Interior designer, author, boutique owner and all-round decor guru Abigail Ahern is renowned for her style, which is synonymous with glamour, wit, eclecticism and a bold use of colour (she’s the woman responsible for the near-universal obsession with Farrow & Ball’s ‘Downpipe’). Describe your interiors aesthetic in three words.
Maximalist, laid-back glam. (That hyphen means it’s only one word!)
What’s your favourite room in your own home?
The big open-plan kitchen/dining/living space on the lower ground floor – it’s where we nearly all spend the most time: relaxing, watching movies, entertaining… It’s also where I experiment with decorating the most. It’s my style laboratory where I get to try out all our new samples every season!
What’s your most treasured possession?
A painting we picked up in a gallery in L.A., which is actually the cover on my book Decorating with Style. My husband and I used to live by in the Great Lakes in Michigan – the land of huge skies and a lot of water. This oil painting depicts those vast American skies I so love. Every time I see it I think of my time there: working for someone else, having the most amazing holidays and weekends jetting all over the States exploring, furnishing my first real home with my husband. It seems such a simple life compared to what mine is now, so it means a lot on many levels. On crazy-busy weeks I want to turn back time and go back to that simple life.
And what home addition do you have your eye on next?
More of a garden than a home addition, but if I could splurge on anything, it would definitely be a Hermit Cabin to get away from it all, They’re constructed from the most beautiful reclaimed barn timbers and come fully furnished. They’re absolutely titchy with only room enough for one (maybe that’s the appeal?!) and for the size they do cost a tonne. It’s my ultimate dream.
Biggest interiors faux pas?
Only using overhead lighting (rooms need oodles of table lamps to create a beautiful lighting scheme), and leaving the ceiling white – it instantly ‘stumpifies’ the whole room and ruins the atmosphere, in my opinion.
If you could decorate anyone’s home, whose would it be?
The White House. It wouldn’t be white by the time I’d finished with it!
How can we transform our homes for the summer?
When it comes to switching up your home with the seasons, a quick way to inject some freshness into a room is a change of accessories, textiles and greenery. Heavy tweed-y or velvet cushions are swapped for soft blush or caramel Mongolian wool cushions; winter-y berries and foliage get swapped for meadow flowers and exuberant oversized tropical greenery.
You’re renowned for your use of darker hues – do they really work in the summer months?!
Dark colours are amazing in the summer, especially against dramatic greenery and plants – it’s a match made in heaven! You should also mix in metallics and even white accessories as your pop of colour. It’s such a cool reversal of traditional monochromatic schemes.
Your faux flowers are the best in the business – what are your top tips?
When creating an arrangement start with your focal flowers, like a fat-headed Peony or Hydrangea. Like many styling secrets, odd numbers work best, so 3 or 5 of these are perfect. Dot around a few smaller blooms such as Ranunculus, and don’t forget to add textural foliage pieces to bring it all together – I love our Alliums or Astilbe for a beautiful natural vibe. And don’t worry about keeping it neat, it’s all about that loose “just plucked from the hedgerow” freshness!
It takes a while to get the knack of flower arranging, but there’s tonnes you can do without being expert. I’m incredibly lucky in that I have a professional florist for a sister. She’s our florist extraordinaire and runs all our flower workshops and creates the faux bouquets each season! I’m not nearly as talented with fauxs as she is, so I tend to go for some of our really dramatic pieces such as the Spiraea or evergreen foliage that will look amazing on their own: just plonk a big bunch in a vase and voila! Job done.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
To go with your gut.
What would you tell your 18 year old self?
To have more confidence.
You get to choose six women – dead or alive – to spend the evening with. Who? And where do you go?
Maya Angelou, Jenna Lyons, April Broomfield, Kelly Wearstler, my sister Gem and Ella Fitzgerald. And I think with that crowd we’d have to go to an incredibly cool restaurant like the Spotted Pig in NYC!
What are you reading/watching/listening to at the moment?
Reading A Little Life; watching Madame Secretary; and listening to Monocle’s Entrepreneurs podcast.
Over or under dressed?
Favourite holiday destination?
Lazing on the beach or city break?
Summer or Autumn?
Over or under packer?
Binge-watching Real Housewives of New York.
What’s the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
That I had a minimalist “Scandi” phase. (I know! I try not to talk about it).
Abigail is an Interior Designer, author and boutique owner, checkout her website here and follow her on instagram @abigailahern for decor ideas!