For the love of colour

Words: Margaret McGuire | Photography: John Downs

When Dan and Kay purchased an expansive home in Brisbane’s west that positively sizzled with bold colour, they didn’t want to change it. But, as 20 years had passed since the house was decorated by John Croft of John Croft Design, the time had come to refresh the interiors, so, naturally, they re-enlisted the company to update their home.

It fell to John Croft and Kylie Mann, Senior Interior Designer at John Croft Design to direct the project. Dan and Kay were keen to keep their vividly coloured walls and neutral furniture, but John’s idea was to turn this upside down – keep the walls neutral in the large sitting room and introduce the colour the clients loved in fabrics, rugs and accessories. “They took a bit of convincing, but in the end, that’s what we did, and they love it,” said Kylie.

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The house was architect designed in the seventies and features the raked ceilings that were ubiquitous at that time. Their impact has been softened with the application of a neutral colour which teams with the stone feature wall and the tiled floors while providing a counterpoint to the riot of colour introduced in the furnishings. Designers Guild fabrics are noted for their inspired colour combinations and vibrant tones, and in this living room, in the upholstery fabrics and the Austrian blind, it’s not hard to see why. A custom designed rug in complementary colours anchors the scheme.

“We retained about 80% of the original furniture that we supplied for the first project,” said John. “At that time, we custom designed the sofas, and supplied the arm chairs, and they were still in such good condition that we simply had them re-covered. They look brand new.”

This home is an on-going project for John Croft Design, and so far encompasses the main living room, billiard room, entrance, dining room and sunken television area. It’s in the sunken television area where John has moved away from vivid colour, creating an intimate, embracing space. Original bagged and painted brickwork and lime washed panels have been treated to a warm charcoal finish, and the original sofas, designed by John 20 years ago, have been reupholstered in a soft, graduated velour and teamed with cushions which add just a tiny splash of colour.

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An unusual feature of this home is the mezzanine dining area, which looks over the informal sitting area and is accessed via wrought steel staircases on either side. The Christian Lacroix wallpaper on the ceiling takes star billing here – a fantasy of butterflies and dragonflies on a grey background. Here too, the chairs are original and have been reupholstered to work with the new scheme. This is a transformation which has cleverly updated the look of the home while retaining most of the original furniture, and most importantly of all, has satisfied the owners’ love of rich, vibrant colour.