Designer, stylist and author of ‘A Girl’s Guide to Decorating, ‘ Abigail Ahern is launching her second book ‘Decorating with Style’ (Quadrille, £16.99) with a Spring Master Class at Anthropologie (6.30-8.30pm, Wed 27th March).
The book promises to help you ‘add the wow factor with savvy styling, unexpected solutions and inexpensive finds.’ You can get a taste for her aesthetic at her Islington store, Atelier Abigail Ahern…and our interview here…
Who or what made you want to become a designer? I think it was the six years I spent working on the picture desk for Terence Conran’s publishing company Conran Octopus that really made me want to jump ship from a picture researcher to an interior designer. I spent years researching and sourcing images for all the design books so I got hooked pretty early on!
What’s your studio like? My studio is one of my favourite places in the house. Two lounge chairs flank the fireplace, I have a floor-to-ceiling bookcase, a fab desk which is really an ornate dining table that I sprayed teal, a zebra rug skimming the floor and oodles of lights and flowers.
How would you describe your style? Eclectic, kaleidoscopic and a little tongue in cheek. I am drawn to glamorous interiors and interiors that take risks and push boundaries. Nothing really matches in my spaces yet somehow it makes sense. I partner boho rustic finds with super glam pieces – and try to create as much visual tension as possible. Bad in every other walk of life but fundamental (the whole tension thing) in interiors!
What’s your bestselling product? Our faux flowers. They’ve gone to wineries in California, to A list celebs, to the British embassy in the Vatican – all over the world. Faux flowers get such a bad wrap until you see these. We only buy what we love, so big bunches of wild country blooms are our signature, plus my sister is one of the coolest florists around (she used to create the most amazing arrangement for Paul Smith and President Clinton), so she puts together seasonal bouquets. They fly out the store the second they go in.
Tell us about your new book. ‘Decorating with Style’ is full to the brim of cool ideas to transform the home. I bend rules, push colour palettes, play around with scale and take interiors to a another level. You don’t need oodles of cash I seriously believe style has got nothing to do with money. So the book is packed with insider sources, speedy updates and clever tips. In this book I really wanted to demystify design, interiors can be a snooty old business but I believe that you can create an A-list style home without employing a designer or mortgaging the house!
Why have you chosen Anthropologie to launch your book? I am obsessed with Anthropologie because their product range is vast, beautifully curated and fits any interior boho or classic, retro or Hollywood glam. Their rugs are my go-to source continually for myself and my clients, I adore the Plaint rug (below). The supersized Found Decanter lamp is on my to-buy list, that’s not forgetting the tableware, I like the Ashanti decanter or their amazing hardware.
Share some quick and easy tips? Firstly, paint woodwork, trim and if you can ceilings, the same colour as your walls – it will transform your life. Promise!
Secondly, triple your lighting even if you think you have enough you haven’t and after colour its the second most transformative thing you can do to any space.
Thirdly, don’t stop decorating to soon – it’s the finishing touches, details like candles, books, and flowers, art that takes a space to a whole other level.
What’s your big style no-no? Furniture against the perimeter of the room . No matter how small the room, move sofas and chairs away from the walls. I have the hardest time trying to convince people to do it, until they come here and see it.
What’s your home like? Full of things I love, some of it’s vintage, a lot of it is from the store. It references so many different periods but it kind of makes sense and is held together by a limited colour palette. We have a double-height wall of glass at the back so the garden is on view big time, but I’ve integrated that into the scheme by creating an outdoor room. Everything is painted in dark sludgy hues (think bottom-of-the-lake type colours), rugs abound, flowers are everywhere and there are so many focal points that you don’t quite know where to look. I love it.
What’s your most treasured possesion? Mungo and Maud. No matter how tough the day, the minute I see them my spirits raise.
What are you lusting after right now? The tin tile wallpaper that we’ve just papered the store in, I need it ASAP for my bathroom, celling on the ground floor and my dressing room.
Which other designs do you admire? Jonathan Adler and Kelly Wearstler. They follow their own path and don’t pander to trends. Their aesthetic makes me think differently and they are both brilliant about adding touches that are a little tongue in cheek. I say it a zillion times a day – you won’t have a tantalising interior unless you take risks, and these two do it all the time.
Which designer/maker have you been excited to discover? Dominic Gubb, he makes the most amazing sculptures of dogs, they are not in store yet but you can buy the sculptures in store or get one commissioned of your own dogs. They’re amazing.
As well as designing I’m pretty good at… gardening (I secretly think I’m Martha Stewart, pottering around the garden with a basket, cutting and pruning)
Whose house would you love to decorate? Rachel Zoe’s house and push her interiors the way she pushes clothes.
In another life I’d be…a detective!