ELLE DECORATION // MARCH 2018
‘PEOPLE OFTEN SHY AWAY FROM USING BOLD SHADES IN SMALLER SPACES, BUT I THINK COLOUR MAKES A HOME MORE INVITING, GIVING EACH ROOM ITS OWN PERSONALITY’
A modest home that celebrates big colours? This east London flat’s owner, interior designer Laura Fulmine, has gleefully thrown away the decorating rule book
Words TESSA PEARSON Photography MICHAEL SINCLAIR
It’s hard to picture this now characterful two-bedroom apartment as an all-white space, but that’s exactly how it remained for two years while interior designer and stylist Laura Fulmine figured out exactly what she wanted to do with it. Laura, who lives with her partner, photographer John Short, moved into this modest east London home four years ago and spent a year doing it up. ‘I think it helps to live in a home for a while to get a feel for it, rather than rushing to decorate straight away,’ she says.
The 57-square-metre apartment is located on the first floor of a turn-of-the-last-century mansion block near Dalston, which immediately piqued Laura’s creative interest due to its red brick façade and large sash windows. ‘The layout of the flat itself is beautiful,’ she adds. ‘It has a spacious central hallway, around which the various rooms are spread, like the branches of a tree.’
Laura’s home was habitable when she moved in, but needed to be shown a bit of love. ‘I didn’t have a plan for the interior, it just evolved over time. I’m drawn to minimalist houses, but I could never live in one.’ The first task on the to-do list for this project was stripping the layers of paint from the original wooden doors, floors, skirting boards and window frames. ‘The windows in this apartment are amazing, but they seemed less striking when painted white. The natural wood makes a feature of them, and the neutral tone was easier to work with when deciding on colours for the walls.’ Deep, striking shades were, in part, chosen to brilliantly complement Laura’s curated mixture of antiques. ‘I have a love of Italian design from the 1950s to the 80s, and I like pairing pieces that may not obviously go together,’ she says.
THE COLOUR SCHEME
‘Despite this home’s small proportions, I was keen to use daring colours to define the various spaces,’ Laura explains. ‘Particularly as the flat is on a corner, so the sun travels round to each room throughout the day.’ To this end, the kitchen is painted bright white to make the most of the morning light, while, in contrast, the bedroom, that only gets the sun at the very end of the day, is a moody midnight blue. ‘Pale shades can feel cold in a room that doesn’t get much daylight. This blue makes more of the darkness, and it’s very calming and therapeutic,’ she says.
This bedroom was, in fact, painted a total of three times before ‘Hicks Blue’ by Little Greene was decided upon, and just as many varieties of green were deliberated over until the perfect chalky, mossy hue of ‘Crocodile’ from Colours by B&Q made its way onto the living room walls. ‘I’m obsessed with green. I have a lot of marble and brass, which it pairs with perfectly,’ adds Laura.
The heritage-inspired ‘Café Pink’ by Sanderson Paints, used in the study, was selected after a trip to London’s Victoria & Albert museum, when the landmark’s style struck a chord. ‘I think that colour makes a home inviting and you become more conscious of moving between different zones,’ says Laura. ‘It can actually make a place feel bigger.’ laurafulmine.com
HOW TO USE UNEXPECTED COLOUR TO ENHANCE SMALL-SPACE LIVING
Interior designer Laura Fulmine shares the essential things to remember when using statement shades
EXPERIMENT You don’t have to get it right first time. Rectifying an unsuccessful paint job is much easier than it might seem, particularly when there’s less wall to cover.
LOOK TO THE LIGHT Assess the effect of natural and artificial light on the colours you’re considering. Paint swatches on paper and place them in areas of sunlight, as well as shady alcoves.
CREATE A VISUAL PALATE CLEANSER Too much colour can be overwhelming in a compact home. Balance out bold shades with calmer areas decorated in whites or soft neutrals.
DECLUTTER Whatever colour you choose, filling a house with lots of stuff is going to have an impact on how big it feels. Invest in built-in storage and only display favourite things.
CONSIDER COLOUR PSYCHOLOGY Your chosen palette can affect how you feel, which is intensified in a small home. It’s worth looking into the emotional effects of different shades before choosing, taking into account how you use your space.