Art & Lifestyle

Interior Decorator Lucia Tait Tolani’s Home Colour Commandments

Personal stylist and interior decorator Lucia Tait Tolani on embracing colour at home, even in a rental, and where to shop interiors in Hong Kong 

by Dervla Louli

23 Oct 2019

If you’re too scared to paint your ceiling or don’t know where to begin with wallpaper, Tait Tolani is the decorator you need to have on speed dial. The personal stylist and interior decorator has had her colourful, curio-filled home showcased on multiple magazine covers and is passionate about helping clients turn their houses into homes that reflect their personalities.

Statement colours are a signature part of your design aesthetic. What are your go-to paint brands and shades that you use in multiple projects?

I have used eicó paint exclusively since my previous favourite, Farrow & Ball, is no longer available in Hong Kong. eicó is a great discovery because they can colour match or create any hue and their paint is water based – it is safe for children and pets. It hardly produces a scent when applied, and you can even sleep in the room the same night as application. I’m currently working on a project where we’ve developed a raspberry and a deep teal together and I am so looking forward to seeing the results. 

What are a few golden rules for colour combining at home?

You need to strike the right balance between contrast and harmony. In some spaces having a striking colour combo creates a welcome energetic moment, while in others your eye needs to be able to rest. Most of all, pick shades that make you feel something. 

What are some health-conscious home decor companies you can’t live without as an interior designer?

The most important room for health-conscious home decor is a nursery or child’s room. I try to keep these spaces as non-toxic as possible, from the furniture down to the mattress and bed linens. I look for green certifications and brands with wellness in their DNA. I find The Tot has a thoughtful curation for kids and they ship directly to Hong Kong which is key. Incorporating vintage pieces throughout a home is a sustainable option which I’m already drawn to. As they say, ‘they just don’t make them like they used to!’. 

Do you have any fail-safe decor tips for rentals when major renovations aren’t an option?

Paint is the easiest way to freshen a rental that lacks personality, and within a day! What looks like a basic box in white can come to life with a coat of colour. For smaller spaces like bedrooms, I often employ wallpaper as the main design element, and have everything else play off of it. My biggest tip is don’t forget the ceiling. Adding trim, paint, and hero chandeliers with medallions are some of my go-tos. 

Tell us about your work process from inspiration to creation?

Pinterest is an amazing tool for jump-starting the creative process. I find it helps clients show me ideas they love – many of them don’t have the vocabulary to explain what they want but they can easily describe their preferences using a visual aid. They pull favourites from my library of images (many of my pins are also saved from IG), which I then enhance and embellish into a mood board to guide us through the project. Images gathered from Pinterest also help me communicate with local Hong Kong craftsman when I don’t have the language and need to be super specific.

My concepts and picks are often inspired by my travels, and that includes sourcing pieces and vendors in other cities (NYC and London are favourites, as is Paris for the flea markets) and travelling for trade shows. This year I did both Salone del Mobile in Milan and Maison & Objet. Going to fairs helps me keep a finger on the pulse of design and refreshes my eyes. 

What Hong Kong interior décor companies do you love working with?

The company I most love to work with here is Altfield. The staff (namely Amanda and Victoria) have been so supportive since I decided to dip my toe into decor. They have really encouraged me. I adore the brands Altfield makes available to designers in Hong Kong. My favourite for wallpaper is Cole & Son (they also carry well-loved de Gournay), and for fabric I tend to use Pierre Frey, Gaston y Daniela, Scalamdre and Jim Thompson. I often finish a room with their small decor pieces, including lamps and side tables. 

What are your favourite websites, brands, designers and boutiques for sourcing pieces for clients? 

I find my statement furniture pieces on 1stdibs, but I also like Chairish and DeCaSo for easy pieces like lighting and rugs. I find such interesting dealers and collectors via both outlets. I appreciate heritage brands such as Soane, whose rattan pieces are still weaved by hand, while I also covet indie studios such as Draga & Aurel who work with materials such a resin.

Vintage home decor is a big part of the sustainable shopping movement. What pieces from what eras and designers should we have on our radar to collect?

Mid-century modern is still having a moment, but now 1970’s organic glamour is also hot. I’ve been seeing a lot of super stuffed low sofas from or inspired by this era, as well as fringed lighting and all things Gabriella Crespi. 

What are the items that turn a house into an elegant home?

For me, a book collection and plants turn a house into a home. A library enables your guests to learn more about you at just a glance, while every home needs living elements – potted greenery or cut flowers work, and extra points for a pet! 

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