Abigail Ahern: lamps, side lights and how to use artificial flowers

We ask Abigail Ahern for her professional advice on all things interiors; from atmospheric lighting to faux flowers and colour theory

Interior designer, author and retailer, Abigail Ahern has been heralded as ‘one of the world’s most exciting decorators’.

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Not only does she run Atelier Abigail Ahern, a quirky interiors emporium in North London, but she has a loyal and adventurous clientele, including the likes of Robbie Williams and Alexander McQueen.

Abigail started out as a picture editor at Terence Conran’s publishing company, but reinvented herself as an interior designer when she moved to the US in 1995. She has taken her Design School across the world with a series of masterclasses in major cities, and has developed her own collections of décor pieces as well as faux flowers and her own paint range.

Abigail lives in a converted four storey Victorian house in London with her husband Graham and their two dogs, Maud and Mungo. We caught up with her to talk all things interiors…

You are well known for your faux flowers, so can you tell us about the faux plant and botanical range?

The reason we launched our botanicals range is because faux flowers always had a granny-esque vibe, and I wanted to change the spin on them. I wanted to reinvent how faux botanicals are perceived and create lush, foliage and pops of colour for flowers.

In my interiors I love blurring the lines of inside and out and I think great quality botanicals are the best way to do it – they instantly add layers and liven up a space.

You have branched out into selling art too. Why is art so important in the home?

Wall art changes up the vibe of a room and I don’t think any space feels complete without it. For me, there are no secrets to buying art, just buy what you love and you’ll never get bored of it.

Why is colour so important for you?

I really want to give people the confidence to push the boundaries and go for braver, bolder interiors. For me, colour is a huge part of that because it’s the single quickest and cheapest way to transform any space. When you find the hues you love, it creates magic, and makes everything look cooler. People need to experiment with colour until they have a home they love.

Abigail Ahern’s bedroom interior design with her faux botanicals © Graham Atkins-Hughes Photos by Graham Atkins-Hughes
Abigail Ahern’s bedroom interior design with her faux botanicals © Graham Atkins-Hughes Photos by Graham Atkins-Hughes

What lighting works well with your darker palette?

I can’t bear just overhead lighting. You need to have oodles of lamps and side lights too. People always think I’m crazy to say this, but you really need at least eight light sources in any room – dimmer switches are an absolute must too. It’s all about creating that magical atmosphere of little glowing pools of light dotted around the room.

Do you give as much attention to bathrooms and hallways?

Absolutely. My motto is to decorate every room as you would your living room, so lavish just as much love and attention on them. My hallways have art, consoles, rugs, beautiful mirrors and tons of faux plants. The bathroom is a bit of an indoor jungle with lots of foliage, and a huge chandelier and fireplace to create the focal points.

Do you advocate darker shades for the kitchen too?

I do indeed. In my home my kitchen is part of an open-plan living space so has to blend in. I’ve painted it out in Crosby, which is the same gorgeously soft rosy brown as my bedroom. I’ve also layered it up with rugs, art, accessories, lamps, a big console, cool vintage open storage, faux plants and even a sculpture. I always like to change things up with seasonal flowers, but if a room feels complete and beautiful then there is no need for change.

How do you make a home unique?

Go with your gut, don’t be afraid to experiment, choose pieces you love, fill it with personality and don’t stop decorating too soon.

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Words by Susan Springate