Author, journalist and creator of The Colour File shares her online habits, from favourite bloggers to digital music.

Martha Roberts is an author, journalist and creator of The Colour File blog. Her book, Shelfie (Mitchell Beazley, £12.99) was published last year. She writes for a range of publications including Psychologies and The Mail On Sunday's YOU magazine and does colour and shelf-styling workshops. In her guest edit she shares her favourite interiors bloggers, her digital music habits and her analogue reading ones.


My favourite website… Etsy - Over the years I have got so much from Etsy, from inspiration and colour comfort (simply looking at beautiful things to celebrate or to soothe) through to some of my favourite colourful finds. For example, it was through Etsy that I first discovered Michelle Costello, aka @smartie_lids_on_the_beach and her incredible colour wheels made from plastic collected from Cornish beaches. I have three of them at Colour File HQ and every day I feel lucky to own them. The only problem with Etsy is that I can lose myself in it for HOURS in a sort of virtual treasure hunt, hopping from one find to the next until I remember that the world hasn't actually stood still while I've been occupied elsewhere, and I still have work to do, homework to supervise, cats to feed…

My favourite app… Spotify, paired with Shazam. I love music, especially discovering new tracks and acts, and Spotify is the most fantastic way of doing this. I regularly go on an adventure with Spotify by looking at what other people are listening to. Through Spotify radio, I've made some brilliant discoveries, from hip-hop jazz fusion tracks like Loungin' by Guru through to indie folk band Darlingside. I feel that Spotify blasts open my world in the best possible way. For me there wouldn't be Spotify without Shazam. I find myself Shazamming wherever I go. Someone even said to me the other day that they thought I was taking a brazen selfie in a very public place when, in fact, I was just holding my phone up to catch a turn from a speaker on the ceiling. Just to say, if you see me waving my phone in the air, you'll know what I'm doing! I used to be all about vinyl and I still collect it when I go to gigs, even though I don't currently own a turntable (it's on my 'to buy' list).

My blog of choice is… Girl About House - It's an interiors blog by Sarah Mailer - aka @girlabouthouse - and it's a great example of how a blog can be like a beautifully crafted mini online magazine. Sarah takes so much care over both words and visuals. As a former art teacher, she always has an insightful take on the design credentials of the products she writes about. I'm in awe of her attention to detail. She also happens to be a lovely person and possibly the best walker-talker on Instastories that I know. I'm not sure how she manages it without colliding into lampposts - and in high heels, too. Skills.

My internet hero… Emily Murray of Pink House Living - In just three years she's shown how tenacity, talent and hard work, coupled with simply being a decent and generous person, can pay dividends and lead you to realising your dreams. Have you seen her book Pink House Living? It is truly lickable. Her writing is witty and informative and I love seeing how it meanders and bubbles to a clever conclusion. Not only that but wherever she goes there seems to be a party atmosphere and copious cocktails - well, that's my experience of her, anyway.

My favourite podcasts... Inside Stylists and My Dad Wrote A Porno (two very different beasts!) Inside Stylists is the brainchild of the wonderful Emma Morton-Turner and listening to it is like having Emma and her interviewees chit-chatting away in your living room, filling the place with information and laughter. My Dad Wrote A Porno is just hilarious and if you haven't listened to it you should. Jamie Morton, James Cooper and Alice Levine reading out and responding to excerpts from erotic novels penned by Morton's dad (a retired Irish builder) will have you snorting tea out of your nose. Too funny.

My most recent buy online… a book about colour (what a surprise!) and an alphabet print by Eleanor Bowmer. My 12-year-old son (second-in-command, aka SIC) also used my Amazon account last night to buy a Huion U420 USB Graphics Drawing Tablet Board, which I think I'm as excited about as he is. I love shopping online. I remember ordering the first Flat Stanley book from Amazon in 1996 when it was still only a US 'thing' and being so excited when it arrived. Has that thrill gone now that it's so easy to shop that way? I'm not sure it has. I still get a buzz from hitting a 'place your order' button and I think I always will.

Book just downloaded/ read... 'This Is Going To Hurt' by Adam Kay - This is a hilarious but sobering read about a junior doctor working in the NHS. I've actually read it once before but I'm currently reading nightly excerpts with SIC who, unsurprisingly, particularly likes the gallows humour and the bits about blood and gore. I'm a massive fan of non-fiction - I think it's the journalist in me - and regularly find myself drawn to books about 'the extraordinary lives of ordinary people' (as well as the ordinary lives of extraordinary people - you know, presidents mowing the lawn, brain surgeons cooking pasta, that kind of thing). I always read books in 'analogue' form rather than their digital versions because I like the feel, the smell and, of course, the covers of 'real' books. I recently gave away my Kindle because I never use it, even thought it had a gorgeous pink cover.

Favourite tweeter… I'm not often found on Twitter (I'm more of an Instacreature) but I love Caitlin Moran. She's like a conduit for contemporary culture, commenting on anything that is pertinent to our life and times with wit, insight and pathos. I love her books, especially her quote in How To Be A Woman about the glass ceiling: 'It's difficult to see the glass ceiling because it's made of glass. Virtually invisible. What we need is for more birds to fly above it and shit all over it, so we can see it properly.' Utterly, utterly genius.

Favourite instagrammer… For the sheer colour beauty of her feed it would have to be Sophie Robinson @sophierobinsoninteriors. Whenever she posts a picture I find myself metaphorically punching the air and saying 'Yes!' because she gets it so right. She uses colour, form and texture with charm and confidence and I can feel my brain chemistry doing wonderful things (the same 'buzz' that people maybe get from eating chocolate?) when I look at the little squares on her feed. I had the good fortune of speaking with Sophie at a colour psychology event at Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour during London Design Week (hosted by Victoria & Albert Baths and Perrin & Rowe) which surely has to be the highlight of my colour journey so far.

Social media allowed me to meet… Too many people to list without it sounding like a cheesy Oscars acceptance speech! It's been great meeting big instagrammers and famous folk but I can honestly say the best thing has been meeting my 'tribe' - and that is largely other ordinary Instafolk like me. I have plenty of friends from pre-social media days but I'm delighted to have made heaps more since dipping my toe into the online world. People are all too ready to bash social media for its perceived perniciousness but I they need to celebrate the positive side of it, too - it's role as a vehicle for friendship, connection and social change.

Like this? Read more Guest Editor Interviews:

My Web with Turner Pocock, leading interior designers Bunny Turner and Emma Pocock talk about finding inspiration online
My Web with Fiona Humberstone, bestselling author of How to Style your Brand and Brand Brilliance, the Brand Stylist
My Web with Kate Watson-Smyth, the founder of interior design consultancy, Mad About The House

Portrait photograph, courtesy of Marks & Spencer

May 2019

Lydia Mansi