Look inside this interior stylist’s beautiful Wicklow home

What I love about chatting to fellow interiors junkies is that, while every one of us loves interiors, when we zero in on the thing we love the most, we all talk about something different.

For me, my obsession is home accessories because they are the tangible homeware objects that give our homes style, personality, and happy feelings.

For Sarah Twigg Doyle—the woman behind the inspirational Instagram account Retwiggd—her obsession is colour. Sarah is an interior stylist and colour consultant. I had a Zoom coffee with her recently and she told me about how she approaches her client’s homes, and also her own home…

The first room I ever painted dark was this office

Zooming me from her home office, Sarah tells me about the irresistible green that surrounds her.

 
 
 
 
 
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“This is the first room I’d ever painted dark except for a bathroom. But a bathroom is different. You can be a bit more adventurous with colour in the bathroom because it’s a small space and you don’t spend time in it. But when it came to painting the office, I’d seen this green colour and I kept seeing it, and it kept really speaking to me. It’s called ‘Green Smoke’ by Farrow & Ball.

Prior to Instagram I’d always erred on the side of caution and played it safe with neutrals. But then when I kept seeing this colour online I thought if you don’t try a brave colour, you won’t really know if it’s for you or not. So I went for it. Now when I look at it I feel it’s a very safe colour, but it felt really brave at the time.”

Colours I once saw as brave now feel safe

I ask Sarah if Green Smoke is safe now, then what’s brave?

“Now, brave would be making the ceiling go green. Or going with a different colour completely. When I first used that dark green, dark colours were only just starting to get popular. Now everybody is painting their kitchen dark green and it’s a really acceptable colour.

It’s the same with ‘Peignoir’, which is this beautiful sort of mauevy, pinky grey. It’s a really unusual colour—you look at it and it’s pink, you look at it in another light and it’s slightly grey, and you look at it in another light and it’s slightly mauvey. I had one room that was all painted in white, and I wanted to be a bit braver so I painted one small section in Peignoir. If I was doing that now I would paint that whole room in that colour but at the time just painting even one wall that colour seemed so daring and so bold.”

 
 
 
 
 
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I apply coaching tactics when I work with my clients

“My approach to decorating really depends on the space, it depends on my mood, it depends on who I’m working with whether it’s for my home or whether it’s for somebody else. When I work with clients I park my own style and taste and I uncover what the client wants and needs.

For example, I’m doing a project for a client at the moment. They’re an older couple. They moved in together during lockdown. They asked me to come in and talk colours. What I might choose for their home might be different, so I don’t go in saying how about this and how about that. I first ask them to tell me, ‘When you look at colours, what colours make you happy?'”

 
 
 
 
 
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“I let them tell me a little bit about that first before I pitch in because if I launch straight into ‘Oh this is a really nice colour, what do you think of this colour?’ then the decision won’t come from what they love.

She said ‘Well, I’m a magnolia girl’. So that was the starting point and my job is to now coach them to discover and choose the colours that make them happy.

I did a life and business coach diploma. I was a coach for quite a while before I got into interiors and actually one of the things I find about working with clients is that 90% of the time I’m there to coach them and hold their hand and make them not be scared. Because everybody says ‘Oh I’ll probably just paint it beige, or I’ll paint it cream, or maybe I’ll just paint it white.’ And then I say yeah, but what if you painted it green or orange or whatever colour makes your heart happy? Because we all have colours that make our heart happy.

Yes, we’re influenced by magazines, and Instagram, and the things that we see on TV or whatever. But ultimately I’m about getting people to not follow trends. They might say ‘Well everybody’s painting their house indigo’ and I’ll say well if you don’t like indigo then don’t do that. Just because everybody else is doing it, why would you do it?

In the last while, everyone’s been painting their walls grey so now everybody wants grey interiors because they feel it’s classy and it’s safe and it’s neutral. I’m like look there’s nothing wrong with grey—and I have grey in my house, don’t get me wrong—but what if you don’t choose grey?”

 
 
 
 
 
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Colour psychology plays a huge part in what I do

“You have to think about how we perceive colour, or how we register colour. Green, blue, and purple are ‘slow’ colours. Our eye reads those colours slower so therefore they’re calming in our interiors. Red, yellow, and orange are immediate colours, so your eye reads those very quickly. It’s why street signs and warning signs are all in those colours because your eye sees them quickly.

I attended an online colour psychology workshop during lockdown. It was run by Colour and Design Consultant Adele Roche. My mind was blown. Adele talks about the psychology of colour and how you see colour and how you read colour. She holds up this colour and you might see green, but somebody else sees yellow.

Another thing I did during lockdown was give free Zoom consultations for anybody who was working on the front line. This woman pinged me and said she had painted her bedroom a mustardy kind of yellow colour, and she couldn’t understand why she didn’t feel calm in the space. I told her it might be because of the colour. It’s a very bright, call-to-action colour. Mustard is gorgeous, don’t get me wrong—and as a cushion that’s lovely—but on your wall in your bedroom where you want a calm and relaxing space, it won’t work. Paint your dining space bright yellow because you want it to feel vibrant, but it’s not for a space that you want to relax in.”

 
 
 
 
 
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You will change your mind as your taste evolves over time

“I’ve always considered myself to be quite a strange person because I was always so obsessed with interiors. I don’t watch a huge amount of telly other than interiors shows. It’s all-consuming. You go into someone’s house and you think, ‘I’d move that sofa over there’ and so on. You get really passionate about things but your taste does change. Cushions I bought two years ago I might not like them now.

We’re doing up my daughter’s bedroom at the moment and it’s really interesting watching her taste evolve. She’s about to turn eleven and the colours that she gravitates towards now are different to what she would have liked two years ago.

 
 
 
 
 
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Everything was pinks and yellows and what I call ‘ice cream’ colours. Now she’s gone completely into rusts and mustards. She wants lots of jungle prints and vibes. There’s still an element of child, there’s still the teddies on the bed and stuff, but it’s with a really cool chunky knit throw.

 
 
 
 
 
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I think this could be my world for the next for the next foreseeable future. In two years time she won’t like this style either but you know, her taste is evolving and her colour preferences are changing.

We’ll keep her walls fairly neutral but her ceiling will have a pattern and we’re doing a wall mural. We’ve done little DIY projects too like we’ve up-cycled a lampshade by painting it gold.”

Now I’ll give anything a go

“When it comes to DIY projects, I’m quite organic. I know roughly what I want to achieve but not always how I’m going to achieve it. We are not joiners, we are not professional carpenters, we don’t lay claim to any skill in this sector whatsoever. My husband calls it guerilla DIY. Basically, it’s just by hook or by crook. It’s trial and error. It’s really just about giving stuff a go, and some things work and some things don’t.”

“We made a round table last year out of pallet wood. We’ve got one of those metal Singer sewing machine bases and we wanted this round table to sit on the base. And we made the table too big so it wobbled. It wasn’t flat. In the winter time we didn’t get round to covering it so the winter did it’s worst to it.

When spring came back around I said this is letting the garden down. We have this really nice garden but a table that we can’t sit at. That’s when I saw this one by Pati Robbins and I said that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Hers is very Aztec. We wanted to pare back the Aztec style so we rebuilt the table top in our own version of this style.”

Patti’s table:

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Sarah’s table:

 
 
 
 
 
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What’s next is not always clear but it’s always exciting

“For a client, it’s way easier, it’s easier to push and to give help whereas for myself I can be a horrendous procrastinator. My hallway project is still sitting there staring me in the face saying, ‘I’m a boring, white-walled hallway, what are you going to do about me?’ I just can’t decide what I want to do. I’ve got like a bazillion ideas. It’s not a lack of ideas, it’s deciding which one of these ideas is the one that’s going settle.

My dream is to someday have a house in the countryside with stone and outbuildings that we can paint and DIY to our heart’s content. Some day when we don’t have to worry about being in the town for schools and that kind of stuff. That’s the dream. Ideally in the South of France is where I’m hoping this might happen!”

Follow Sarah

Follow Sarah on Instagram to keep up to date with her home’s transformations.

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