“Mere colour … can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways,” Oscar Wilde once wrote.
Stylist Gillian Lawlee referenced the quote in a post on her popular Instagram account, my.life.in.colour, and if you’re a follower, as I am, then you know exactly why she chose it. Gillian is a lover of color and a believer in its power to shift and soothe moods, and her account documents her joyfully saturated home and other similarly ebullient interiors.
She is also, like the famous writer, Irish by birth (“Cork Girl Living in LA” is how she describes herself in her bio). And so while the exterior of the small home she shares with her husband and two kids hews classic California bungalow, complete with a red-tiled roof and arched doors and windows, the interior has the distinctive, lived-in look of a rustic cottage on a coastal cliff. (You can almost hear the wind howling outside.)
A whiz at styling (her work experience includes home stager for 1000xbetter and visual manager for Anthropologie and Nicky Kehoe), Gillian has the rare refined sensibility that isn’t color-shy. But what I particularly admire is her anti-trendiness. Often times I can scan a room and “source” at least a few pieces. In Gillian’s home, nearly everything is vintage and almost nothing is immediately recognizable.
“I think that there is beauty to be found in almost any aesthetic. But the thing that I don’t love about ‘popular’ trends in general is the sense of a manufactured aesthetic. With social media, Pinterest, and big brand stores that have gotten so much savvier, it’s very easy to pull together a space that looks good on the surface but lacks soul,” she says. “I am all about the feeling of a space and the point of view of its owner, but if a home is a catalog of top 20 trends from the last few years, it’s kind of a turn-off for me.”
Recently, we asked Gillian for her expert tips on how to craft a home that uses color in meaningful, trend-proof ways. Here’s what she had to say:
Photography by Gillian Lawlee, courtesy of my.life.in.colour.
1. Activate the sink skirt.
Americans tend to see the kitchen as a workspace instead of a living space and, thus, often neglect to decorate it. A sink skirt is an easy way to add warmth and color, not to mention personality, to the room. That said, “a skirt works when it makes sense in the space, and they are silly when out of context,” notes Gillian.