Interior designer and home stylist, Anita Mackenzie, has a distinctive vision that combines the vibrant ethos of India and the eclectic style of Britain. We were graciously welcomed into her home, which is every bit as vibrant and colourful as you would expect it to be. Below, she shares what inspires her style, her perspective on home styling in Singapore, and the art and science of creating harmonious interiors.
Anita's bedroom is a vibrant medley of prints, shapes, and shades of green.
Hi Anita! Can you tell us about your foray into interior design?
I have been in the interiors industry for 12 years, training as an interior designer with the National Design Academy of Nottingham before setting up a home décor store in the UK.
In 2017, what began as a hobby sharing styling ideas for my own home to Instagram was soon followed by informal requests for design help. I finally decided to take the plunge and charge for my styling projects in late 2018. Serendipitously, my husband’s new job brought us to Singapore shortly after.
It was gut instinct that guided my decision to focus on styling in Singapore, rather than move my retail operations here. It was a huge risk, but it paid off — I got my first project in Singapore within 1.5 months of moving and there has been no looking back since.
The abundance of light in Singapore allows Anita to use a variety of colours and greenery in the interiors she styles.
Has being in Singapore changed your approach to styling and design in any way?
Being in Singapore has been wonderful as a home stylist. I have access to fabulous local stores selling pieces from countries with rich craft traditions, like Indonesia and India. I have been loving using teak and rattan furniture, as well as bone inlay and carved wooden furniture. I’ve found many opportunities for customisation, which has allowed me to incorporate a lot more bespoke pieces in my designs here.
The amount of light allows me to use a huge variety of colours too. You don’t have to be as mindful of the seasons or direction of sun as you would in a temperate country at a higher latitude. Add the ease of growing plants and you can create a heady mixture of colour and greenery in your homes.
How would you describe your own personal style?
Urban, eclectic and colourful. My home is warm and lived in — very little is new or shiny. I like mixing vintage furniture from different eras: a bright pink Victorian nursing chair sits next to mid-century arm chairs, opposite a contemporary sofa. I love pieces with history, and I surround myself with things that tell my story and uplift me with their beauty.
"I love pieces with history, and I surround myself with things that tell my story and uplift me with their beauty."
Your home and your design work feature a beautiful interplay of colours, textures and patterns. What draws you to colour and print?
I grew up amid so much colour, texture, and pattern in India. I recall my mother’s saris and their intricate weaves. Each used different craft techniques from across the country, resulting in a varied use of colour and pattern.
Moving to the UK opened new frontiers of awareness. While British textile and wallpaper design borrows a lot from Eastern motifs, the colour sensibility is softer, more subtle, and completely different to what I had seen in India.
Between the two worlds, the mind-blowing array of colours and prints will inspire me for a lifetime.
Anita starts each project by organising shapes and colours to form a balanced whole. Featuring the Organic Cotton Cloud Throw in Sienna Yellow in Anita's guestroom.
A home office nook Anita created for her husband in their guestroom, with patterned walls made using washi tape.
How do you put these elements together to create something that’s both coherent and unique?
I am instinctively drawn to colour and simple shapes. When I design a room, my brain sets about creating balance between strong and light colours, and large and small shapes to create a harmonious whole.
Pattern takes this visual jigsaw to the next level. I love how large patterns give structure to colour, and smaller patterns create surprising mid-tones of colour. Meanwhile, I love how texture adds dimensions and layers that make a colour scheme more tactile.
Each element has a role to play in creating a harmonious whole. How do I judge if it works? Well I can’t exactly give away all my secrets now, can I!
Scattered across Anita's home are vintage lamps of all styles and colours.
There are some wonderfully unique objects in your home. Are there any treasured pieces you’ve brought with you across different homes, and which you’ll keep for a lifetime?
My husband’s and my most treasured pieces are our collection of vintage lamps. We have found them in all manner of antique shops and vintage markets across India and Britain. They are a mix of Art Deco and Mid-century pieces, and several are made of beautiful coloured glass. Safe to say, they will be going with us no matter which corner of the earth life’s journey takes.
Anita beside a mid-century glass pendant lamp, found on eBay, Germany, by her husband, who shares her love for collecting vintage lamps.