Forget what you thought you knew about interior styling and take a step into Greg Natale’s design world.
Pattern, layers and bold colour are just some of the design tools Greg Natale uses in his extraordinary interiors. Modern yet classic, opulent yet sophisticated – Natale has championed a unique Australian aesthetic and, yes, the adjective ‘sexy’ does come to mind.
The winner of numerous awards, including Belle Coco Republic Interior Designer of the Year in 2014 and 2011, and a design collaborator with Porter’s Paints, Designer Rugs and Teranova tiles, Natale took time out of his busy schedule to share some sage interior design advice with Domain.
From practical tips on adding sophistication to your home and making a small room look larger, to styling ornaments and his personal design tricks – we were all ears!
Greg been inspired by the work of the late English designer David Hicks – the way he worked with bold colours, patterns and layering, mixing modern and classic lines, was mesmerising. Danish designer Verner Panton has been another influence for him, particularly his style of layering with repeated patterns.
In terms of contemporary inspirations, he is constantly looking to the worlds of art, design.
The first and most important step for him is to establish the starting point of the project. This could be the architecture of the house, which may inspire the interior design by its lines or tones. Or it could be a favourite piece of furniture that, when reupholstered, may dictate the setting for a new look. Or it could be a treasured artwork, whose design or palette may be the basis for a theme. He will always identify this first, then build up a concept from there.
He would advise first finding your starting point. His favourite colours are green and blue because you don’t know how these will work in the given space. It’s more useful and realistic to work from a particular starting point, then introduce different textures, colours and elements to bring balance, contrast and build up your design.
Investing in a key piece that has been made to last, such as a quality sofa, beautiful rug or étagère [a display piece featuring open shelving and closed cabinetry], is one way to introduce a touch of luxury. A well-made piece will continue to reward you long after the purchase.
You can use accessories to add small touches of luxury throughout – often their materials deliver the luxe factor in themselves. An example might be a pair of elegant marble candleholders, a metallic sculpture or a cluster of ceramic vases.
He like to treat kitchen benches as a piece of furniture in themselves, and pay attention to their form, not just their function. A bench on legs can look elegant, while [wood] panelling can add detail and interest, especially if it highlights or contrasts with lines elsewhere. Choosing a luxe slab of black or white marble for the benchtop and contrasting it below with the opposite monochrome can make a striking statement.
When it comes to displaying your ornaments and accessories, a group of three is a good number for creating an attractive look.
He prefer to go for smaller pieces, but not fewer of them – you still need all the key pieces that make up a warm, layered interior. However, choose furniture with slimmer silhouettes and less height, try one-drawer bedside tables and opt for round rather than square side tables.
Get your main furniture up off the ground – a sofa on legs, for example, immediately gives a sense of more space in a room.
Don’t be afraid of using wallpaper – it can create depth and energy, visually enhancing a room’s dimensions.