Bestselling author and acclaimed interior designer Abigail Ahern is looking to bring a little colour into our own homes
First things first Abigail, what inspired you to write the book Colour, out on 23 April?
I’ve wanted to do something on colour forever, as I’m completely evangelical about it. It’s the cheapest, quickest and most transformative thing you can do to any space, period! I’ve launched my own paint range and I’m totally committed to getting people to embrace colour in their homes.
What’s the biggest mistake people make when it comes to colour in their home?
I think people tend to play it too safe. With so many options out there, why do people revert to beige or cream so often? Or when people do take risks, they just dip their toe in, rather than going for it. It’s why the feature wall gets such a bad rap in my industry – it’s often done as a token gesture to add some colour, without tying in with existing palette and colour scheme. I really want to inspire people to be bolder with colour in their own homes.
What are people scared of when it comes to colour?
They are definitely scared of going dark. People are often worried that it will be dingy or claustrophobic, but I find it invigorating and liberating. But if anyone lacks confidence, the really great thing about colour and paint is that it’s the easiest thing to put right if it doesn’t work. Just paint over it again!
Your motto is about taking risks. What would you say has been the biggest gamble you’ve taken – and did it pay off?
Painting my house top to toe dark was a pretty huge risk, but it’s paid off big-time, as I completely love the look. It’s also made people more aware of the brand, as pictures of my pad have gone around the world zillions of times. It’s been incredible actually and has opened up doors I wouldn’t have ever believed. I really gravitate towards these dark inky, sludgy, bottom-of-the-lake colours and they’ve become my signature colour palette.
How would someone figure out their colour palette?
I cover this in a lot of detail in the book, because choosing colour is so personal and instinctive so it can be hard to know where to start. When planning interiors, I’d say first up have a look at your wardrobe, as odd as that sounds! Look at what you buy intuitively and start building schemes from the colours you already love. Chuck in a few riskier colours that scare you a bit, as the more risks you take the cooler your pad will look. Simple as that.
Is there an ‘in’ colour of the moment?
Grey has been my favourite colour since I first switched to the dark side, and it’s definitely having a big moment in interiors right now. I’ve loved it for years, and I know I’ll continue to love it long after it’s gone out of style too! I think you should forget what’s in or out and only choose hues that you love. My all-time favourites are obviously those from my own range: Madison Grey, Mulberry and Hudson Black.
Do people often come into your Upper Street atelier to ask about colour advice?
They do indeed; we have the store painted out in a lot of colours from the paint range, so they can immediately see how they work in a space. It’s also a big topic I cover in my design classes, and people come to the classes to see first-hand how I’ve used colour in my place.
How are things going at the atelier?
It’s a really great time in the store at the moment. We’ve recently launched our own label collection, and all the new collection is coming in. It’s also going out to other retailers all around the globe who have bought into the AA look, so needless to say I’m really excited about it!
What do you have planned for the shop in spring/summer 2015?
Tons of things! Besides the launch of the book in April, our SS15 label is arriving this month, from huge faux cactus and summer jungle botanicals to luxurious leather club armchairs and amazing sculptures.
You are currently doing a lot of writing in America – how does their approach to interior design differ from ours?
I love the American take on interiors. I started my career in the States, and although US design is perhaps not as eclectic as European style, it’s always been the hugest source of inspiration for me. The whole vibe of my SS15 own label collection was based around cowboy style, which I am pretty obsessed with!
I’m in the process of tweaking my AW15 own label collection, and I’ve already had to start thinking about SS16 too. I’ve also got some cool collaborations to work on, including my Debenhams line. There are also quite a few other things in the pipeline, which I am not allowed to mention quite yet, but I’m really excited about. And I’d also like to take Design School global this year with classes planned in the States and Australia, so there’s lots going on!
Words Mark Kebble
Abigail Ahern Colour is published on 23 April 2015; abigailahern.com