Welcoming autumn with Anna Starmer

Anna Starmer Portrait

Feature image credit by Casey Moore, Anna Starmer author of Love Colour: Choosing Colours to Live With 

It’s officially October which means welcoming those rich, warm tones back into your life. Although the picture perfect autumnal Pinterest home looks dreamy (we have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to dream homes), we know that in reality, the seasons’ll change in a flash and you’ll be putting up the Christmas decorations before you know it. So, how can you subtly introduce autumn into your home without having to break the bank?

For Anna Starmer, interior designer and author of Love Colour: Choosing Colours to Live With, it’s all in the colour. We sat down with her to chat about her history with colour, her favourite sentimental objects and her interior top tips about introducing autumn into your home.

How did you get into the world of colour and interiors?

I’ve always loved colour, putting colours together and making things. At school, my friend and I used to visit the local jumble sales and then cut up and make new clothes out of whatever we found. I grew up in the middle of Northamptonshire in the early 1980s, so there was nowhere to shop or buy cool stuff. We had to invent it all for ourselves. I think this made us develop our own personalised style!

I went to college in London and studied Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art and Design 25 years ago, where I specialised in knitted textiles. When I left college, I got my first job with East Central Studios in London’s East End. Here I learnt all about the wonderful world of colour forecasting and design consultancy. I worked on projects for clients ranging from Pantone to John Smedley and quickly realised  I favoured creating colour directions and photographic images rather than designing the knitwear.

Over the last 20 years I’ve been building my own consultancy called Luminary, and many of my clients kept asking me to create my own colours, or a future forecast colour book. So, 10 years ago, I set up Luminary Colour, a bi-annual colour forecasting book, which has 60 hand-dyed swatches, hundreds of inspirational images and key colour palette direction for two years ahead. I started off in my shed at the bottom of the garden in London, making each book entirely by hand, and now the book is now in its 20th edition.

Anna Starmer in the studio, author of Love Colour: Choosing Colours to Live With

Image by Casey Moore

 Are there any items in your home that have inspired a room’s décor?

I have a beautiful huge photograph by my friend Sukey Parnell, which was given to me when I was pregnant with my daughter Eva, 11 years ago. The image is a modern-day recreation of Hamlet’s Ophelia. I love the colours in the image, the bold red dress against the deep lagoon green water. I’ve been looking for a dark green paint colour which would capture the green in the photograph.

Apparently, the depth of the colour is so intense because of the amount of pigment used in creating the paint, making it one of their most expensive colours to produce. I found some deep red velvet patchwork cushions, which pick out the colour of the red dress perfectly. The green is really dark, blueish and intense, and the red is rich and like wine, making a combination of green and red really work. This combination and setting became the inspiration for the detail on the cover of the Love Colour book!

Anna Starmer's Lounge image from Love Colour: Choosing Colours to Live With

Image credit: Anna Starmer

Can you share your tips for welcoming autumn into our homes?

My work always begins and centres around how humans live and I love that the seasons affect our lifestyle. As we move from summer into autumn, we retreat indoors more. We eat warming rustic foods (Sunday roasts are a celebration of colour), light a fire indoors, and begin our indoor hibernation.

For me, autumn is the season of the lounge. I usually buy even more pillows for my huge grey sofa and get cosy. Colours for me in the autumn are warming, rich, dark and secure. I always say to my clients that you can’t think about colour until you’ve considered surface and texture.

The colder months demand cosy materials and sumptuous textures like wool, fur and velvet. Surfaces can make colours even richer and more intense. For example, think of a super matt chalky wall paint or a high glazed ceramic pot. Their texture enhances and exaggerates the colours.

Lighting too plays a huge role as the seasons change. We move from light and bright summer afternoons with the windows open and the breeze blowing through the home, to colder months where we close the curtains and light candles. Softened atmospheric lighting is always more pleasant than harsh overhead light, so use side lamps, table lamps and multiple lights within one room, which can be switched on or off depending on the task at hand. They’ll create a deep and soft light, reflecting the natural movement of the earth. This will make you will feel more centred and calmer.

Anna Starmer's Kitchen from Love Colour: Choosing Colours to Live With

Image credit: Anna Starmer

What advice would you give to someone redesigning their home?

Firstly, find the colours you love and keep going back to them. Before starting your room design, build a moodboard of images, objects or colours which really make you happy – don’t think of the end use, or the room. These colours are most probably found throughout your life, from the kitchen to the bathroom, and even into the clothes you buy.

When choosing colours and creating a colour scheme, make sure you get samples of everything. Lay them out together to see they’re compatible. Get paint tester pots and paint A3 swatches. Hang these on the wall where you intend to use them, and look at them throughout the day, in daylight and in artificial light. Always get a swatch of fabric from your upholsterer before you commit to a sofa or curtains. Lay this together with your flooring sample and your paint colour in your chosen room, then return in a few days to ensure you 100% love that combination.

And finally, don’t rush into any big decisions. Take your time with the design process and the end result will definitely be exactly what you love. Two years ago, we renovated and extended our kitchen. It all went completely wrong! From unearthing a well and six Victorian drains underneath the kitchen floor, it was a nightmare. The kitchen took a total of 17 months to finish. But during this time, I was allowed space. After, I planned and defined my ideas around colour, materials and surfaces. I was given time to really consider the light in the space and the shape of the new room, and I completely changed my interior design. The end result is something which we are all so happy with, and I still adore the colour scheme.

Love Colour: Choosing Colours to Live With Book Cover

Book credit: Ivy Press 

You can buy Anna’s book, Love Colour: Choosing Colours to Live With, for £25 from all good bookshops and online. Discover more interior inspiration with our DIY tutorials and unique home tours.