Take your interiors to the max in 2021 with these expert tips

Abigail Ahern has won a legion of decor fans with her moody maximalist style. GABRIELLE FAGAN finds out how to conjure the look
Take your interiors to the max in 2021 with these expert tips

 'Take it to the max' - Abigail Ahern's lounge has a combination of textures, from sheepskin to wool, individual furniture pieces and a profusion of foliage linking the room to the glorious garden outside. Picture credit: Graham Atkins-Hughes/PA.

SLEEK, pared-back style may have dominated in interiors in recent times, but there’s no rule that says you have to follow that pack.

Designer Abigail Ahern happily admits she’s obsessed with “maximalist interiors”, and her ‘more is more’ approach oozes comfort and appeal. Think rooms which please the eye and delight the senses with their richness and interest.

Ahern’s trendsetting designs have become synonymous with glamour, eclecticism and wit over the years — and she now reveals her unique, bold style in a new book called Everything: A Maximalist Style Guide.

Her look is a world away from the minimalism and quietness that’s ruled in decor trends for so long.

Everything: A Maximalist Style Guide by Abigail Ahern is published by Pavilion.
Everything: A Maximalist Style Guide by Abigail Ahern is published by Pavilion.

“Maximalism is the most explorative of style, nothing is off limits,” Ahern enthuses.

“It’s about experimentation with materials, colour, form, vintage finds and modern pieces.”

She describes it as “a highly stylised type of decor and it holds comfort at its very centre. It’s a full-on sensory experience that lifts your spirits and provides inspiration in a way that minimalism just can’t.”

A Rectangular Swan Serving Tray, Mint & May.
A Rectangular Swan Serving Tray, Mint & May.

Her mission now is to restore the reputation of a style which hasn’t, she believes, enjoyed the popularity it deserves. Maximalism has had “a bad rap in the past, because spaces can look like they’ve been decorated by someone who’s had seven cups of coffee while nursing a hangover”, she notes with a smile.

An Eichholtz Gold Vittoria Chandelier – Small  from Sweetpea & Willow. 
An Eichholtz Gold Vittoria Chandelier – Small  from Sweetpea & Willow. 

But the interiors guru reassures: “My kind of interior is decorating with intention, rather than just frivolously plonking stuff everywhere.

“I am a believer that by adding considered colours, textures, patterns and accents, you’ll create spaces that solicit conversation and evoke immense personal pleasure.

“I’m championing a new kind of maximalism,” Ahern declares. “One that - when you get it right - feels considered, curated and magical.”

Take it to the max Ahern’s lounge has a combination of textures, from sheepskin to wool, individual furniture pieces and a profusion of foliage linking the room to the glorious garden outside.

She really is a fan of creating an impact in schemes.

 “I get the biggest adrenalin rush when people enter my space and their jaws hit the floor,” says Abigail.

“They sigh and gasp and smile - they don’t know where to look. Their eyes are drawn in so many different directions, so they feel excited, engaged and tantalised all at once.”

'Heavenly hearth' - A fireplace dressed to impress, with a mirror reflecting one of her statement chandeliers, makes a stunning focal point in one of the intimate spaces in Abigail Ahern's home. Picture: Graham Atkins-Hughes/PA.
'Heavenly hearth' - A fireplace dressed to impress, with a mirror reflecting one of her statement chandeliers, makes a stunning focal point in one of the intimate spaces in Abigail Ahern's home. Picture: Graham Atkins-Hughes/PA.

Heavenly hearth

“Decorating with nature and bringing the beauty of the changing seasons into our home is easy and inexpensive, and the materials are on our doorsteps,” says Ahern.

“I have fireplaces in each and every room, so I’ve always got baskets filled with wood, which lend a warm and cosy vibe.”

In one room, a dramatic black hearth is dressed to impress, with a mirror above reflecting one of her statement chandeliers. It makes a stunning focal point and giving the space a sense of intimacy.

A Fabulous Faux Gold Palm Tree,  Audenza. 
A Fabulous Faux Gold Palm Tree,  Audenza. 

Bathroom bliss

Her signature style extends throughout her home - including in the bathrooms. Ahern’s blissful bathroom retreat proves this room can be so much more than a functional area, with its stunning use of light and displays of vases and foliage.

“It’s easy to play it safe when it comes to decorating, but the trouble with playing it safe is that it doesn’t allow you to inject personality into your home,” shares Ahern.

“When you add a bold print or colour, it quickly and easily transforms the space. I always rely on my gut feeling when it comes to decision-making risks.”

 'Fabulous features' - A collection of quirky objects and books turn a dull corner into a feature in Abigail Ahern's home. Picture: Graham Atkins-Hughes/PA
 'Fabulous features' - A collection of quirky objects and books turn a dull corner into a feature in Abigail Ahern's home. Picture: Graham Atkins-Hughes/PA

Fabulous features

For Ahern, creativity can be injected anywhere, as she demonstrates with a collection of quirky objects and books on some shelves, turning what could easily have been a dull corner into a design feature. Transforming the atmosphere of a space, she says, can be as simple as “juxtaposing materials, painting a wall in a tantalising hue, changing the layout, adding pattern and texture, or overdosing on lighting”.

So, see what takes your fancy.

Everything: A Maximalist Style Guide by Abigail Ahern is published by Pavilion


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