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Lessons Learnt from Abigail Ahern: Flowers, flowers, flowers

This is the first of a new series about design lessons I have learnt and I am going to start it with a few insights from Abigail Ahern’s Masterclass last month.

Fill your house with an abundance of flowers: they had texture and create immediate layering.

Here are some photos of Abigail’s shop in London.

What’s really interesting is that they are all fakes! Yes, that’s right. Decking out your house with this amount of real flowers every day of the year is really only possible by those living in the country with access to bounties of free blooms, or those with a line of credit at the local florist. Alternatively, invest in some high quality fakes. These days they are so well done it’s hard to tell them from real ones especially if you have a few scented candles burning at the same time.

Last week my house was photographed for a magazine and, with Abigial’s inspiration in mind, I combined both real and fake flowers and scattered them throughout the house and below are the results.


A few tips to remember:¬†don’t put fake flowers near natural light as your secret will be revealed; and¬†forget posies and flower arrangements, the latest in floral design is putting clusters of vases or bottles together each with one flower or stem.

The photo below is from the Masterclass, run in the attic of Abigail’s house. It’s painted in Farrow & Ball’s Railings which is the most divine colour. Flowers (and pretty much anything) looks incredible against it. I am pretty excited that I managed to get a sample of this colour and it’s being sent to me in Australia. If I love it as much as I think I will, my plan is to have it colour matched and to start painting!

Photo by me (Kate Challis)


7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Chris #

    Hi Kate,

    Gorgeous! Your house looks divine with all the flowers!
    I have been eyeing Abigails flowers for quite some time now, they look fabulous on pictures and I heard they are even made of natural silk fabric? So much for many of the ‘silk flowers’ out there, that are made of plastics… My birthday surprise was a trip to London to visit her store to buy flowers, and we are planning a weekend to the UK right now. I cannot wait!

    Have you decided on a name for your blog yet?

    Have a great day!


    June 26, 2012
  2. kate #

    The flowers are expensive but really worth it. They are silk and intentionally imperfect which makes them seem real. You’ll love Abi’s shop and she is planning a new one right now too in Dalston, but sure when that’s due to open, but pretty soon, I think.

    Regarding the name, thanks for the input. I am thinking of sticking with urban kaleidoscope for the moment, even though most people don’t know how to spell it . . . but google does a pretty good job of helping.

    Love to hear about your UK trip and if you have a chance to Abigail’s Masterclass do it! Inspiring!

    June 26, 2012
  3. Her cafe is opening in the Autumn.

    I too went on one of Abi’s masterclasses and I loved it, she’s such an inspiration. I’m in the process of buying a flat and I’m so glad I went before I decorated as the Farrow & Ball will be coming out now.

    I haven’t bought any of her silk flowers but I really loved Gem’s class. I’ve paid much more attention since then rather than just shoving flowers in a vase. I made my first hand held bouquet which turned out surprisingly well. She just gave a list of brilliantly simple, useful tips didn’t she?

    I’ve just found your blog and I love it!

    July 4, 2012
    • kate #

      Thanks. I am so thrilled you like the blog. And yes, isn’t Abigail’s house incredible and I love her approach which is so accessible and not elitist. Good luck with buying a flat. I look forward to seeing what you do with it. I find the big challenge is not just to copy Abigail’s style, but to integrate it and make it my own. I don’t just want to be an Abi Clone.

      July 6, 2012
  4. Steph #

    Love your blog which I just discovered tonight. That lightshade made of wire is so simple and lovely. Can you tell me where you got it? Thank you :-)

    March 11, 2014
    • kate #

      Hi Steph, That amazing lampshade is by Melbourne based Lighting designer Volker Haug. It’s crocheted from one piece of wire. You can check his work out here.

      March 11, 2014
  5. Steph #

    Oh Kate, thank you so much! This is fabulous.

    March 15, 2014

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