Marianne Shillingford is like a double espresso. Even at 9am the creative director at Dulux is bursting with infectious enthusiasm. ‘I’m a Tigger because I’m always bouncing,’ she smiles. A large part of Marianne’s job is understanding what colours do to a space, how they make us feel, how they improve our lives and the emotions they give us.
It is no surprise, then, that her home in west London is packed with vibrant hues, one-off pieces, plants, bowls of fruit and murals.
It is at times a jungle, a curio shop, a miniature world and a place where colour inspires creativity and gives energy.
‘I love colour,’ says Marianne. ‘It is important to choose the colours that make us happy. One of biggest joys of decorating is the way colour affects the space and makes us feel. I have recently started using extraordinarily powerful colours.
‘We need feel-good colours right now and paint is the best way to get it.’
Marianne was, in a sense, born to her job. Hailing from Nottingham, she grew up on a rose nursery. ‘The experience of colour, the feeling of colour, the theatre and experience was there from the beginning,’ she says.
At the age of 20 she went to a fairground to buy her husband, Ted, a dodgem car as a gift – as you do – and by chance she met a man who painted rides.
Fresh out of art college, she ended up working there for five years – painting panels for rides in cosmic colours and gold leaf.
The giant fan-looking piece on the wall of her flat is from a hoopla stall – it was given to her as payment once when the fairground didn’t have enough money to pay her.
It is just one of the many things that has brought life and colour to her home, which was originally a photo studio for cookery books by foodie royalty such as Jamie Oliver.
When purchased, it was an empty warehouse, as devoid of interest as imaginable, but it was bright and it was affordable.
‘The light is awesome,’ Marianne says. ‘We couldn’t afford anywhere like it. We bought it as a unit and converted it into a flat.’
When they got the keys six years ago, Marianne carved it up into an open-plan space and three bedrooms. The spaces are filled with things that have been collected over the years.
The large clock that hangs in the living space came from Derby station and is one of the first things the couple bought together.
‘We found it in an architectural salvage yard. Still works perfectly,’ she says. Other things are upcycled – ‘the bench was being chucked out because it was broken so I mended, painted and reupholstered it’ – while other things are upcycled… and then upcycled again.
‘Everything gets painted over and over again, especially the furniture,’ says Marianne. ‘Most of it is stuff we bought or found when Ted and I first got together and has travelled with us ever since, changing and adapting to meet our needs and saving us a fortune along the way.’
Partly as a result of this desire to cherish, reuse and refresh existing items, Marianne and the Dulux Simply Refresh Multi Surface range have teamed up with eBay to create a one-stop shop for savvy shoppers looking to revamp their home, with pre-loved furniture from eBay.
The new paint, in 18 ready-mix colours can be painted directly on to wood, MDF, metal and melamine.
Marianne used the Ink Well colour on her wardrobes, a big storage cupboard and dining table.
Her almost Dali-esque travel gramophone, meanwhile, came from a relative, and the jukebox was rescued from a barn and brought back to life. ‘It’s got all the songs from our life, it’s the story of our life in a jukebox.’
The grey wire beehive pendant lights are a nod to the insects Marianne keeps in Devon and the Tudor house on the floor in the middle bedroom was a gift from her sister.
‘I might live in a warehouse but I do have a little Tudor cottage on the floor,’ she says.
Of the 150 or so plants in the property many are in terrariums, living with toy monkeys and snakes. ‘I love a little world. It does its own thing and has it’s own ecosystem. I love plants. In the city and not really having an outdoor space I love the way the plants fill that space with clean air and rustle when you walk past.’
Snakes and birds also live on the wall in the middle bedroom as part of a mural that has been painted with leftover Dulux sample pots.
‘Not a drop of paint gets wasted in my world, so all the hand-painted murals and artworks have been created using tester pots of colours from our latest collections.
Follow Marianne’s simple rules for a professional paint job
Choosing the right brush for the job
Pick a set of good-quality acrylic brushes in different sizes and a paint roller set with an extension pole for making light work of painting walls and ceilings. Look after them and they will make decorating a doddle and last you for years and years.
When to roll and when to paint
You need to do both to make decorating quick and easy. A brush for cutting in the edges of the walls and painted woodwork, and a roller for the big bits in between. You can also use a combo of brush and small roller for super-speedy furniture and kitchen unit painting.
Choosing the right colours
Find inspiration from things and places that make you happy. Great decorating should capture how you want to feel in a place as much as how you want it to look. Pick a palette for the walls inspired by your favourite things.
What order to paint everything in
Do your prep on all surfaces, vacuum up the dust then paint the ceiling. While it dries, you can paint the first coat on your woodwork. Add a second coat to the ceiling if necessary, allow it to dry, and start the walls. Once the walls are dry, finish off the woodwork with a top coat. Using standard emulsion you will need two coats of everything – but only one if you use special one-coat paints, such as Dulux Simply Refresh.
‘The one in the bedroom used up pretty well every colour in the new Easycare range. I love plants and so all shades of green are special. It’s the way this unique colour family can reconnect us with the outdoors when we are feeling stressed and hemmed in. I’ve just painted a storage cupboard in Rainforest Canopy to match one of the sofas. Totally lush.’
The kitchen is quite serene in comparison. It’s a slinky John Lewis of Hungerford example of restrained order, and Marianne jokes that it cost more than the first home she bought.
Painted in Dulux Cobalt Night, it looks almost black at night but has an inky blue colour by day.
‘It has a sense of calm about it. The kitchen needs to be calm and I find it really calming. In the day you can really see that blue,’ says Marianne.
She is also a fan of cluttercore – surrounding ourselves with things we love. ‘I love stuff, things that remind me of life. I like storytelling. The same goes for colours,’ she says.
Her most important piece of advice, however, is to not stop experimenting, creating and changing your living environment. Just like our lives, nothing stays still – and the home should reflect that.
‘It feels like my flat is organic,’ she says. ‘As our lives change, we want and need different things. Who knows what I’ll do when I finish the flat – I’ll be so bored.’
MORE : How to pull off ‘cluttercore’ at home – without it looking like a junk shop
MORE : Annie Sloan shows how to transform dull furniture on a budget with chalk paint
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