When design duo and married couple Russell Whitehead and Jordan Cluroe first founded their interior design practice 2LG Studio (2LG stands for ‘2 Lovely Gays’, as they are fondly known), their mission was to help people become freer and more confident with creative design. Whether through embracing bold colours (a key part of their signature style), working with patterns or remembering to leave room for playfulness, their aim was to bring out the joy in decorating. Now they’ve put all they’ve learnt into a new book, Making Living Lovely. Here they share their tips for injecting some positivity into your home.
Use colour as a starting point
Colour can be so evocative and is a wonderful starting point for a design. There are plenty of great places to find colour inspiration, from your mother’s hair colour to your first favourite pair of shoes or an album cover you love. But colour can also be as divisive as it is unifying, so how do you avoid colour conflict? Interrogate your choices and learn to tell stories with colour, so that all who live in and experience your space can appreciate your colour story with you.
How you use colour can transform the way you live in your home and make your experiences of everyday life better. Begin to think about colour as a positive force and explore its impact on your interiors. If you love grey then feel happy and confident in that; if you are passionate about pink, embrace that and run with it.
Create an interior roadmap
The interior roadmap is our most powerful tool, which we’ve developed over years of working with clients on their homes. The roadmap is designed to help you focus your ideas and it works no matter what stage you are at in a renovation.
Take a pen and paper, not your phone; put that down for a moment to engage in something analogue. Pick a pen colour that makes you happy or enjoy the simplicity of pencil on paper. Let yourself think freely and visualise your home as you want it to be, a home that expresses who you are. What would it look like?
Your roadmap is simply a list of words about what you want to achieve with your interior – a palette of colours, materials, functions and feelings that form the bigger picture. Trust your gut and choose three things for each category below that you feel drawn to.
Three colours: Feel free to go wild here without worrying at this stage about how to combine your three colours. Whether bold or soft, choose shades that make your heart sing.
Three materials: Think of your ideal flooring, surface materials and fabrics. Do you like brass, concrete, linen, gloss tile, terrazzo or blackened ash? Choose whatever feels most important when you close your eyes and picture the home you would love to live in.
Three feelings: What do you want your space to make you feel? Calm, loved, safe, happy, energised, reflective, connected? This is about the atmosphere you want to create.
Three functions: Whether entertaining, relaxing, working, playing, crafting, cooking – this is whatever your priorities will be in your space. Think positively about the best of what your home can be and include whatever floats your boat.
Interiors are without gender
Think about colours in terms of the feelings they evoke and the way they interact in a space, rather than allowing yourself to be dictated to by social stereotypes. Colour is neither masculine nor feminine, nor are soft finishes ‘female’ and hard ‘male’.
We are so over the ‘pink is for girls and blue is for boys’ thing. It’s reductive nonsense. Throughout history the gendering of colours has fluctuated endlessly. Pink has been a male colour in the past, so when did it become exclusively female? Our home is predominantly pink and we love it, so there! Free yourself from gender constraints and go with what makes you happy.
Don’t be afraid of pattern
When used with confidence, a pattern draws you in to a space and gives your room depth and impact, so it’s important to think about where you want to put it. Don’t just throw it into the mix with abandon: it deserves more of your time. If you love a pattern, but don’t know how or where you want it yet, that’s OK, too. The solution may reveal itself later, and even if it doesn’t, your pattern can always appear in small doses as cushion covers, like a little gift for those who linger on your sofa.
The function of pattern is to add depth and beauty, bring connection and create joy. If you have identified a pattern that brings back fond memories, creates new ones or simply lifts your spirits, then it is worth adding into your design.
Keep an open mind, and an open home
An open home will have unfinished bits – the odd chip in the paintwork, a stain you couldn’t get out, a room you haven’t quite got right, a paint colour that doesn’t make you smile yet, a cushion too many and a plant too few. An open home lets your friends in to spill red wine on your new worktop and embraces the marks on the floorboards that come with life (and high heels). An open home is somewhere that your family gather and your friends come to when they get dumped on. It is a space to make new friends and start new ideas that could take your life in unexpected directions.
The journey of designing your home is about the experience of living in your space and evolving with it, and the only destination is happiness. This might sound cheesy, but there is a beauty in every stage of your design journey, whether you are building your own house, styling a shelving unit in your first pad or decorating your childhood bedroom. The point is, it is not a race and no part of that journey is more or less valid than another.
Above all, be kind
What you put out comes back to you – it’s a basic law of the universe. If you put positivity and love into your home, it will come back to you in your life, so on your journey to self-discovery through design, be kind to others (and to animals, for that matter), but also – and perhaps most importantly – be kind to yourself.
Stop judging yourself, stop worrying what anyone else thinks, and look after your own needs for a bit. When you take care of yourself by creating a home that nurtures your soul, refuels your human solar panels and facilitates your dreams, you will be much better equipped to be kind to the rest of the world.
‘Making Living Lovely: Free Your Home with Creative Design’ is out now (£19.95, Thames & Hudson)