Robynne de Courtenay has worked in the interior design space for more than 30 years.
She launched the boutique interior design and styling agency, Coloured Pencil, in 2003 and hasn’t looked back. We love seeing Robynne transform properties and I recently chatted with her about what great styling entails and how thoughtful design can transform a home.
Hi Robynne, it’s hard to believe that we are well and truly into 2022 – how has your design business been going?
The last few years have been – in spite of the pandemic – extremely busy, overwhelming and quite incredible. The design space has not slowed down at all. In fact, the Covid landscape has had the opposite effect. People have been spending more time at home, and they are continuing to do so. The focus is very much on creating a space that is both beautiful and functional.
Has the current landscape changed the direction of your work?
One of the things I am hearing people say is that because they are spending time at home, they are sitting back and looking in and out for the first time. This has really driven the restructuring of homes.
And you’re both an interior designer and a property stylist – and we love the styling you’ve done for us on many properties around Darling Point. Can you tell me what each hat you wear entails?
The key difference is in how I approach the styling. With interior design, I work closely with a client to achieve a certain result. It’s an intimate relationship and the process is often an emotionally driven journey. With property styling I need to be quick and adaptable, to think outside the box to continue creating inspiring spaces. My interior design experience gives my styling work its edge.
Can you tell me about what people are asking for in Darling Point?
One of the strongest directions in the design space overall is the desire to create more usable space, and we see this both in Darling Point and beyond. People are re-thinking how they live – and how they can live in a more relaxed space. I don’t see open plan living going anywhere, however, what I do see happening is the rethinking of spaces. Home offices have become a necessary feature, whether that be a nook, a junk corner or a separate room. And couples and families are realising that home works well when there are dedicated spaces to spend time both together and apart. Breakaway zones are becoming really popular and every little alcove is being rethought. People are realising they don’t need so much stuff… more quality. We have seen a throwaway away attitude to some materials. Now it’s really refreshing to see that people are after more meaning and desire to connect with the home.
It sounds as if people are realising just how important that relationship to the home is?
Yes, they are. The way we use our living spaces has shifted radically over the last couple of years. We work from home and we spend more time at home, and many of us have discovered how much we enjoy this way of life.
And how is this newfound way of living expressed in design aesthetics?
Just researching the market?
I’m finding that I’m receiving more requests for interior design work. We’re being asked to incorporate fireplaces into design schemes at the moment. Baths, too. Clients are seeking out top-of-the-range fixtures so that they can spend time relaxing at home in a much bigger capacity than previously seen. Simultaneously, clutter and extra maintenance is out.
It sounds as if it’s about the cohesion of functionality and aesthetics in 2022. How do finishes tie into this?
I think natural and organic finishes will continue to be very popular in 2022, and there is a lean towards clean and simple lines. I personally love to use natural stones and materials. Lacquer is a surprising accent that is looking to make a comeback.
What about outdoor spaces? What do you see happening there?
Gardens will continue to be a major focal point. Gardens can be balcony gardens or expansive home gardens – anything to do with nature is popular. Nature can also be brought inside and I love to use indoor plants when styling.
And what about colourways? What colours do you like to work with?
There is a trend towards more warmth and earthy tones across the board, with pops of colour scattered throughout. I am still loving citrus tones for accents. The Pantone colour of 2022 is Very Peri (purple/blue mauve), and it will be interesting to see how that evolves in the design space.
It sounds as if there is plenty to look forward to in the year ahead. What are you looking forward to most?
Personally, a holiday. Professionally, I’m looking forward to seeing some of the developments that we have been working on throughout the pandemic being completed in the next few months. It will be wonderful to see my beautiful clients move back into their redesigned homes. And in a general sense, I’m hoping to see more kindness shown to one another.
Thanks for sharing your insights with us Robynne. Home really is where the heart is.