Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the KLC School of Design's online course, The Power of Colour. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 13 seconds Initially, I trained in textiles. And then when I finished, I helped a friend who had a fashion company, and I was working with her a little bit. And I did want to move a little bit into the interiors world, so I enrolled myself in an interior design course in Chelsea, Chelsea School of Art. And then I went back to working with my friend who was actually starting as a stylist, a fashion stylist. Then, I just thought, gee, I love this world of arranging things, making things look beautiful. And I managed to actually transfer that into the interiors world. And I just found an interior stylist. I really wanted to assist, and it kind of– the ball started rolling then.

Skip to 1 minute and 2 seconds And I then got my own work.

Skip to 1 minute and 12 seconds And I also had a house in London that was a great location. Because while I had my children– because I’ve actually got five children– I found it was pretty tiring working at the same time. So I had a very nice house in the east end of London, quite a big house. It was a bit of a shambles. But I managed to style it in a way so that people wanted to come and shoot there. So I had lots of photo shoots there.

Skip to 1 minute and 46 seconds I’m completely crazy about color. And I didn’t know how crazy I was about color until I started using it, because I do think it takes a certain amount of confidence. And I hear all the time, you have a white room and you put accents of color in. And I was getting completely bored with a white room with accents of color. I’m thinking, why can’t the accent be the wall? Why can’t the color actually be the room and then you bring in more colors.

Skip to 2 minutes and 24 seconds Recently, I designed a house in Bath. Again, it was a very beautiful, big, fabulous Georgian traditional house. And it was very, very done up with white and taupe. And I went to see the clients who seemed quite depressed. And she said to me she felt, actually, that it was the color scheme because it was completely unjoyous. And so I thought about this, because they’re actually quite a fun couple. And so we ended up painting this huge room on the first floor with amazing windows. It looks like a ballroom. We painted the walls a sort of a mid-blue, and then took it right up over the ceiling, and then painted the floor dark, and had some really interesting bits of furniture.

Skip to 3 minutes and 15 seconds And the room is completely sensational. Every time I go there, I just kind of sit in the corner and just don’t want to leave. And they’ve actually said that to me. So I’m really glad they went with color there.

Skip to 3 minutes and 41 seconds I walk away from grays and things. But I do know that gray, sometimes, it is great and it can make a room look quite chic and calm. But what I find is that quite often people won’t put color with gray, and so it’s just completely lost on me. It’s almost like dysfunctional. I’ll walk out of the room thinking, oh, what was that? And actually, I have difficulty remembering those rooms. And part of my job is to go and see locations to shoot in. Often, they’re very, very bland. And I can see why, because they’re easy to shoot in. But I just can’t remember them.

Skip to 4 minutes and 27 seconds I maybe visit five, and I have to be very careful to take pictures because they’re all the same. I think people think that if they paint a room white and have very neutral tones, then it’s easy to live with. But it’s actually my idea of hell. And I’m bored stiff after three minutes. I’ve obviously got some sort of disorder, color disorder. I can’t remember them. Anyway, it’s not my idea of fun.

Skip to 5 minutes and 10 seconds The only technical tool I use, if you like, is light because I think color works in conjunction with light. And you absolutely can’t– I doubt that you can prescribe or even think of a color until you’re working with the light within the room. So I would never ever advise anybody to use a color unless I know what the light’s like. And people are always saying to me– because I work for quite a few paint companies– oh, what’s the newest shade? What do you think? And I go, well, there are some fabulous shades. Oh, shall I use that one? Well, I don’t know if you should use that one. I know what that looks like in a room that’s south-facing.

Skip to 5 minutes and 50 seconds North-facing, it’s darker. And also you have to think of what your floor’s like and the stuff that’s around it. So it’s almost like a puzzle. You have to fit pieces together to get some sort of harmony.

Skip to 6 minutes and 19 seconds What I really love, what I’m inspired by are pictures and objects and things. So I’ll find myself cutting things out of magazines. It might be the color of a feather that I found. It might be a bit of fabric. My mood boards are kind of a bit like a five-year-old’s collage that they might bring back from school. But I find that inspiring and I just think, well, I like doing it. And I like moving things around. I like manipulating things with my hands. So that works best for me. But I have a couple of assistants that go, come on. Just use that Photoshop more. What are you doing? And I’m using it. And then they see me.

Skip to 7 minutes and 9 seconds I print something out and I’m cutting out. I’m putting it on a mood board. I’m very much a hands-on, physical, cut out and stick down.

Skip to 7 minutes and 37 seconds I’m kind of like a sponge, really. I travel a lot. I think that is my main source of inspiration. I do go to galleries. I do like fashion. I’ll get an inspiration for the color from a dress, maybe a color from a painting, but also really random things. For example, I was recently working in Miami and there was a little coffee shop that was right on the side of the railway. And you’d never get that here now with health and safety. So they had these kind of rubbishy old chairs outside. And literally, the rail track was from here, like 10 foot away. And I looked out and the chairs were these kind of vintage orange chairs.

Skip to 8 minutes and 30 seconds And by default, they’d put an orange tape across so that you wouldn’t go onto the railway line. And then these railway carriages were coming past and painted in a very, very dark gray. And I was just standing there looking at the bright orange and the bright tape and the dark gray. And this was in a sort of dirty old coffee shop. And I thought, my God, what a great color combination. So that stuck in my head and I used it when I got back on a shoot. So it’s random. But I’ve always got my eye out. I’m a magpie really.

Skip to 9 minutes and 19 seconds I think London has got a lot of color about it. We’ve got interesting, incredibly interesting architecture. The House of Commons is bonkers inside. Some of the wallpaper is nutty. But then it makes me smile and I think, OK, that was wacky in the Victorian times, and it’s still wacky now, so good for them.

Skip to 9 minutes and 44 seconds I am now finding– because we’ve got a great market culture here– I do find the colors of the markets extraordinary. I really, really love that. What I do love about the place is that they’ve started to paint the shop fronts different colors. So everybody’s got an interesting window, an interesting door. People have gone away from black doors, gray doors, white doors. We’ve got blue doors, orange doors, yellow doors, yellow windows. And that just really makes me smile that people now have the confidence to use color outside as well as inside. I think London is quirky. It’s completely full of color despite our climate. And there are some joyous experiences to be had in London with color, I think.

Skip to 10 minutes and 34 seconds Certain colors make me feel happy.

Skip to 10 minutes and 39 seconds I’ve mentioned harmony a lot because I think that’s very, very important with color. So it makes me feel rested in a room. It makes me feel sometimes uplifted when I walk in. And I never really ever got that from my white room. I’ve got a bedroom that’s a kind of plastery pink.

Skip to 11 minutes and 5 seconds And I’ve got a bed that’s kind of a silky, minty green. And then I’ve got curtains that are vibrant Schiaparelli pink. And I just completely love the room. And the curtains– it’s like being on stage because you have this bolt of color. When you walk in the room, the sun is behind. You have this bolt of the most extraordinary fuchsia color running around the room. And I just think, gosh, this is better than a bottle of wine. My curtains are better than a bottle of wine. I’m not sure everybody would think like that, but I do get a bang out of going in there.

An interview with Marianne Cotterill

Marianne is a successful stylist who often travels internationally with her work. She helps magazines and businesses produce compelling images and films of their editorial material and their products. She does this by finding locations for filming, arranging the settings on location, sourcing, and composing props and product. Most of her work relates to interiors; however, she has other styling work in her portfolio too.

Marianne also works for private clients as an interior designer. Her own home – as you will see! – is available as a location for advertising campaigns and other media uses.

Marianne’s work has been published widely in the media, including in Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Elle ,Vogue Living, Elle Decoration, House Beautiful USA, Brides, Sunday Telegraph, Inside Out, ES Magazine, Grazia, L’Officiel and Living Etc.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

The Power of Colour

KLC School of Design