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Colour conversation with Gilly Montgomery, Colour stylist

Gilly Montgomery has been a Colour Consultant and Personal Stylist at House of Colour for 19 years, covering Bristol and North Somerset. She also contributes to the family business, TRE3DOM, which designs and builds beautiful bespoke treehouses.

For our latest competition we have teamed up with Gilly to offer an exclusive two-night stay in a luxury eco treehouse in Somerset for two – plus, colour analysis or colour refresh (once travel restrictions are lifted, of course). Read all about her colour journey in our new colour conversation...


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Melissa often describes you as her ‘colour guru’ and you have analysed the colour palettes of many of the Kettlewell team. When did you first discover colour analysis?

I had my colours done about 22 years ago with Carolyn Miller, one of the founders of House of Colour. Wow, I can’t believe it was that long ago now! I was totally inspired – it opened up a whole new world of possibilities and creative confidence for me. I didn’t realise it at the time, but it was the very thing I’d been looking for.

For many years before that I’d run residential groups at home with my husband based on personal growth, self-esteem and relationships, as well as Red Tent women’s workshops. What I realised was that inner growth needed to be expressed on the outside too, as the next natural step. 

What inspired you to set up as a colour consultant?

Having returned to Carolyn for a Style Day, I asked her if she would train me to analyse colour. She sent me off to House of Colour and so the story began.

What season are you, and how does wearing your best colours make you feel?

I am a Jewel Winter, which is the brightest part of the winter palette, so no hiding there! As my hair has become more silver in the last ten years, and after a colour rerating, I realised that my wow colours had become lighter and even brighter. Contrast is key as you get older, as we start to ‘fade’ a bit. People naturally turn to beiges and pale pinks, anything to hide, but it’s actually even more important to be bolder.

My colours make me feel fantastic, confident and comfortable in my skin, and I have endless fun creating different combos as I dress in the morning and consider what I am going to be doing during the day.

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Gilly looking fabulous in her Winter colours!

One of your clients described you as ‘the little angel on my shoulder each time I go shopping.’ How much does feedback inspire you? Any particularly memorable colour consultations and clients?

Feedback is always wonderful, especially hearing how people’s lives have been changed. Sometimes I’ll have a chance meeting with a client from years back who I haven’t heard from because they’ve just got on with the journey themselves and integrated it into their lives. I love to empower people to do that, make it theirs, and only come back when and if they need more support or input.

I have quite a few clients who have had ‘aha’ moments when they’ve been with me for a consultation, sometimes being moved to tears or having a deeper realisation about themselves. One lovely lass came for a weekend course, treated by her mother-in-law. She was in her twenties, a divorce lawyer and happily married, but she had found herself becoming ever more depressed. In the Saturday session she turned out to be a beautiful Sweet Pea Summer with all those soft blended colours – very different from the black and navy she was used to wearing. She burst into tears of surprised joy.

The next day was Style, and we discovered that she was a Natural Romantic and looked good in soft tailoring, using curved or draped lines in luxurious natural fabrics. Natural Romantic is a glamorous, feminine and flirty style – a million miles away from what she’d been wearing! She was in shock and realised that it was no wonder she felt so alien in her lawyer’s ‘uniform.’ Soon after these revelations, she began to consider family mediation work, which was much more suited to her nurturing, gentle nature, and she applied to do the training. Last I heard she was extremely happy with a young family and part-time job in a law firm on the mediation, support side of things.

Keira from Kettlewell discovering she is a Jewel Winter

What advice do you have for anyone considering colour analysis?

Do it! You’ll never look back. 

You’re passionate about supporting people in their colour journey, professionally as well as socially, and offer consultations for business owners on how to project their companies and attract their ideal clients. Tell us about that.

I've worked on several projects over the years in collaboration with Huw, my architect son, creating optimum space, which is Huw’s area of expertise, and colour combinations, which is mine. We work together to reflect the business owner and his/her business so that it’s the ideal environment for the staff, and importantly the customers, so they experience what it says on the tin. This has so far been primarily in offices but we also worked with a very successful restaurant, keeping its unique style, while giving it an edge.

How does your love of colour penetrate into other areas of your life, e.g. your home and the interior design of your treehouses in Somerset?

During this lockdown I’ve had such creative fun revamping our hall with a silver-grey sofa covering and wonderful Guatemalan fabric cushions in bright Winter colours. My son arrived back from Central America just before lockdown and we’ve a had great time doing this together.

With the treehouses, it’s my job to work with the colour palettes to create different moods. It makes a big difference to people's first impressions and to the experience
of their stay. We’ve chosen Summer tones in the Orchard Rooms treehouse (blue based/ cool/muted) to create a calming retreat space and, from the feedback we get, we know that this has been exactly people’s experience. They love it! I work closely with the client to ensure that the treehouse setting is tailored to provide the optimum result for their needs.

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Treehouse kitchen designed using the Summer palette.

How did TRE3DOM come about as a family business?

The seed of the idea was planted when the boys were young. They would spend time climbing trees, making dens with their friends, and playing in the treehouse that my husband David built for them on an old stump in the garden. A few years ago, Huw, who is passionate about creating small adaptive spaces inspired by nature, suggested that we could build a treehouse at the top of our land for holiday lets, and that would give us a pension.

After looking into the viability of this, David and Huw built the Orchard Rooms Treehouse, which we have been letting through Canopy & Stars. For a year now, couples have been staying for two or three days, sometimes up to a week. It’s been fully occupied until the recent crisis, which has given us an opportunity to run some repairs. We’ve been missing our lovely visitors, though – sometimes we hardly see them after we’ve handed them the key and they go off to discover and explore the space for themselves.

Owen, our eldest son who lives in Hong Kong with his young family, is the entrepreneur of our family. He loved the idea of the treehouse and had the vision of offering these to individuals, farmers and landowners to help them diversify their income sources, and also to hotels and golf courses to create interesting stay-overs. David is the project manager, who is an artisan, builder, craftsman in wood and passionate about trees, nature and creating exquisite spaces. Huw is the Architectural Designer. The 3 in TRE3DOM represents each of them, bringing a unique skillset to the table while sharing a vision for fun, sustainable design.

This vision has now expanded to garden offices, which has turned out to be very relevant as people realise the benefits of working from home. We have just started building the TRE3DOM office in our garden, which is a different style (the shape is a hexagon instead of the pentagon of the present treehouse) and has a fold-down double bed, which is useful when the family comes to stay.

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David and Huw mid-build...

...the completed treehouse!

We are so excited to be collaborating with TRE3DOM for our latest competition. The treehouse looks like the ultimate in social distancing! Give us a little taster of what the lucky winner can expect...

The treehouse is situated in a magical spot hidden away at the top of our land surrounded by nature; the bunnies playing around, baby squirrels, the occasional glimpse of our resident fox and a symphony of bird song.

It is a chic, spacious retreat space with all mod cons, including a fully equipped kitchen and bathroom, complete with fantastic Essentially Yours skincare products for pampering.

There are balconies either end to chill out on with a drink or a lazy breakfast, and down below is a wood-fired hot tub, fire pit and barbecue, and even an outdoor shower and more chill out space! The winner will receive a welcome hamper of local Somerset produce to enjoy while settling in.

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The prize also includes a Colour Analysis or refresh for two…

Yes, that can be arranged down in the main house as a morning session with lunch, or, if you want a lazy morning, it can be done in the afternoon. Either way, you’re in for a treat!

Do you have a favourite Kettlewell piece?

I have lots of Kettlewell pieces and I love so many items. I’m particularly grateful for their wonderful jersey shirts. They come in so many colours and, what I really appreciate is the fit and the fabric as it’s almost impossible to get those combinations in the shops except in whites and pastels. This season, I’m really thrilled with my new Leopard Jersey Culottes in Palm Garden. 

And finally, tricky question, but if you had to pinpoint a favourite colour, what would it be?

Now that is a tricky question because it depends on my mood. I totally love the mother-of- pearl ice colours, which give me a real sense of peace. Fuchsia pink is my romantic colour, cobalt blue my dynamic colour, full of energy and life, but turquoise probably takes centre stage as it takes me back to colours of the tropical seas and my days of sailing old classic wooden boats. That’s more than one colour! Is that cheating? 

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To enter our competition for the chance to WIN a two night stay in Gilly's luxury eco treehouse, plus a colour consultation or refresh, click here