Design Insider – Mairi Helena on colour, pattern and design

Mairi Helena is a Scottish designer creating surface pattern prints and soft furnishings, producing high-end luxury accessories such as velvet cushions, lampshades and wallcoverings for home interiors. In addition to designing, Mairi is a commercial product and portrait photographer capturing lifestyle photography for fashion, design and craft businesses.


How important is colour in your life?

I love colour and how it can play such an important role on our mood and well being. I always find it very liberating when being surrounded by colour or working with colour in design and interiors. I find it very rewarding introducing colour into an interior scheme or experimenting with it in design or simply capturing colour by camera when out and about in the countryside. 

What is your starting point for a collection or colour scheme? Where does inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from the beautiful textures, patterns and colours found in the Scottish landscapes. I love any excuse to travel Scotland, in particular the West Coast. I feel very lucky that I have found a way to combine the three things I am most passionate about; photography, travel and design. Often it is a trip away that sparks a new design or idea for a theme or a collection. Photography of an area, a walk or even a weatherbeaten tree can be the trigger for a new idea!

Many of your designs have complex patterns and layered colours within them, yet retain a relaxed and calming feel...what's your secret?

Thank you, that’s very kind! I really enjoy developing designs in layers. I find that a design can change dramatically from start to finish. I love the experimental process and although I often have an idea in mind at the beginning, sometimes by the end the colours and pattern have ventured down a different track altogether! So I like going with the flow and seeing what develops! If I try to be too controlled with my ideas, then I can find it limiting so I’ve learned to embrace the experimental process!

What colours speak to you? Do you have favourite colour palettes or tones? Any colour trends you love at the moment?

My Island Botanist design contains all my favourite colours - I love deep blues, rich turquoises, a hint of coppery bronzes as well as a splash of ochre! I think it’s because it reminds me of the sea, hence my draw to the West Coast of Scotland in particular. There’s something about being next to the sea that’s very calming…

Mairi Helena Island Botanist

In contrast to the colours above, I also like the trend for incorporating earthy, clay colours..there’s something very grounding about these colours. We have recently painted our bedroom in Craig & Rose Dark Truffle and used Pentland on our radiators and to upcycle our chest of drawers - we love it!

Mairi Helena bedroom

What tips can you give people to help them to introduce colour into their homes?

An exercise that can really help to pin down your interior style and favourite colours is creating your own mood board. In my view, it’s an essential starting point to help you identify your paint colours, fabric choices and finishes. Whether you use Pinterest or prefer the process of getting stuck in with the glue and glossy interior mags, the art of creating some kind of board which helps you to draw together ideas and styles I think is a key starting block when approaching a room makeover of any kind. Pinning colours and laying them next to each other can be so beneficial when trying to visualise the overall look. I try not to stop at paint colours, fabrics and furniture but instead look at textures that are inspiring, materials that sit well with each other, words that are meaningful and photographs that speak to you. I find this not only helps to pull everything together but gives you more ideas when styling and decorating the room.

Can you give us some examples of ways that people can combine paint colours with your beautiful wallpaper designs?

I’ve written a little blog on ‘Colourful Wallpaper and Paint Mood boards to Kickstart Your Interior Decor Ideas’. I hope that it provides a few starting ideas on how to pair my collection with your Craig & Rose Vintage range, such as Highland Tundra with Tintern Stone, or Summer Thistle with Kitchen Gold and Pullman Green

pullman green

Tell us about your new collection!

I’m delighted to reveal my new wallpaper collection for Spring 2019 ‘The Explorer Collection’, which has been inspired by travels around Scotland’s iconic peaks, majestic Munros and loch sides. There are eight new wallpapers within the range and they all represent a different travel journey we have made around Scotland over the past year, including the Isle of Skye, Glen Coe and the Summer Isles. I hope you enjoy them!


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    1. Payne's Grey
      Payne's Grey


      A dark iron blue with hints of warm grey, this shade was used by 19th century painters as a warmer alternative to black. Inspiration for this colour was taken from the Modernist period. Use with our 1829 White Undercoat.

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