A love affair with colour has transformed this coastal home into a blushing beauty
Craving open space in the midst of lockdown, Amber Armitage purchased a small bach in beachy Mangawhai. Her “let it be” approach to paint has paid off by the bucketload, letting the small rooms remain dark and moody while the light-filled spaces are treated to colours that dazzle in the sun.
“Let the space be the best version of what it is,” Amber says. The result is a home with an array of chocolate-box delights, from a perfect pink kitchen to a Mediterranean bathroom sanctuary.
Meet & greet
Amber (freelance art director and interiors stylist) and Stevie the miniature schnauzer.
Talk us through your home makeover – how long did it take?
Because of the border restrictions during lockdown, I wasn’t able to visit the property until settlement so I had the exterior painted in Resene Bokara Grey by some local painters. The week before
I moved in, I painted the entire interior with the help of my parents in Resene Half Sea Fog. I wanted a clean slate to start with. I started with painting my bedroom in Resene Tuft Bush and the spare bedroom in Resene Envy – both of these projects I did in about three days. The rest of the glow-up project I have done in the past two months, I’m not really one to muck around – once I want to do something, I just do it. Basically, adding colour, changing all the light fittings, sanding back benches and layering soft furnishings.
How would you describe your interior style?
When I am figuring out what to put in a space, first it is function. I try to put only the items I need in this space and, most importantly, edit out what does not need to be there. Then, I decorate accordingly. I wanted the overall feel of this place to be a bit of a retreat and a space you would feel instantly relaxed in; it needed to not be cluttered with too much stuff, have colours that were calming but still made a statement, and be decorated with the things that felt welcoming and relaxed. Books lying around, places to curl up and read, with throws and cushions to relax. If I had to pin down an interior style, I would say it is relaxed with a layer of sophistication, full of colour but used with restraint.
What was your colour palette inspiration?
One of my jobs is to reinterpret colour forecasting trends created overseas into Resene colour palettes and create interior shoots in the studio that represent these. I had thought it would be great to play with one of the colour palettes I love, which is called Home, at my house. Each palette has eight colours, and from this I decided to break it down into mini-palettes, which I could use for each space. As all the rooms are off the central living space, I kept the main living area neutral in Resene Half Sea Fog, and then played with the palette in each room off this space. All the spaces also had elements of the other colours within the palette, and in the lounge I used art and my favourite rug to tie the whole palette back together. I wanted the lounge to give hints of the colours that you would have when you went into each space, and I love being able to look through from the lounge and see the colour in the other rooms.
What’s your process behind decorating and colour? Are your colour choices based around possessions, or your possessions based around colour choices?
A mix of both, pulling colour palettes together for this home has basically been about working out which colours are going in which spaces and then putting together my existing possessions into that space, working out what works together and editing out the things that don’t. The final step is finding a few key pieces that pull it together. I think the key to making things work is to trying things in different places and not being afraid to get it wrong. Sometimes one wrong thing in a space can really throw off the harmony so I always keep editing and trying out different combos of items together.
Going bold in the kitchen is a brilliant choice. Can you tell us about your decision process?
The kitchen was pretty basic – it had black wrapped vinyl stickers over the cupboards and an orange/red stained bench, which I hated. I wanted a fun but still sophisticated colour, but I didn’t make the final decision until the benchtop was done as I wasn’t sure what colour it would turn out. As it got lighter it looked great with the dirty pink of Resene Brady Rose so I went for it. I am not decorating for resale (the worst type of decorating in my opinion), I am decorating for what I love, how I want it to feel and be a space I want to be in. So, I trust my gut and let it be whatever it ends up being. I don’t have huge expectations when I start a project, I just start and make decisions as I go – deciphering when to do more and when to pull back.
How did you go about creating tranquillity in your bedroom spaces?
Edit, edit, edit – keep a tight palette, take out all the things that you don’t need and don’t use. Creating a tranquil space is just as much about what is not in the space, as what is. Have plenty of storage, you don’t need all your stuff on display – let the beautiful things you do have sing. It’s a fine balance between what functions and what looks beautiful.
Talk us through your sultry bathroom, what was your vision there?
I think the bathroom was my bravest move. It is quite a big space as it doubles as the laundry and when it was painted white it always felt quite clinical – no matter how many plants I threw at it. I had been pondering painting it dark, then my mum gifted me the bathing woman wall sculpture and it reminded me of the bathhouses I had been to in Turkey and Morocco – they were all dark and moody spaces with dark tiles and plaster effects. I tried to carry this look through with oversized urns, stone accessories and plush towels.
Which finished result are you most pleased with?
The kitchen, by far. The kauri benchtop because it was such a long and painful process, filling cracks, stripping and sanding it back. It came together so much better than I thought it would. Also, the colour blocking, I decided on the day I finished painting the cabinets to continue the pink colour up the wall, I took a bit of a risk but it paid off. After the amount of time and work I put into the kitchen, the final touch was completing the space with the Samsung Bespoke French Door fridge in pink, what could be more perfect? It felt like such a reward to me for my hard work.
Any tips for contemplating a makeover on a budget?
Paint, paint, paint (and take a risk with some colour). It is the easiest and most affordable way to make
a big impact on your space. It is also something you can do yourself without paying someone else and you can be brave with. Get test pots and order paint drawdowns (A4 swatches) and try out the colours in the space. The lighting will have a big impact on how the colour reads in the space so don’t choose your colours based on something you have seen on Pinterest, try out samples in the space. Lastly, do the makeover for yourself, something that reflects your personality, not for the next potential buyer. A new coat of white may look fresh but adding a colour can change how the entire space feels.
Words by: Caroline Moratti. Photography by: Wendy Fenwick