For most people, renovating is a one-and-done deal, but for Sam Buckley, it’s been a labor of love for eight years and counting. Shortly after purchasing his first apartment in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2012, he gave the faded yellow walls a lick of paint and took on a roster of roommates, but “I didn’t rush to replace them when they moved out,” says the designer better known as @MrBuckleyInteriors on Instagram. A full-on remodel was in his future.
He originally settled on an all-white palette, inspired by the Scandinavian influences popular at the time. But as his colorful art collection grew, so did his appreciation for bold hues, which he introduced to the flat one corner at a time. Year after year, he took on projects that would guide him deeper into his kaleidoscopic universe: He stripped back the dark window shutters one by one and repainted them; gutted the kitchen; wallpapered the entryway in mesmerizing dots; and added a master bath. Today he only shares his space with one other being: his cat, Roger. Here’s how he learned to embrace his brighter side.
He Experimented in Smaller Spaces
“I was just coming out of my Scandi phase and had started playing around with color more,” Buckley remembers of designing the entryway. A geometric paper by Arte called Corbusier Dots fit the bill because of its geometric nature and tonal burgundy-on-pink scheme. He finished off the space with trim in Incarnadine by Farrow & Ball, which matches the raised dots and gives the windowless space an enveloping feel.
He Followed His Gut
When it came time to replace the kitchen cabinets, Buckley stumbled upon a showroom that displayed the full range of door finishes available from German brand Schüller—and decided he couldn’t choose just one. So he imagined an ombré effect that would feature them all. It was only after he had them installed that he found an old photograph of himself holding a sock in the exact same palette. “It had obviously influenced me subconsciously,” he notes.
He Used Little Details to Bring in Big Color
In many ways, the hallway is a remnant of Buckley’s early approach to decorating. “I had built up a fairly large art collection, so I went neutral to get a gallery feel,” he explains. The two-bedroom, which was built in the Victorian era, has supersized proportions and extra-high ceilings, something he wanted to emphasize in the front (which gets the most sun), while the darker rooms in the back got a moodier treatment. To bring in the missing vibrancy, Buckley hung large-scale art in a rainbow of bold hues, from cobalt to salmon.
The living room, at the front of the apartment, is by far the largest space, with 14-foot ceilings; it felt cavernous before Buckley stepped in. Keeping the walls pale Pavilion Grey by Farrow & Ball, he layered the space with bold furniture, including an orange cabinet by Mon Colonel and a multicolored totem-like side table by Established & Sons. A graphic rug ties everything together.
He Wasn’t Afraid to Test Things Out
The designer has reupholstered his sofa, which he found at a charity shop when he first moved in, twice since he purchased it. Much like the rest of the home, it’s now in its most vivid iteration: a rich red and pink striped velvet from Lelievre. “I’ve never shied away from trying something out,” he says. “If something doesn’t work, it can get recovered or repainted.”
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