Saturday 1 October 2016

The Knowledge: How to make your home unique

Abigail Ahern

Published 11/05/2015 | 02:30

Interior designer Abigail Ahern
Interior designer Abigail Ahern

Expert advice on how to make your house look beautiful and harmonious.

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Ignore trends

Buy pieces that give you an emotional connection, that make you feel happy or tranquil, have a narrative or increase your heart rate. The more you follow your heart, the more individual your house will be. Being unique is also not about having the one-off statement piece from a French antique market. Smaller accessories, such as vases, candles, flowers and throws, can make your space feel personal - they are the five-minute facelift of the decorating world.

Observe the rule of three

Putting the eclectic pieces that you love together in a space without it looking crazy can feel quite daunting. The simplest trick is to rein in your colour palette. For each space stick to only a few different colours - in my rooms I have no more than three - and then vary the tones from light to dark.

Give some interest

Your aim should be to create intrigue, friction and tension in a room. Do this by juxtaposing objects. Play around with scale: if everything is perfectly proportioned, your room can read as quite formal. Try putting a really large vessel on a small table, a big lamp on a pile of small books, or supersizing your art. It will give your room an exclamation mark, and when held together with a restrained colour palette, the space will look beautiful and harmonious.

Build up textures

Another way to create friction is to mix textures, as it adds another layer of intrigue. When every surface is the same, or when everything matches, it can make a space feel one-dimensional. Don't buy a velvet cushion for a velvet sofa. Buy a fluffy wool cushion or a metallic leather one. You can never overdose on texture.

Choose colours that you love

Take inspiration for your wall colour from your wardrobe. If you wear a lot of grey and black there is no reason why you shouldn't apply those colours to your walls. Colour is the most important thing in a room, and it's the easiest thing to change.

Create mood

When I decorate I do not try to achieve a certain style, for example a French kitchen. Instead I try to nail a mood. Ask yourself: "How do I want to feel in this room?" and come up with a list, including, for example, tranquil, invigorated or chilled, then decorate to conjure that feeling. In my bedroom I wanted to feel relaxed so I decorated with textures aplenty, including big fluffy rugs, that immediately make me feel chilled out when I walk in. Decorate a small room in a dark colour with squidgy and luxurious textiles to make it feel cosy. And don't forget to give your bathrooms and hallways the same attention.

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