Those of you as interested (obsessed) with interiors, styling and design as me will know of Abigail Ahern, the queen of the dark side. She’s well known for her love of dark, inky interiors and her design school Masterclass is held regularly at her home in London.
I wanted to go to the class for a few reasons, to see if the dark side is for me, and to have a nose around her house that is familiar to us all if you follow her Instagram feed and to get some different interiors inspiration. Turns out most of the attendees (all women!) were also there for the same reasons.
Following the directions from the train station, her home is easy to spot, the only house on the street with a front garden (with a fabulous fig tree!) and dark window frames and doors.
It felt so strange turning up to the house and going into the rooms that I’ve seen so many times on Instagram, it looked all so familiar but then again it wasn’t quite what I expected. The kitchen, living, dining area is in the basement and we’re directed straight down to the lower ground level to have an introductory coffee and chat with everyone. People had travelled from all parts of the country to come along and hear what Abigail had to say, it shows the power of her brand that people are willing to travel this far, and pay the (not small sum) for the day.
My first impression of the house was how cosy it feels. The different textures, rugs, throws, blankets and dogs gave it a warm, lived in feel. I had half expected a ‘shoes off’ regime at the door but it couldn’t have been further from the truth.
There’s so much to see in the main living area, from the enormous double height windows letting in a lot of light to the grey/black walls, to the plants, seating, rugs, and different art work and objects dotted around. It took a long time to take it in. Which is precisely what Abigail talked about in the session, that if you can read a room immediately it has no soul, that our eyes should be drawn to different things at different times of day, depending on the light, the time, the weather.
The session (and I won’t reveal too much in case you’d like to attend one in future) covers things such as how to break ‘design rules’ and how to paint your rooms in different colours but allowing the flow through the house – to lighting a room and mixing textures.
Abigail and her husband were extremely warm and accommodating by allowing a random bunch of strangers to their home. They were also open to allowing photos to be taken of the house (although I’m sure all the ones I took have been seen in some form of other on her Instagram feed!) and they delivered a delicious lunch and a cheeky glass of prosecco at the end of the day before taking the optional cab to her shop.
What I loved was the pure passion that Abigail shows of her design style. She knows it’s not for everyone but she spoke about it with love, I came away looking at dark paints in a different way.
My bungalow is currently (except one dark grey wall) a series of white rooms that we inherited from the former owners. I’m looking to inject some character and some real sense of interest into my home and many aspects of Abigail’s talk were certainly the starting point for me. My instagram feed is also full of fabulous dark homes, there seems to be a real trend in it right now and it seems everyone is turning to the dark side.
Is it for me? Well, to some degree. I think I will go for darker paint for the bright, south facing living room, (see the starting points of the makeover here and the paint I’m currently considering here) but I don’t think I can go so far as doing all the woodwork, door and ceilings in the same dark colour, and I don’t think that will go down well with Mr Wheel Chic Home either. However, I know that next time the woodwork won’t be Brilliant White next time round, but I’ll try some darker neutral instead.
The other thing that won’t work in my home is that we can’t have that number of shaggy rugs and style of furniture placement due to the husband’s wobbly legs. We will need to go with larger, flatter rugs and a clear space for wheelchairs or crutches to get through. But I will take some of the essence of the approach that Abigail has and apply it in my own way that suits us best.
Abigail’s home doesn’t have an empty corner, she fills it with small table or other vignettes filled with lamps or interesting objects or her own brand of faux plants. I’m not a minimalist by any means, but I don’t want to have loads of stuff around, I imagine it would be a nightmare to dust, but I did love that all the things in her home, so much to look at, so cohesive, so quirky and most (if not all of the things) you can see in her shop. I walked away from the shop with a lovely vase and some of the faux leaves (see here).
I learned from the class to have something quirky in each room, something unexpected and I’m going to definitely take that piece of advice when it comes to the living room makeover. I’m done with being boring, but not quite ready to fully embrace the dark side. I’ll meet it halfway!
The masterclass was a well organised and fun event, it was good to spend time with other design/interiors obsessives and I was thrilled to spend the time with such an important figure in the design scene.
I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about rule breaking and learning how to find your individual style.
How about you, are you a fan of the dark side?