Abigail Ahern’s Design Masterclass

I’ve been a fan of Abigail Ahern’s style since discovering her first book, A Girl’s Guide to Decorating, it was so inspiring that I’ve now bought all of her books. When I received an email from May Design Series, saying that I had won a place at Abigail Ahern’s Design Masterclass (held in her home), I was completely overwhelmed with excitement, screaming with joy!

Having been an interior designer myself I often looked to others for inspiration but with little satisfaction. There are too many stiff designers out there for my liking with regimented styles and rules, they left me feeling really bored. However when I saw how Abigail ripped up the rule book and did whatever she wanted, I was in awe. Joining the design masterclass was my opportunity to learn more about this anarchistic approach to design.

Abigail’s dark, eclectic and slightly mad style is the polar opposite of the white scandinavian interiors I often write about but to be honest, I love both styles. I’m drawn to this darker style as it has tons of personality, style, confidence whilst also being very contemporary and edgy too.

Abigail Ahern's Design Masterclass | Hannah in the house

I met some lovely creative women on the day, we completely made a mess of Abigail’s front room/meeting room. Being surrounded by the examples of which we were taught made this the perfect setting for the class. Abigail’s teaching was fun, having such a great depth of knowledge and being so open to sharing it, is very commendable.

Abigail Ahern design masterclass | Hannah in the house

Exploring the house was jaw dropping, my eyes couldn’t stop wondering. It’s a beautiful space filled with art work, objects, beautiful lighting, furniture and colour, lots of colour.

One of Abigail’s key points when designing a room, ‘ if you read a room in a minute then it’s dull and boring. If you keep the eye travelling around the room then you’ve created an intriguing space’. I was there nearly all day and I still hadn’t read the rooms, there was so much to see.

Spending the day there learning SO much about Abigail’s design style was such an incredible opportunity. My note book is full and my camera rammed with pictures. I even got to meet to two M’s, Mungo and Maud, seriously cool and cute dogs!

I’ve broken down a few nuggets of advice that I learnt on the day. If you follow these five points you can create a cool pad in no time.


Using colour well is the most effective way of transforming a room, having a dark neutral colour on the wall is a great backdrop (looks fab in this house!). Whatever colour you paint the walls the ceiling HAS to be the same colour (Abigail’s non negotiable), this includes the coving, doors and frames too. Then introduce roughly 3 or 4 colours to the room all within the same tonality. This can be with upholstery, cushions, accessories etc. A simple rule but it works!

Abigail Ahern's Design Masterclass | Hannah in the house


Decorating with super sized lamps, art and mirrors will give a dramatic statement and looks so stylish. Make sure that your products vary in height so that it creates interest and makes the eye work around the room. If everything is the same height it will look bland.

I was quite surprised when I saw just how much Abigail played with scale, her artwork is HUGE, with lamps and cacti taller than me. Mixing in with items of various sizes is such a creative way to add drama to a room. It made me realise that I’d been playing with scale way too safely.

Abigail Ahern's Design Masterclass | Hannah in the house


Mixing up textures. Having the same texture throughout a room will make it feel flat and bland. If you’re sticking to one colour you can but just make sure you go crazy with texture. On the other hand if you want to play with colour, try keeping with the same tonality, making a very stylish look.

Abigail Ahern's Design Masterclass | Hannah in the house


A great way of adding personality is by adding something quirky or unexpected. This can be in the form of artwork, sculpture, crazy cushions or random objects. Don’t go too crazy with this though as it will look tacky, try for 20% quirk, it’ll look stylish and have bags of personality.

Abigail Ahern Bathroom | Hannah in the house


Your garden is an extra room, give it some love. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden then please use it! and love it. Creating an outdoor kitchen is quite trendy right now but it’s not all about the BBQ.

Decorate this space with the same mindset as you would an interior. Add colour, texture, quirk, accessories and lighting.

Kitchen Garden Abigail Ahern | Hannah in the houseOutdoor Living Abigail Ahern | Hannah in the house

I’m sure I ended up taking a thousand pictures of the house, it truly is stunning. If you’d like to sign up to Abigail’s design masterclass I’d say go for it, she’s taking it around the country too! I’ve learnt so much more than I’ve listed but I suggest you find out more on Abigail’s site or even follow her blog, it’s full of great tips!

Thank you May Design Series for this opportunity and a big thanks to Abigail for such a great day. I’m truly inspired.

H x


  • Reply James June 2, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    Fab insight, great tips!! Would love to see more pictures, colours are amazing?

  • Reply beatrice July 22, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    I was at Abigail’s some time ago and had the same experience. Very nice pictures, thanks!

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