Shop aims to brighten post-quake Chch

ABBIE NAPIER
Last updated 10:41 20/06/2014
Lou Barker's Blue Scarlet
Dean Kozanic/Fairfax NZ
NO MORE BEIGE: Lou Barker opened up Sydenham's Blue Scarlet two months ago.

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Lou Barker was sick of decorating clients' homes in shades of beige and started her own interior design and retail business based around a love of colour.

The key message is: Don't be afraid. Especially in post-quake Christchurch, a splash of colour could simply lift the mood.

Barker was working as an administrator at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology when she decided to study interior design part-time.

She's always been into design and the work-study arrangement was a good one. Two years later, she graduated and over the years has worked in several interior design-related businesses, consulting on paint colours, fabrics and design schemes.

She fell in love with fabrics while working at Bolt of Cloth and fell out of love with beige while working for a paint shop.

"That's when the beige thing really hit me," she says. "Tea was a really popular colour range and I started to feel a bit disheartened with the whole beige thing."

This year, she made the leap and started a website and online shop under the brand name Blue Scarlet. Two months ago, she leased retail space in an industrial part of Sydenham and opened a shop and base for her design consulting.

"People are usually just interested to see what this colourful place in Sydenham is," she says. "It's not where you expect a shop to be, which is what's great about Christchurch really."

Barker's shop is packed full of vibrant colours - from cushions to elephant statues, to quilts, armchairs and vintage bikes.

If nothing else, it brightens up a bleak Christchurch post-quake landscape.

Most things are made in New Zealand from globally sourced fabrics, with some items imported.

It's all about colour.

"People don't need to be afraid of colour," Barker says. "People are happy to wear a random top that everyone can see, but when it comes to their homes it seems to be different, even for cushion covers."

Barker is not limited to colour in all areas. She is happy to work with anyone and any level of colour can be built into a space. You could have bright cushions you swap out, or pick one statement piece like a vintage armchair reupholstered in orange.

At the end of the day, the options are endless.

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