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Current as of 23/02/17 03:59PM NZST

Stairway to inspiration

By Leanne Moore

Opting for safe neutrals simply didn't come into the equation when Alex and Jeff Fulton began decorating their Christchurch home.

A traditional old-English feel to the exterior (complete with red brick base and leaded windows) is traded for vibrant colour and eclectic style the moment you walk in the door.

Alex, an interior and product designer, sees her home both as a blank canvas that can be used to inspire clients, and a family home where the couple's children, Isla, 4, and Violet, 2, will enjoy growing up.

In fact, the couple was so certain the house was right for them that they bought it before they'd even seen inside. "We'd always known about the house because Jeff's cousin owned it," explains Alex. "Seeing the interior of the house for the first time was nerve-racking," she says.

"But it was also so exciting. We both knew immediately it was the one: the house we were looking for, the home to bring our kids up in. It has such a proper solid family feel, with the bedrooms upstairs and the living downstairs." The house had been used as a rental, and immediately needed to be freshened up.

Alex gave it a dose of her trademark love of vibrant colour and pattern. Some of her ideas - like painting over the original dark panelling in the hallway with white - raised a few eyebrows. But she knew the hall had to be white to show off the multi-hued striped carpet she had specially commissioned for the stairs.

"I love having stairs; I've got a real thing about them.

Seeing the kids sit on them, it just says family to me. I had the carpet in my head; I could see it so well and knew exactly what I wanted. What I couldn't do was find it anywhere." Luckily, Alex discovered a company which custom-made the striped stair carpet. She says successful decorating is all about choosing what to save, and what to splurge on.

"I'm not looking to spend money - I'm all for buying through Trade Me and picking up bargains from garage sales and second-hand shops - but there are times when I have such a fixed notion of something in my head that it's easier to buy bespoke.

That way my clients and I get exactly what we want and it gives me so much pleasure seeing my ideas realised."


Alex Fulton's tips on bringing colour, texture and pattern into your home.

INSPIRE: Collect images you love from magazines - you'll soon see a colour theme emerge - then look for objects, wallpapers, rugs and furnishings in those colours.
DARE: Don't be afraid to mix colours - there really are no rules that can't be broken. If you like it and it fits, then it's right for you. Have faith in yourself and your style.
IMAGINE: Think outside of the square and use fabrics in unusual ways. Combine stripes and patterns together on one chair for maximum stand-out effect.
BE BOLD: Push boundaries - that's how to be creative.
GROUP IT: When grouping colourful objects together start with the things you love - you can always add or take away as you feel it's necessary.
GO WILD: Go nuts, you can always paint over it.

* Leanne Moore is the editor of Your Home & Garden. For more on the Fulton home, see the issue on sale now, or visit

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