Carol Maxwell loves experimenting with colour – so much so she has changed the hue of the front of her house three times in nine years.
As an illustrator, interior designer, influencer and owner of home and gift firm Max Made Me Do It, working out wonderous colour combinations and fantastic prints is all part of her day job.
Carol, husband Tom and son Max moved into their semi-detached Victorian home in Forest Hill in 2013 and the property has become a source of inspiration – and testing – for her brand.
‘I have painted the front of the house three colours – or rather my dad has,’ she laughs. ‘They were all shades of grey, one was far too lavender and one was way too dark – it looked like dark cement. Now it’s Purbeck Stone and Ammonite, with Railings on the door. It became known as Paintgate, [my dad] would start asking passers-by if they thought the colour was too dark.’
The living room is Carol’s favourite space in the house. It was the first room she decorated after they moved into the property nine years ago. On purchase, it was a pleasant, if uninspiring, series of off-white rooms and Carol has transformed it to a cosy, decadent space, rich with colour and texture.
However it is also sympathetic to the original features of the house, helping to bring out the handsome proportions and period details. The living room was treated to a refresh a couple of years ago and Carol kept the Farrow & Ball wall colour (Hague Blue) but completely transformed the overall feel simply by being brave enough to add Crimson Red to the ceiling and take it down to the picture rail.
‘I have always experimented with colour,’ says Carol. ‘As a designer, illustrator and artist, colour has been key to me. [Even if I haven’t] dressed colourfully I would keep the colour for my home. My student bedrooms were deep colours and reds.’
The family wanted somewhere that would be cosy in the winter and cool in summer and Carol says the dark hues do just that – plus it is a great place to entertain.
‘I think colour can evoke the right feelings for the room,’ she explains. ‘In bedrooms, colours should be calming, whereas in playrooms you can have more uplifting colours – you can create the tone and feeling in a room. With the living room, these are grand rooms, with high ceilings, and I feel like they should do two jobs. You should be able to relax and also host.
‘We love having friends round and the colours and accessories create a boutique hotely feel and it is perfect for entertaining. There is nowhere else I would rather relax and unwind with friends on a cosy evening at home.’
Carol says that anyone wanting to experiment with colour could introduce pops into the room – in Max’s bedroom the fireplace and skirting boards have been painted in Cricket Green by Valspar. ‘I always live by the saying, it is only paint, you can paint it back,’ she adds.
But her experimenting is not over yet and Carol says she may have new plans for the living room and the property in general. She explains: ‘I’ve been drawn to rooms that are paler, so I don’t know if I’m starting to shift. I wouldn’t go to neutrals, but as I get older I am seeking a calmer space, and might embrace fresher tones.’
Check out the Max Made Me Do It website.
‘It’s a House of Hackney shade on a car-boot stand. It’s a nod to bygone eras, makes me think of the Twenties.’
ALTERNATIVE: Flora Fantasia Jacquard Tilia Lampshade.
Buy it for £395 from House of Hackney.
‘An accidental buy. I came back from holiday and a stray cat had got into our home and peed on our sofa for two weeks and we just had to get rid of it – this was in the clearance section. It normally take ages to order a new sofa, this quick buy just worked.’
Loaf Home – Jonesy sofa in Rockpool Clever Velvet, buy it for £1445 from Jonesy.
‘This is from a local shop in East Dulwich.’
ALTERNATIVE: Exclusive Medium Flood Vase in Green by Sophie Alda.
Buy it for £65 from Conran Shop.
Floral leafy cushion
‘When I opened my shop in Forest Hill I painted a big mural in the shop and that pattern is taken from a photo of that mural.’
Dartmouth Tropical Deep Ink Velvet Cushion, buy it for £55 from Max Made Me Do It.
‘It was the finishing piece. I always had floorboards and let them sing for a few years but the rug sealed the extra cosiness.’
Souk Wool Rug, buy it from £160 from West Elm.
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