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