Founder of the award-winning blog and interiors Instagram sensation The Pink House, Emily Murray talks to Katrina Harper-Lewis about embracing colour and creating a wow-factor home
With an Instagram following of 52.6k and a host of digital awards under her belt, there’s no doubt that Emily Murray’s bright and bold styling combined with her honest and down-to-earth tone have struck a chord in the interiors world… and beyond.
Emily started The Pink House blog in 2016 when she was completing the renovation of her Edinburgh home, but soon after adding the final lick of paint, she decided to up sticks and move back to London.
‘When I started The Pink House, I was living in a house that was pink on the outside. I knew we wouldn’t live there forever though, so it was a conceptual brand name as well as the actual colour of my house,’ Emily explains. ‘I’d put a lot into my Edinburgh renovation. It was a beautiful listed building, which I did up in a riot of colour and learnt a lot in the process.’ Surely then it must have been a wrench to leave it behind?
‘Funnily enough, it wasn’t,’ says Emily. ‘I’m a forward-thinking person and I was excited to have a new place to go to.’ What she did experience was a ‘wave of emotion’ from her Instagram followers: ‘People were absolutely devastated for me. It was fascinating, but I suppose people had become invested in the house and I had drawn them in.’
Thankfully for her followers, when Emily, her husband and their sons, Oscar, eight, and Zac, five, moved in to their Edwardian house in London’s Forest Hill just over a year ago, it was the beginning of a whole new chapter for The Pink House.
‘It was a vision in laminate flooring and beige, so it needed to be coloured in,’ explains Emily. ‘I like to feel that heart-leaping sensation when you walk into a room that has a real impact. I don’t need my rooms to feel all serene and zen. I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie [Emily’s eclectic CV spans international gymnast, magazine journalist and a year as a stunt woman]. I want to walk into a house and feel excited by it, so that’s the bottom line.’ And that sense of fun and frivolity shows through in Emily’s styling. She adds: ‘Pink just makes me happy and there has to be pattern and a bit of sparkly stuff. But, on the other hand, every room has to have a story or history to it.’
With such an effervescent and characterful style, where does Emily find her inspiration? ‘Hotels, bars, restaurants and commercial spaces are often the starting point as they tend to be braver and have more of a wow factor than your average domestic house,’ she says. But equally she can be inspired by an outfit, colour combination or even just a certain ‘vibe’.
‘I try to capture those moments to bring something fresh, so as not to feel like I’m just copying another room,’ she continues. Anything from a piece of art or ‘a wall colour that I just have to have’ can trigger an idea, and she admits that she is a veritable magpie for anything colourful. ‘I will often buy something just for the pure love of it without knowing where it’s going to go.’ Conversely, some pieces in Emily’s house take their lead from the interiors themselves. Enter the range of armchairs and cushions that she has designed in collaboration with Sofas & Stuff.
‘I wanted to use a leafy fabric that would tie in with my kitchen. I approached Sofas & Stuff because their products are really high quality and handmade in Britain, and they can upholster in any fabric,’ she says. ‘They had hundreds of enquiries about my two blue dotty snugglers after people saw them on my blog, but they are bespoke, so were expensive. I wanted to create more affordable pieces, like a ready-to-wear (or ready-to-sit) collection, rather than couture.’
Emily doesn’t hesitate in proclaiming the kitchen to be her favourite room, with its bi-fold doors leading straight out in to her south-facing garden, which backs onto woodland. ‘It was the outside that really sold the house to us so the kitchen had to pay homage to that by emulating it,’ she explains. But aside from the botanical prints, it’s the encaustic tiles and pink glazed tiles, pretty pastel accessories and sophisticated metallics that give it that gorgeously grown-up twist. ‘The shots of pink were the last “layer”,’ says Emily. ‘I’d always planned to add the pink to bring an unexpectedness. The marble work surface was a massive indulgence that took it to the next level and the cupboard handles are from Buster + Punch, which I love.’
So, what’s the secret to injecting colour into your house stylishly? ‘People think there’s some secret or trick to it, but if you use colour combinations that you love then it will look great. There’s hardly any way you can get it wrong. Some people keep things neutral and add pops of colour with accessories, but I think that’s a wasted opportunity. I use a lot of grey and navy, which create a good backdrop for the bright colours that I add on top,’ explains Emily, and she says that dark shades can make a room feel warmer. ‘I’m a big believer in painting walls in rich, saturated hues. We had dirty white walls in our old house and when we painted them dark grey it was as if someone had turned the heating up.’
It’s this layering technique that is at the heart of The Pink House. ‘It’s hard to get to a point when something’s finished, so I keep layering until I feel I’ve reached the right balance,’ Emily says. ‘The sitting room started with the high-quality pink velvet curtains and dark blue walls, then I added the Bowie graffiti art and hot pink candles – that’s what takes it from “oh, isn’t it lovely” to “wow” and it’s that “wow” twist that I’m always looking for.’
EMILY’S LITTLE ‘PINK’ BOOK
I love a curated boutique and I fell in love with this one in Shoreditch after seeing it in the Evening Standard. I’m now obsessed and have become good friends with Zoe, who owns it. wagreen.co.uk
We bought our 19th century French refectory table from here. It’s completely warped with marks all over it, but I love it because a) the kids can scribble all over it and b) it feels like a piece of history that we’re adding to. retrouvius.com
COLE & SON
They always have incredible wallpapers. cole-and-son.com
SOFAS & STUFF
I have collaborated with them on my new range, The Pink House x Sofas & Stuff (armchair, £999, cushions, £75 each) sofasandstuff.com/thepinkhouse
I’m always hunting around online for lovely things. This shop is great; I’ve got a beautiful sideboard from here. mustardvintage.com
Images: Susie Lowe