Designer Martin McLoughlin’s eye for colour is demonstrated beautifully in his contemporary Blackheath flat, and now he’s launched a bespoke colour consultation service to help you liven up your home. Nikki Spencer finds out more
‘I am like a magpie, collecting things wherever I go,’ declares Martin Mcloughlin as he shows me around his light and airy Blackheath flat. He gives a recent car journey with friends as an example: ‘We were driving past this pretty nothingy junk shop when I spied these mirrors in the window and shouted for them to pull over immediately.’
The two grey 1960s porcelain mirrors now grace his hallway and match the Farrow and Ball Ammonite walls perfectly. Martin’s home is a tasteful mix of designer and antique pieces combined with some canny charity shop and high street finds. Russell Pinch chairs from the Conran shop are teamed with a glass tabletop from IKEA sat on wooden Habitat legs.
There’s a Heal’s cabinet in one corner of his sitting room while in another there’s a mid-century bureau that Martin discovered in one of his favourite haunts, the Sue Ryder charity shop in Lee. A William 1V Mahogany Chiffoniere in the hall was a hand-me-down that now comes in very useful for storing paint samples, Martin reveals.
Carefully chosen pictures bring life to the walls and shelves and each has a story: a large framed black-and-white photo is an exhibit from a Vidal Sassoon 50th anniversary exhibition that Martin worked on. It features former model and now US Vogue creative director Grace Coddington.
In the sitting room there’s a warm terracotta coloured photo he of took of the rooftops of Manhattan when he was working in New York, while above the fireplace there’s a graphic print he bought at the Pick Me Up Graphic Arts Festival at Somerset House a few years ago: ‘It reminds me of when I was a student. I didn’t have blue hair but it was pretty unruly,’ Martin recalls. A lovely photograph of Martin’s beloved Fox Terrier, Ted, was taken when he cheekily snuck his head round the door during a work photoshoot.
Martin has always had an eye for detail. As a child growing up in Derry, Northern Ireland, some of his earliest memories are of visits to friends and neighbours where he even took to rearranging their ornaments.
‘I was always moving things around and still am,’ he confesses. ‘I must have been only 8 or 9 when I went into a neighbour’s house and picked up a small Buddha and repositioned it under a lamp declaring “this is where it should be!”.’ Years later they gave him the Buddha, which has pride of place on a shelf in the sitting room.
Martin trained as a graphic designer and over the years has worked with a whole range of clients from The Body Shop and Battersea Dogs Home to much-loved former Blackheath shop Sisters and Daughters. He bought his Victorian flat, tucked away in a quiet cul-de-sac just minutes from the station, about 20 years ago from siblings who had been left it by their great aunt. He’d previously rented with friends in Hither Green so already knew the area and was immediately taken with the ‘villagey’ feel and the proximity to the heath and Greenwich Park.
The flat, however, was desperately in need of modernisation and, doing it up over the years – installing a new bathroom and galley-style kitchen and laying American black walnut floors throughout – has fuelled his passion for interiors, and experimenting with colour in particular. In the bathroom the walls and fittings are white but there’s a flash of colour from beautiful blue handmade Moroccan tiles around the base of the bath, complimented by towels from Missoni, one of Martin’s favourite designers.
In the bedroom he’s opted for a bold Farrow and Ball Hague Blue on one wall while the double doors leading to it are Fired Earth Quince. A wooden IKEA floor lamp in the hallway has been given a new lease of life after Martin painted it neon. Doing up his home and advising friends has inspired Martin to launch his own Colour Rooms interior colour consultancy to help others make the most of where they live.
He describes colour as ‘the equivalent of the Affordable Art Fair’ – a simple and relatively inexpensive way to make your home feel special.
‘Getting the right colour for your home can be a tricky business for fear of getting it wrong,’ he explains, ‘but the right colour has the power to excite or create a calm and cool space’. It’s a bespoke service. Martin visits people in their homes and helps them choose colours what will work for them. It may be just for one room or a whole house.
He has created a unique palette of colours from which clients can choose, including Conran, Zoffany and some smaller suppliers as well as Fired Earth and Farrow and Ball. He believes that people shouldn’t shy away from using more striking colours or think that they are only for modern homes.
‘If you live in a period home you don’t have to stick to period colours,’ he advises. ‘There are so many more colours available now.’
See colourrooms.org or call Martin on 020 8463 0308