It takes extreme talent and tenacity to make it to the final of BBC2’s The Great Interior Design challenge and finalist Oliver Thomas has it oozing out of his every pore. I first met Oliver at the final of GIDC and while he didn’t take home the trophy he certainly won the hearts and admiration of the nation who loved his theatrical schemes and ebullient use of colour and pattern. As a designer he is certainly a man after my own maximalist heart and I adore his fearless approach to design. All his courageousness has has culminated in a home which has oodles of character and is pure joy to behold.
So obvs I just had to get myself invited round for an exclusive house tour (where you can see the full reveal over on my YouTube channel). But for the purpose of this blog post I thought we’d have a closer poke about at the genius ideas Oliver has used to create this maximalist haven and dig out some of those great ideas that we can all steal. Oliver is so generous with his creative ideas and suppliers and does all the DIY and decorating at his home, which makes me admire him just that little bit more.
The bedroom is a room of complete delight. Having been a devout follower of the dark side movement Oliver has recently redecorated in a lighter more colourful scheme. The crane wallpaper by Harlequin really sets the drama while the Bone china blue walls from Little Greene paint keeps the over all vibe very restful. That amazing arts and crafts fire surround was just £30 off Ebay, and was dated dark wood before Oliver got his hands on it. Now its a beautiful focal point in the room and a surface to display a few of his favourite things.
I love the way Oliver isn’t afraid to layer pattern and colour on top of one another. The headboard fabrics is the anchor from which all the other colours are pulled from. And a hint of black and white geometric always adds a little jazz hands to the proceedings. The amazing cushion in the foreground is by Santorus, which is one of Oliver’s favourite brands and I think they sum up his style. I love how a cushion can do that!
Every surface in Oliver’s home is carefully styled and curated. Here the common gold element makes these eclectic objects all hang together. I’m especially loving the Madonna prints. It’s these little pieces that make a home feel real and full of personality and quirk.
One of the rules of successful decorating is to always design a room in the full 360 and Oliver has carried the look all the way around the room. There’s nothing matchy-matchy about this scheme yet I like how he’s used a few common threads to link the whole look together. For example the black and white from the cushions, is repeated in those amazing wide stripe curtains, just £6 per meter from Ikea.
The electric blue that’s been used to highlight the original sash window is also carried through in the giant peacock wall art, which is a section of a wall mural that Oliver picked up on Ebay. Oliver is a a master of playing with scale and the large oversized print adds oodles of character to this corner of the bedroom. And cleverly helps to detract from the TV! Blue is a supremely relaxing colour, although can be a little chilly so I love the way he’s warmed it up with shades of coral and mustard yellow, which is also picked out from the peacock print.
Now the bathroom was a complete triumph. Like many of us, Oliver is waiting to completely makeover the tired existing bathroom suite. But that takes hassle and spondoolies, so in the mean time he’s made it look fabulous with a riot of pattern. Limiting the colour palette to just blue and white is a great way to mix patterns, from the Moorish tile wallpaper, from B&Q, Ikat print fabric at the window (discontinued from Ikea), and the classic willow style pottery. I’m loving the hints of gold as well, dotted throughout which adds a touch of warmth and glamour. Far from a room that’s designed to be purely functional, Olivers bathroom looks just as well dressed as any room in the home.
So the hallway. Wow. I always recommend that you pay extra attention to how you design the hallway and I think it’s always worth pushing the colour boat out here. As a thoroughfare space you can get away with going much bolder than you dare elsewhere in the house. This saturated Emerald green is just heart-stoppingly wonderful. You’ll notice too that there is plenty of lighting in this space that makes sure the room is fab rather than drab. It’s also the perfect backdrop to Olivers amazing collection of artwork and incredible menagerie of animals. This perfect hue is Emerald from Leyland paints and I love how it’s darker than the other rooms in the house, which interestingly gives them a heightened sense of light when you walk into them. So into the kitchen that was for me just that was just heart stopping! First of all lets just sit back and admire the incredible jaw-to-the-floor Fueilles de Luxe bannana leaf wallpaper from The Loft And Us. I love to see wallpaper used in unexpected places and this large scale print just burst with humour and joy. Oliver cleverly panelled the kitchen walls out first so the wallpaper, at £87.50 a roll, is only required to form a wide border across the top of the room. It also means it completely practical in this bijou kitchen diner.
The rest of the room is balanced with smart white wall panelling and simple metro tiles. The existing kitchen got a masterful facelift with a lick of Drawing Room Blue by Farrow and Ball and new brass bar handles. And lets not forget the chairs. Picked up at a local Crouch End second hand shop for a song. They are actually old garden chairs that are bought bang up to date with a coat of Coral Kiss by Homebase. The whole effect with the ferns on top of the units and the bold prints is so very Palm Springs.
Finally the front living room is a superbly proportioned room in the Victorian property. Oliver has added to the grandeur by adding wall paneling, pinned all around and then painted throughout in a lovely warm neutral tone, China Clay dark by Little Greene Paint. The pinky hue of the walls marries up perfectly with the decadent purple velvet sofa. Pops of emerald green cushions and lush house plants keep the whole look fresh. I’m totally loving Oliver’s eclectic taste and play on scale. The enormous metallic bust perched on the coffee table is like a hearty gafaw. Then there’s the antique chairs (junk shop find) nestled next to the bold geometric rug (from Ikea) and modern artwork that helps make the whole space feel unique. And spot the cheeky bit of leopard print. I have loads of it in my wardrobe but none of it in my home so I’ve taken note! You’ll also notice that there is alot of symmetry in this room which is a clever way of making a very busy scheme balanced. A pair of lamps on a side board, a pair of armchairs, even the pair of striking vases on the mantle piece all helps to give this room a calm cohesion.The fabulous black palm print wallpaper inserted into the panels was a total bargain from Ebay. Its actually Versace but Oliver loves how the black fronds camouflages the TV. There are no less than nine cushions on that sofa which I think should be the minimum as standard! Again the colour and pattern mashing is exemplary. There’s leopard print, geometrics and palm prints all jostling together in sheer ecstasy. As a maximalist Oliver totally understands lives by the more is more mantra. And I for one can’t wait to see more from this talented and exciting designer.