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Refresh, revamp and reinvent

Interior stylist Selina Lake shows how to give homespun style a modern twist for a look that’s quirky, colourful and gloriously eclectic.

Homespun style is very now. It reflects our growing love of craft and creativity – and our discovery that objects made by talented craftspeople, or modified with a needle and thread or a lick of paint, add soul and personality to our homes.

Start by throwing out the interior design rule book. Have fun experimenting with combinations of colours, textures and eye-catching displays.

Make the most of textiles. Below, lush green cushions provide a focal point, contrasting with the lacy throw and detailed patchwork.

Modern crafting is about simple tweaks to pieces you’ve already bought. Anyone can stitch a button on a cushion, give an old chair a coat of paint – or thread cupcake cases on patterned string

Create a standout feature wall by pasting one side of a room with a paper that combines vibrant colour with a large-scale repeat pattern.

Use wallpaper on more than just walls. Florals and block colours can brighten cabinets as well as small alcoves and cupboard doors.

You don’t need a lot of colour to make a bold statement. Even used quite minimally, a strong colour can have a huge impact. Add drama by painting a door frame or several chairs for pops of contrasting color.

Frame a central piece of furniture such as a bed with contrasting squares of retro wallpaper. Clip-on lights add visual interest and save space on side tables.

Work bright colours in using bedding or a single wall, but balance this with neutral flooring or white walls to prevent it becoming too busy. Sleep experts recommend creating a calm atmosphere – so you don’t want to be too distracted by a riot of colour!

Think beyond a piece’s original purpose when hunting for second-hand finds. First look at an object’s colour, pattern or shape. Focus on what draws you to it and work out how to use it later. Reinvent a bookcase as a quirky kitchen cabinet, a pretty cup as a plant holder or a scarf as a rich cushion cover.

10 Natural light is a key ingredient of the homespun look, so keep window treatments simple and unfussy. Hang a large mirror in darker rooms to boost light levels, or add a window into an adjacent room (below).

11 Hang more than one light. A decorative feature in themselves, the greater the number and variety of light sources, the more you can control the light to suit your mood or activities.

12 Forget coordinated china or matching cutlery – revel instead in a cheerful diversity of colour, form and pattern. This approach makes kitting out your kitchen simple; mismatched crockery can be easily be added to and furniture painted to suit.

13 But be selective – store boring kitchen items out of sight and use repeated colours (such as the lemon-yellow window frame, vases and china, below) to help create cohesion. A homespun cooking space derives its sense of style from things out on display, but too many objects can be distracting.

14 Mix, don’t match. Armchair covers or a scattering of loose cushions upholstered in a mix of fabrics can give an otherwise neutral living space bags of style.

15 Get creative with walls. A large-scale map pasted directly onto one wall makes a striking and informative backdrop for a child’s study area

16 Take the inside out. Whether it’s a tiny balcony or rambling garden, an outdoor space provides a place to play, read or relax. Treat it as another room in your home and carry some of your decorating ideas, colour schemes and furniture into this area to add personality and a splash of colour.

17 Aim for an unfussy backdrop to which you can add quirky, op-shop furniture finds, vibrant textures and a few surprises. Soften the look of traditional dining chairs (right) with seat pads covered in practical water-resistant oilcloth and bright cushions.

18 Just like indoors, textiles are crucial. Seat pads, cushions and even vintage quilts help make outdoor chairs more inviting – and beautiful fabrics and cushions can hide the most unassuming wooden furniture.

19 Fabric bunting is a favourite of the homespun scheme, lending an instant party vibe to any outside eating space.

20 Tweak convention when it comes to what furniture works outdoors. See below for a greenhouse converted into a sunny outside living room with the use of colourful rugs, second-hand furniture and comfortable, handmade cushions.

21 Creating an attractive al fresco environment relies more on how you decorate and furnish the space than what you grow in it

​Extracted with permission from Homespun Style by Selina Lake, text by Joanna Simmons, photography by Debi Treloar, published by Ryland Peters & Small 2012, $49, distributed in New Zealand by Bookreps NZ

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