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Home visit: dare to decorate with dark colours

A black and grey interior is a bold choice, but home is the place to please yourself. Inside Pati’s family home in Cardiff, where function has to come first, see how she makes it beautiful too…

A black living room with cowhide footstool.
A black living room with cowhide footstool.

Make bold choices ‘Emotionally, we see blacks and greys as positive colours,’ says Pati. ‘My husband Colin has spent years in and out of hospital after serving in the army, so I wanted our home to feel like the opposite. The bright accents create a contrast against the dark base and distract from the disability adaptations. I think the less money you have, the more creative you become – we’ve made this home our own. It’s our playground, a place where we don’t have to take life too seriously.’

Bring light to the dark ‘People say dark interiors only suit big houses… It’s not about the size of the place, it’s how you use it! We have to keep our floorspace clear – but that leaves us the walls and surfaces to play with! All of the eccentric touches are pieces of me. I had a very traditional upbringing, so my style, my tattoos… I guess that’s my way of rebelling,’ says Pati.

Create an illusion In reality, this compact hallway is even tinier than it looks. But no space is too small to make a statement. Pati’s customised STÄLL storage unit keeps this busy area in order. And her choice of colour has also helped to make it feel spacious: ‘Dark walls have this amazing effect of erasing corners and making areas appear bigger,’ she says.

Close and personal A compact kitchen can sometimes be the most convenient. Having less space encourages you to get things in order. ‘I’m the main cook of the house, so I know exactly where everything is kept. It helps to have the essentials, like knives and chopping boards, close at hand,’ says Pati.

Display with a handmade twist Create an open display to showcase some personality. Pati’s shelves are made from old scaffold board that she restored and installed herself. ‘Believe it or not, I used to be terrified of using a drill. Now I’ll go to all kinds of lengths to make sure there are nice things to look at,’ says Pati.

Everyday luxury Pati has dressed her bedroom with layers of cosy textiles and metallics that give it a luxury feel. ‘The bed was the first piece of furniture we got. We’d been using sleeping bags on the floor, so finally having a mattress was pure luxury! Ten years on, we still don’t have much money, but this has made us resourceful. I used craft gems to update the headboard,’ says Pati.

Room to grow Help kids to create a space that can evolve with them. Changing the bedspread and textiles are easy ways of making a bedroom reflect their style, without having to repaint. ‘Our daughter Olivia is nine going on 19! She’s certainly developing her own mind and style,’ says Pati. See more ideas from Olivia’s room here.

Take it outside Extend your interior style to your outdoor space. If it’s not undercover, invest in furniture designed for outdoor living, like Pati’s SKARPÖ armchairs. Then when the weather permits, she brings out accessories like cushions and throws to make the garden feel like an extra living room.

Are you risk-takers by nature?
‘Yes!’ says Colin. ‘We took the biggest chance on our relationship. I was in a bad place. Pati couldn’t speak any English and there was an 18-year age gap between us. But we didn’t care. We dropped everything and moved in together.’

What does home mean to you?
‘Over the years, Colin has had some health complications so we can be quite introverted. But we’ve learnt that bringing the outside world in can be just as special. Home is our restaurant, cinema, photo studio and even a meeting place for the charity work I do for army veterans,’ says Pati.

What’s the best thing about your home?
‘That we do things for ourselves – not for anyone else. My friends all have magnolia on the walls and they’ll openly tell us that they don’t like our style. But you shouldn’t care what anyone else thinks,’ says Pati.

Our home, our world Pati and Colin’s home is a two-bedroom terraced house inside a little close. On the ground floor, the entryway leads from the living room and combined dining area to the kitchen. Both bedrooms and the adapted bathroom are on the second floor. ‘Even though it’s small, it’s full of character. It’s our little world,’ says Pati.

We love to see our customers get creative with our products. Go for it! But please note that altering or modifying IKEA products so they can no longer be re-sold or used for their original purpose, means the IKEA commercial guarantees and your right to return the products will be lost.

Made by

Interior stylist: Sam Grigg
Photographer: Alicia Taylor
‘Victoire’ tray on wall in first image:
Follow Pati on Instagram: @patirobins