Matthew Williamson's Styling Tips That Will Transform Your Home Into A Maximalist Oasis
When decorating, fashion designer turned interiors guru Matthew Williamson applies the same logic as he does to dressing: have fun and be yourself
In his former career as a fashion designer, Londoner Matthew Williamson was known for his colourful, characterful clothes. Now, as an interior and homeware designer, with collections of furniture, fabrics, wallpapers, lighting and accessories, his aesthetic remains bold, joyful and full of stylish juxtaposition. Here are his top rules for nailing maximalist interior style.
Create a mood board
Rather than gathering piles of random pictures, keep it to just a few images that really reflect your personal style. Ask yourself questions like what’s your favourite city, hotel, film, design decade? This will help to generate a personal vision. Board the images up — knowing your style and seeing it reflected back at you from a board is a valuable and fun thing to do.
Be clever with colour
Branded paints can be wonderful, but finding a colour you love and having it mixed to order will make your space unique. Colour is so personal, why would you limit yourself to a paint chart? Why not go and match the shade of a scarf that you love? Then you’ve got a colour that’s all yours. My go-to trick when combining different colours in a room is to contrast warm and cool tones: think soft chalky blue-green walls with hot-pink details.
Gather, group and display
As a collector with a magpie eye, once in a while I like to gather everything I have in a space, clear out the things I’m tired of and rearrange what’s left in a new way. I think your home should evolve and be adaptable to your mood and the seasons. We can all get stuck in that rut of thinking once a room is done, it’s done, but if you can find the momentum to do it, it’s quite cathartic. A room is a work in progress; it functions, but why not keep things fresh? You do it with your wardrobe, your bookcase, your food — with most things in life you’re changing, improving. I don’t think a space is ever done.
Prints bring personality to a space. Being bold and brave with pattern doesn’t mean things can’t also be refined and considered. There are no rules, but mixing a floral print with a stripe is a classic combination, and adding in some animal print will bring a chic, accomplished look. There must be something in a print that you love, whether it’s a ditsy floral or a bold colourblock. In fashion, it’s all about how you feel in that dress, and I think the same thing should apply to your interiors. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the easiest thing to do — getting six cushions to work in harmony on the sofa is easier said than done. The important thing is whether it works for your own eye.
Accessorise with lights
Lights create mood and atmosphere. I’ve got about eight lights in my living room on the same dimmer switch: table lamps and wall sconces that can be as bright or as dull as I like. They don’t match; for me it’s the mix that’s fun. A printed shade is a great way to update an old table lamp. It’s like adding jewellery, a pair of cool shoes or a handbag to a trusted outfit — once you’ve got the bones of your room done, a new lamp can be a joyful little find.
Go for good-looking storage
That hoard of stuff you can’t get rid of for whatever reason can be quite depressing. If you’re short on space, baskets and containers will keep things in order and look good, avoiding the dumping-ground effect that’s so easy to fall into. Steer clear of plastic and go for straw, wood or any other natural material. I have storage within storage. I like to keep everyday things like light bulbs in a nice box in the cupboard, for instance. It helps to make those mundane storage moments a little less mundane.
Add magic with mirrors
I collect mirrors wherever I go. I went to a bar in Barcelona once where a wall in the bathroom was covered in mirrors and there was a mirror ball on the ceiling — it turned a utilitarian space into a jewellery box. That was my inspiration. It’s nice to focus in on one thing you love and repeat it, so it feels considered. Mirrors are great for narrow hallways or dark rooms as they open up the space and bring charm and character to an empty wall.
Spruce up wood
Sometimes you have furniture or features that function well, but the wood isn’t quite right. I’m not a fan of dark, blonde or shabby-chic wood, so I usually paint it. I love to use strong, glossy bolts of colour.
Go your own way
Perhaps the most important rule of all is to keep yourself at the forefront of your plans when renovating or refreshing your space. Try not to look at who is doing what and go with your own instincts and judgments. When you get dressed, you tend to think about where you’re going and who you’re going to meet. With your home, no one’s going to see it unless you invite them in. It’s got to answer your own brief. Have confidence in what you love, and edit out what you don’t. The only box it should tick is whether it brings you joy.
— The Telegraph