We visit the Lon­don home of Abi­gail Ah­ern to dis­cover how the queen of ‘mod­ern black’ up­dated her sig­na­ture look in tune with its emer­gence as one of this year’s big­gest home trends

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - The Trends - Words KARINE MONIE Pho­tog­ra­phy BIRGITTA WOLF­GANG/SIS­TERS AGENCY


It was the prospect of an ELLE Decoration pho­to­shoot back in 2007 that prompted in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tor Abi­gail Ah­ern to paint the stark white in­te­rior of her Dal­ston home dark grey. That was the day her tastes turned to the dark side. She went one step fur­ther in 2014, and painted most of the walls black. A me­dia flurry en­sued. Black was pro­claimed the new white, and Ah­ern’s style be­came synony­mous with inky hues and artful ar­range­ments of fur­nish­ings. It is note­wor­thy then, that this year’s take on ‘mod­ern black’ – think dark walls en­livened by flashes of colour, luxe ma­te­ri­als and sculp­tural plants – is epit­o­mised by the scheme that Ah­ern con­jured up back then. She did it first – and with aplomb. So it seems only fit­ting that we visit the four­floor Vic­to­rian home that she shares with her part­ner Gra­ham Scott and their two dogs, Mungo (a minia­ture Sch­nauzer) and Maud (a Welsh ter­rier), to dis­cover how her aes­thetic has evolved. ‘The space has changed as I have ma­tured,’ she says. ‘It is now the inki­est, sludgi­est and most so­phis­ti­cated it has ever been.’


‘It’s hard to de­fine, but I guess it’s a mix of glam­our with boho – a jux­ta­po­si­tion of the raw and the re­fined. I’ve tried to blend di­verse pieces of fur­ni­ture seam­lessly (all were ei­ther de­signed by me, “pinched” from my in­te­ri­ors store, Ate­lier Abi­gail Ah­ern, or un­earthed at vin­tage mar­kets around the world) and cre­ate a so­phis­ti­cated pad that’s also edgy and rock-chic,’ says Ah­ern.

‘It’s an aes­thetic that ap­pears dif­fi­cult to achieve, as you need to find the right bal­ance, but it’s ac­tu­ally much eas­ier than it looks – the minute you paint some­thing dark, it be­comes so­phis­ti­cated. I add ex­tra drama by play­ing around with scale. There are sev­eral larger pieces in my home – such as over­sized plants and mir­rors – that cre­ate depth and ap­pear mag­i­cal, day and night. The gi­ant chan­de­liers add an in­stant touch of gran­deur. I then overdose on tex­ture so that ev­ery­thing feels very snug. If the pal­ette is more res­trained – al­beit dra­matic – you can mix in what­ever you want. Tex­ture gives a house soul.’


The decor of Ah­ern’s home re­flects her love of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and her strong vis­ual style. The liv­ing room and din­ing area are painted ‘Madi­son Grey’, her favourite colour. It has a green un­der­tone that changes with the light and cre­ates a soft, inky back­drop. ‘All the paints in the house are from my own col­lec­tion,’ she says. The look is im­mer­sive, as the hue is swept over the walls, ceil­ing and floors, but each room has a slightly dif­fer­ent tone and feel. For in­stance, Ah­ern’s sec­ond-floor stu­dio – more of a grand liv­ing space than a workspace – is painted ‘Hud­son Black’, which is calmed by un­der­tones of brown. ‘The minute that I painted my home black, the magic hap­pened,’ she says. ‘Ev­ery­thing just looked cooler. We took out the en­tire back wall of the house over two floors and re­placed it with win­dows, so there’s plenty of light as well as an in­door-out­door feel. But the de­sign has evolved: I ini­tially cre­ated big pops of colour, but even­tu­ally found that too jar­ring, so now there are just a few.’ The pal­ette changes in the kitchen and up­stairs bed­room: both are painted ‘Crosby’, a sludgy brown with pink un­der­tones. ‘Mul­berry Red’ (a shade with black un­der­tones) dec­o­rates the hall­ways and the stair­case.


Ah­ern has a ‘more is more’ ap­proach to de­sign that’s very cur­rent. Bold art­works, over­sized chairs and huge plants fill her home. Many of the pieces, such as the su­per­sized mir­rors, are gen­er­ously curved and soften the dark lines of the space. She is fa­mous for her re­al­is­tic faux flow­ers, which bloom in ev­ery room as sculp­tures of birds and an­i­mals peek through their leaves. Rugs are also very much Ah­ern’s thing: they over­lap on the floor and lend an­other cosy layer of tex­ture to the scheme. ‘There is a fire­place in ev­ery room – even out­side,’ says the de­signer, whose liv­ing room ad­joins a jun­gle-like gar­den that fea­tures an out­door kitchen com­plete with a sofa and fire­place. How would she de­scribe her look? ‘It mar­ries glam with a dol­lop of grit, and tells a story with a dose of drama.’ abi­gaila­h­

Por­trait Abi­gail Ah­ern with her Welsh ter­rier Maud Din­ing area This space is painted Ah­ern’s own ‘Hud­son Black’ – with the colour used on the walls, floor and ceil­ing. The mar­ble din­ing ta­ble and chairs are all from the Ard­ingly An­tiques and...

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