and refine until you have a design you are happy with. Order paint chips, fabric and wallpaper samples and see how they all work together before deciding. Remember that colours can look different in different lights and at various times if the day.
Lighting is a great way to add personality into your room. I like to have a selection of table lamps, floor lamps and task lighting in a room. I’m also partial to a candle or two to create a really lovely ambience.
There are so many fabulous and unusual lamps these days! I like anything bright and colourful; I have a selection of animal lamps around my home, a pair of swan lights in the hallway, a giraffe in the lounge and a huge horse’s head in the landing! These quirky pieces make me smile every time I see them and they perfectly showcase my colourful personality.
When styling up an area I always like to add plants, foliage or flowers. Plants add a bit of colour and soften the space, especially when placed on or next to hard surfaces like ceramics and glass. I tend to group objects in odd numbers. Ones, threes and fives work really well and add more visual interest to your schemes.
Great design begins when inspiration, imagination and a willingness to experiment collide… that’s when the real magic happens. If you have seen a piece of furniture you like but don’t have the budget then get crafty and create your own.
It’s amazing what a bit of paint, some wallpaper and a bit of gold leaf can achieve. Sites like Gumtree, eBay and Facebook Marketplace are great spots to pick up furniture for a real bargain price! Look for unusual shapes and nice, old, solid pieces that can either be sanded down and oiled or painted to give you the look you want.
More is More Decor by Siobhan Murphy is out now. RRP £25 (Studio Press).
NorthernLife Sept/Oct 22