10 interior style secrets from New Zealand’s favourite experts

We get insider secrets and tips from 10 of our favourite designers, decorators and boutique owners on how to make a bold statement with your decor

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1. Karen Warman, Resene 

If you’re new to using colour, the easiest place to be brave is with things you can change easily, such as your paint finish.

Colour blocking is a popular way to combine a palette of favourite shades into one space. Rather than choosing one colour, choose three or more. Tape a pattern on your wall using low-tack masking tape, and paint each area with a different colour.

If you love bold colour, the sky’s the limit. Floors, ceilings, walls and furniture can all be brightened with paint. While feature walls are still popular, it is becoming increasingly common to use colour beyond one wall. You can choose to have it flow from wall to ceiling, partway between two walls, or have a large block of colour undefined by walls altogether.

Wallpaper is another popular way to add colour, texture and design. One feature wall decorated with wallpaper, contrasted by a complementary Resene paint colour on adjacent walls, can transform a space. You can also use wallpaper in place of artwork.

2. Stephen Bradbourne, Monmouth Glass

The right kind of lighting can make a real statement and have a huge impact on the feel of a space. People come to us because they want a statement piece that is functional and stunning to look at. A lot of people are opting for multiples  – pendant lights in clusters or groups of three, five or seven.


We also have clients on a budget who will hang a single pendant over the dining table, which can be equally as stunning. Lately, we’ve noticed people have been decorating rooms minimally and introducing colour through the use of feature lighting.

Glass is an excellent vehicle to transmit colour with its myriad of reflective and translucent properties. When people do use colour they’re opting for subtle and muted tones – variations on greys, greens and browns are big at the moment.

3. Simon James, Simon James Design

Our residential colour palette tends to be fairly muted, but a hint of the right colour can make a bold statement in the home. The Osso chair from Mattiazzi (below left) has a unique range of finishes (created using stains rather than flat lacquers) that will challenge most spaces while adding warmth.


We are also finding more clients are willing to make a statement with feature lighting. With the continued development of LED lighting, forms are becoming more and more complex as designers understand the possibilities further. These pendants are now being used in open spaces such as entryways or dining rooms.

4. Denise Waller, Martha’s Fabrics

Introducing fabric into your home is a fantastic way to freshen a room, add personality, celebrate the change of season or make a bold statement. Textiles help to make the environment warmer to the eye and also improve acoustics, making modern rooms feel more homely.

Nothing makes a statement like stunning curtains or a chair recovered in a bold fabric. Most people’s homes evolve over time and we are seeing more people creating eclectic interiors.


Hanging drops of fabric off metal clips as either statement pieces or room dividers is a growing trend and a fast way to add impact to a room.

Cushions, throws and poufs are always popular at Martha’s as they are an instant, cost-effective way of adding colour and texture.

5. Eden Hessell, The Botanist 

Arranging flowers en masse with complementary foliage can make any void in a room come alive. For a more effective statement, I prefer to use only a couple of varieties of flowers. I also use tonnes of texture to amp up the arrangement.


That way, you can be bold while still keeping it simple. Choose flowers that will complement an artwork or rug in the room you are displaying them in. I like to have one vase of flowers with foliage in a room, and another with just foliage.

6. Alex Fulton, Alex Fulton Design

I like to hang prints, pictures, plates and photographs together in a beautiful, cohesive, ordered group. They probably shouldn’t go together but they do because they are all things you love. They don’t have to be in the same frames or from the same genre and can be a mish-mash of professional, amateur and beloved goodies.

The key to hanging an eclectic bunch of artworks is in the order, levels and structure. Start by choosing what you want to display. Then mark out a space on the floor with the proportions of the wall area you want to fill, and arrange the artworks so they fit neatly within this space. Start by placing larger pieces in the corners.

Work your way in, making sure large pieces are spread evenly. Fill gaps with smaller pieces and unusually shaped items. Rearrange pieces until you are happy with the look. Photograph it so you don’t forget the order and then hang everything. Try to align edges, tops and bottoms of frames to create a professional and precise feel.

7. Jodi Newnham, Mid Century Swag

As an artist and interior designer who sources mid-century furniture, curating interiors with a sense of soul is so important to me. Vintage pieces do this by creating nostalgia and giving a home personality and character.


Mid-century and vintage furniture is in hot demand, but it’s not about creating a full-scale vintage revival in your home – it’s more about finding hero pieces that make a statement, and balancing them out with the co-stars. Start by finding an interesting piece of furniture.

This could be a heavily textured or detailed sideboard, a chair that has a unique shape or even a sculptural piece of art. You can then develop and build your scheme from there.

8. Annie Loveridge, The Ivy House

Choosing a rug to define a space can be a functional and beautiful way to make a design statement. The right choice doesn’t have to be about colour – it can be a showcase for texture or an unexpected design.


A textured rug in natural tones can add a sophisticated base and help to create a welcoming space. A printed rug made from soft, natural fibres can be the perfect foil for hard lines in furniture, and create a bold, assertive scheme.

Layering natural fibres and textures adds another element. Have fun and choose a rug you love that is suited to the space. This will make the room feel inviting and well-designed.

9. Jane Carolan, Carpet Court

Nature can do no wrong in interiors, so make a statement by bringing in a hint of the outdoors. Brushed linens, tie-dyed fabrics, sea grass wallpapers and natural stone are the perfect fit for strong wooden floors or natural-toned carpets.

You don’t have to use bold colours to make a statement – the trick is to layer textures and mix hard and soft surfaces. Woven fabrics and soft wools add warmth during the cooler months; use crisp sea blues and minty greens to imitate the advent of spring and summer.

Keep all your accents on a neutral background of soft white, stone hues or shades of hessian to make them pop. There are also fabulous vinyls on offer that mimic stone and wood.

10. Claudia Kozub, Indie Home Collective

A great way to create a relaxed, comfy vibe in your home is to use lots of layers and textures. Mix homewares such as vases, candles and plants in different shapes and sizes.


Create a coffee table centrepiece using a platter, silver tray, low basket or even a beautiful piece of petrified wood as the base. Layer it with vases, foliage, candles and votives. For added texture you could try a large natural crystal, shell cluster or piece of coral.

Another fantastic way to create a simple, visually effective look is to group together vases, planters, votives and candles of the same colour. Mix different heights and interesting textures. Add a great plant and you will have an organic, textured look.

Compiled by: Fiona Ralph.

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