Expert homestyle advice: Abigail Ahern
The interior design talks to allaboutyou about her favourite room and gives some seriously stylish homes advice. By Rin Simpson.
Interior designer, retailer, teacher and author of A Girls Guide to Decorating, Abigail Ahern lives in an 1860s townhouse in Dalston, East London, with her husband Graham and dogs Mungo and Maud. Renowned for her unique and eclectic style, she reveals just what she thinks about the hottest home trends, gives her top tips for decorating and chooses her pick of the latest, most glamorous must-have home accessories
Q: Whats your favourite room in your home?
Abigail: My favourite part of the house is the lower ground floor which is kind of a hang-out nook plus a dining room and kitchen. The hang-out nook is my favourite part. Its got a big squishy sofa and a couple of chairs and a TV. I have a separate, more formal living room upstairs on the ground floor but I never use it. All the furniture downstairs - which overlooks the garden - is incredibly squishy and comfortable. The furniture upstairs is more formal and impressive but a leather Chesterfield is not a sofa thats great for hanging out in for any length of time.
Q: What are your must haves for the living area of a home?
Abigail: Im quite big on colour so I find it quite weird when people choose furnishings that are very neutral and dont have any zing, any razzle dazzle. My sofa is caramel but Ive got two really beautiful electric blue chairs and a red velvet armchair in mohair. I use high-octane shots of colour to turn a room into something more lively - but it still feels relaxing. Ive got a black and white zebra rug, the coffee table is neutral, the lamps are neutral.
Q: What are your top tips for decorating the living space?
Abigail: Texture and pattern are key. I say this every day in the design school - texture and pattern are the herbs and spices of the design world, if you dont use them youll get quite a dull room and it wont be exciting and tantalising. You can never overdo texture, although pattern youve got to reign it in slightly more. The more texture you use, the more comfortable and soulful a place will be. And include lots of cushions and rugs and elements to make it quite comfy.
Q: Which trends are you loving right now?
Abigail: Ive just got back from the design show Maison et Objet and theres such an emphasis on bronzes and golds rather than the silver weve been seeing a lot of recently. Were all a bit like magpies looking for something shiny, and bronzes and golds are a lot warmer than silver. So Ive got some amazing lamps in bronze and gold and some enormous lacquer bowls. These colours are amazing, especially for this time of year. Having said that, its all about diversity at the moment. Everybody is bolder and more open to different styles now than they used to be. Rather than having one look, people are going for a whole mishmash from minimalist to very traditional to neo-Baroque to Hollywood glam to country. And I think the most exciting design is a combination of all elements to make a eclectic and unique look. People today just want their homes to feel more unique and you cant get that if you buy everything in one style. The most exciting looks take elements that dont really make much sense but somehow, with a use of colour and pattern, theyre reigned in and brought together and they look really wonderful.
Q: Which designers are ones to watch at the moment?
Abigail: I love Kelly Wearstler. A lot of her designs make you a bit uncomfortable because she really flirts with going over the top but she somehow manages to pull it back from being totally nutty. She really pushes the boundaries. She and Jonathan Adler, another designer I really admire - they have a quirky sense of humour which is translated into their interiors. Theyre very upbeat. Theyre glamourous and expensive, but theyre very humorous.
Q: What is your greatest career achievement to date?
Abigail: Managing to stay afloat in the retail sector in times that are incredibly tough! Retail is such a tough field to go into, especially if youre an independent. Luckily I buy with my heart and people seem to really respect that. To have taken the business from nothing - having no clue about business - to what it is today is probably my greatest achievement.
Q: Whats your favourite home buy?
Abigail: My favourite item in my home happens to be the very first item that I bought for the house, which is a concrete chair from Mint. I've had it for 13 years and over time it has moved all over but its still one of the coolest pieces in the place.
Pictured: Abigail Ahern. Set of four LSA Celeste tea plates £32, set of four LSA Celeste tumblers £26; set of six John Lewis lacquer round placemats £25; John Lewis lacquer underplate £3; Georg Jensen Masterpieces Precious small bowl £115; Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen for Arthur Price Feast 7-piece place setting £62, all at John Lewis.
For more info on Abigail Ahern visit www.atelierabigailahern.com