With a background in events and hospitality Amy Shirlaw also draws on her studies in art history to create her signature dramatic interiors.

WORDS: Alison Gibb | PHOTOGRAPHY: Douglas Gibb

Iwas brought up in a home drenched in colour and pattern. My mother was a professional hotelier and a pioneer actually of the boutique hotel movement here in Edinburgh, so I have been immersed in exotic wallpapers and bold paint colours since I was a small child. I went on to study art history and worked in events for over ten years, mainly comedy festivals, creating fun but temporary spaces for stand-up comedians. I realised that I wanted to put my energy into creating more permanent spaces so retrained recently as an interior designer. I bought this flat at the same time, having had quite a nomadic lifestyle working in festivals all over the world, I had decided to settle down and realised that my flat would be a showcase for my work as a designer.

I wanted to create a colourful environment with lots of fun touches. You cannot work in comedy for ten years, without developing a little bit of a sense of humour: it is unavoidable! As an art historian I had loved studying the pop art movement, I wanted my flat to have some kitsch, tongue-in-cheek moments despite its grand Victorian proportions.

The Victorian period features serve as a backdrop to a masculine, mid-century layer, which acts as a foil to my more frivolous, feminine tendencies. The result is a dramatic, yet quirky interior, achieved on a tight budget. There are no curtains for instance. I could not possibly afford the acres of fabric required for these windows, particularly in a fabric I actually liked, so I have learnt to love the working shutters. My aim was to create an interior where friends and clients would feel welcome to drop by at any time for an inspirational chat and maybe even a cocktail!

A bit about me

I have recently launched an interior design business, Amy Shirlaw Interiors, I share my home with my little black cat, Angostura Bitters.

Where I live

My home is a two-bedroom Victorian ground floor apartment in central Edinburgh. I moved in a couple of years ago.

What I wanted to change

My flat had been a rental for many years. It was a bland magnolia box with no personality; I wanted to inject colour and life into it.

How I made it my own

I engaged a decorator the week I moved in to paint all the walls in various hues of rich sea greens and deep blues.

Favourite part

It has to be the Andy Warhol wallpaper I have hung in the kitchen, called ‘Where’s Warhol’, a licensed screen print from the Warhol Foundation.

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