I am being inundated with requests to “kiss and tell” about Abigail’s Masterclass I attended in London in May. So, today is my summary of the essential components that make the perfect room (according to Miss Ahern). There is enough information for about 10 separate posts, but decided to put it all into one, least you start getting fed-up with me banging on about Abigail.
Abigail’s main message centred around creating a “Push and Pull Dynamic”: imbuing a space with visual interest and a sense of the uncanny. Ideally, there should be a tension between fun and rigour, refinement and rebellion, high-end and low, and modern and traditional. Great in theory, but she took us through how to do this. The photos I am using to illustrate these points are not necessary ones that reflect Abigail style but do make the point!
Relaxed furniture arrangement
Abigail loves sofas, beds and tables to be positioned away from the wall and at different angles as it creates a more informal feel. Circular as opposed to square or rectangular furniture also add to ease of flow.
Jenna Lyons Brooklyn brownstone via Ken Levenson Architect
Andrew Corrie and Harriet Maxwell MacDonald Soho Loft via Living etc
Layer, layer, layer
Give a sense of the 3D by putting things in front of each other. Arrange bookshelves with books stacked both vertically and horizontally and include paintings, objects and memorabilia one in front of the other, but not too perfectly arranged. Rugs look great layered on top of each other.
Thomas O’Brien Apartment via Design Sponge
Paris apartment of photographer, Marie-Pierre More via Marie Claire Maison
Play with proportion
Huge mirrors, lamps and lights create a magical Alice in Wonderland effect. This can be achieved also be contrasting scale i.e. placing a mirror that is too large for the accompanying mantelpiece or a massive vase next to a tiny one.
Home office of Michael Minns and Jonathan King via 47 Park Avenue
The effect of this on the senses is ease. So go for off-kilter symmetry e.g., hang your chandelier way too low and off centre; scatter a variety of mismatched cushions in an haphazard manner, arrange different styles of chairs around an old table, include lamps of varying heights, fill bookshelves with art works and vases. Walls painted as blackboards that are scrawled all over with messages are really cheap and effective.
David Alhadeff’s Brooklyn loft via Design Sponge
Hanne Graumann’s Copenhagen apartment via Duel Home
Each room in Abigail’s house has between 7-9 lamps with low watt bulbs; this creates a cosy ambience and if your walls are painted dark, then frankly, they will require a bit of extra lighting assistance. But be careful not to overlight the room from above.
Abigail’s dining area via her own blog
This can be done in a variety of ways by mixing up contemporary and traditional furniture, varying texture so soft fabrics contrast with hard bricks or wood, shinning surfaces appear next to rough ones. Use a variety of patterns, but if you do then restrict the colour palate.
via A White Carousel
Be Brave and Unexpected
Allow about 10% of your decor to be fun and tongue in cheek. Embrace humour and quirky items. Have fun with bold colour.
Mark and DJ Duckworth’s Upper West Side Apartment, New York via Lonny Magazine
Madrid apartment of Jaime Lacase vía Elle Decor España
The Upper East Side Apartment of Emma and Herve featured in Milk Magazine.
Painted Out Room, preferably dark
Paint the walls, floors, window frames, doors, skirting, ceiling . . . actually everything in the same colour. It creates a sense of space and cosiness. White is great, but dark moody sludgy colours are even better according to Miss A.
Paris apartment of Florence Baudoux via Richard Powers
And, finally flowers
No room would have Abigail’s mark without masses of flowers.
The Design School in Abigail’s Home via her blog
That’s just my take on it. For those of you who can easily get to Melbourne, Sydney, New York or London, I highly recommend enrolling in Abigail’s Masterclass and be inspired. You can do so here. I’d be fascinated to hear what you take from the class.
If you are based in Australia, stay tuned as I have some very exciting Abigail Ahern news to announce in a few weeks.