Torn between a love of literature and a passion for design when deciding which university course he should opt for, Wil Law finally came down on the side of books and left formal education with a masters degree.
Proving that it’s funny how life turns out, he is now a successful home design stylist working for John Lewis, offering free advice and room plans to customers who welcome guidance and great ideas when revamping their interiors. “Even though I’d decided on studying literature, I started playing with design when I was at university and had my own studio where I did screen-printing and designed homeware,” he says.
When John Lewis opened the Leeds store five years ago, he applied for a job, his talents were spotted and he was snapped up. Since then he has helped hundreds of customers in store, on home visits and, increasingly, via Zoom.
“We have been busier than ever since the pandemic when people started taking more interest in their homes but I really enjoy what I do because every single appointment is different,” says Wil. “What I aim to do is help customers find their own style, so it’s not about trends, it’s about what makes people feel happy.”
Introducing fresh ways of styling and encouraging a bit of bravura also yields great results, though he says: “People are getting more confident with colour and that’s good because it can really influence the way a space feels.”
Almost half of his appointments come through his Instagram account @johnlewis_wil, where he describes himself as “that ginger kid that helps you design your home”. It’s here where Hemsworth-born Wil uses his own one-bedroom apartment in Wakefield to showcase his talents. He bought the property three years ago “after lots of saving up” and on the basis that it was affordable, in a good location and it was in a historic building.
While the Grade II-listed property has character and boasts original sash windows, the flat was dark and featureless with all the walls painted white. “I’ve changed the decor a few times as navigating the light levels was tricky and the colours I have used have become more intense, which works. It’s amazing how much you can transform a room by painting the walls.”
He has settled for a mix of neutrals and bright but warm earth tones that are mostly from Little Greene. The hall is a magnificent combination of Middle Buff on top and Ashes of Roses on the bottom, with the two strong colours divided by a white line. “I managed to get the ratio of the two colours right but I knew they needed to be divided, which is why I used the painted white line, which I got straight with the use of Frogtape,” says Wil.
The green in the sitting area of the open-plan living space features a custom-made paint he had mixed. The furniture is mostly from John Lewis, as is the rug. Plants, including an impressive cheese plant, abound and not just because they are the latest must-have. “They really make a difference by adding movement and character to a room and, of course, they improve the air quality,” says Wil, who strategically placed a mirror on the sitting area floor so that it reflects the gallery wall.
He has a large collection of pictures created by artist friends, including Ann Balmforth, Jake Mullins, Ali Appleby and Helen Thomas. These are mixed with inexpensive art prints bought online. He swaps them round and adds fresh ones to ring the changes.
Wil’s top tips when creating a gallery wall are to stick to the same colour frames and to keep the pictures close together. “I’ve used black frames because they tie in with the lamp and the legs on my dining chairs,” he says. When hanging a single picture on a wall, his rule is not to hang it too high as that will unbalance the room.
When tackling his flat, the kitchen area was the most unsettling and, at first, Wil thought he would have to change the white gloss unit doors. Luckily for his bank balance, he decided to try a revamp. “My dad helped me take down the wall cupboards and we put shelving up instead and it immediately felt better,” he says. “The green metro tiles we used also made a big difference and take your attention away from the glossy base units.”
The bedroom walls feature Wil’s favourite dusky pink Ashes of Roses while the wardrobes are painted with punchier Zesty Orange by Little Greene. The bed is from John Lewis and the duvet is 100 per cent linen.
“If I had a light-filled house, I would use more neutrals but they look dull and drab in this flat because the light levels are so low. It needs colour and I’m pleased I’ve gone with it because the spaces really come alive at night when the lamps are on. There’s a hugging feeling that is really welcome after a working day.”
*Look out for Wil’s regular contributions to our Bright Ideas section. He is full of them. Find him on Instagram @johnlewis_wil and in the John Lewis store at Victoria Gate, Leeds, where he is based.
Wil reveals what's on trend
Paint: A minimalist palette of warm neutrals is becoming more popular, along with desert tones that are warm and sunny. These go well with cane and rattan furniture and accessories.
Japandi style: A calm, pared back mix of Scandinavian and Japanese interior design with lots of earthy textures.
Maximalism: This isn’t just about use of colour, it is about pattern layering.
English forest: This style involves woodland creatures and trees.
Folklore: A new John Lewis collection is devoted to this style, which has a fairytale quality. Motifs are Hans Christian Andersen inspired.
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