I recently spent an incredible, inspirational day with legendary interior designer and stylist, Abigail Ahern. I’m in a generous sort of mood so thought I’d share the pearls of wisdom I picked up….
Abigail is all about eclecticism – its about decorating from the heart rather than following the rules of good taste or trend forecasts. For her, good design and successful interiors are about filling your space with things you love rather than following the rules of good taste or trend forecasts. Perhaps the only rule she follows is ‘more is more’ – filling each room with layers of texture and pattern, creating quirky vignettes to draw the eye, bold artwork, flowers and cool fighting to create truly mesmerising space.
She is perhaps best known for her use of deep, rich, moody hues in her interiors. She eschews what she calls the “beige haze coma” in favour of truly eclectic interiors with a real sense of drama and glamour.
In Abigails own home you will find rich black ceilings, oversized chandeliers hanging low over kitchen worktops, giant faux cacti and junk yard tables spray painted in neon shades.
Sounds crazy perhaps, but I promise it all works. So, in an effort to share the wisdom here are just a few tips from the very lovely Abigail…
Abigail’s number one tip for working on eclectic interiors schemes is to restrict your colour palette. The idea is that a more restrained and refined palette gives you more freedom to mix colour, pattern, texture and scale in your furnishings… create a simple backdrop so you can have more fun with mixing everything else up.
Play With Scale
Play with proportions in your space – put things that are “too big” with things that are “too small”. This gives contrast and makes ordinary items feel much more grand. Use a big lamp or a vase of big blousy flowers on small side tables to instantly add a shot of personality to your room.
Texture is about how different surfaces react to one another and create contrast. A velvet sofa with a wool or leather cushion looks a million times better than a velvet sofa with a velvet cushion. So mix up your textures and use them to create layers of interest in your room. Use lots of different fabrics (cotton, wool, leather, silk, linen…) and different surfaces (marble, glass, painted wood, lacquer…) and keep adding more layers until satisfied. More is more!
This point is really about how unexpected combinations of styles in a space make it really interesting. Its about actively working to avoid things that are “matchy matchy”. Abigail’s rule is to always throw one item in to a room which doesn’t make sense, which is unexpected. Perhaps a chair in a bold colour, a quirky cushion or a witty lamp. A little bit of friction adds energy to a room and makes it a more dynamic place to spend time.
Abigail writes a fabulously witty blog and has a great range of accessories available through her store in Islington and online.
For more information and inspiration visit. I can also highly recommend her latest book, titled ‘Decorating with Style’
All photos taken with kind permission of Abigail Ahern.