Designer Abigail Ahern on why she can’t live without her velvet sofa and why she is heading for Hillarys in Harrogate.
How would you describe your home and its style? My home was built in 1860 and it is a four-storey Victorian townhouse in East London. I’ve modernised it by building an extension and I’ve also installed a double-height crittall window in the back of the house overlooking the garden. In terms of style I am drawn to so many different styles so it’s hard to describe in just a sentence. I gravitate towards a glam but quite boho vibe and the look I like is usually super textural with the dark palette that I am best known for.
What is on your interiors wish list and why? On my interiors wish list is a new kitchen. Mine is super old and is in desperate need of an upgrade and, talking of upgrades, I’d like to revamp my bathroom. I want to use Tadelakt on the walls. It’s a versatile Moroccan plaster, which is an alternative to traditional tiles in bathrooms or wetrooms. I’d also use old floor boards on the floor and generally swish it up.
Which household items could you not live without and why? I could not live without my George Smith cashmere/velvet sofa. I’ve had it for 20 years and have never upholstered it – I love it. Also all my faux botanicals, they brighten my house like nothing else I know.
Which other designers do you most admire and why? I really admire so many other designers from Roman and Williams to Kelly Weartler and Maison Hand in France, to Dimore Studio in Italy and I also think Ellen DeGeneres has an incredible eye. They all have great sensibility and are groundbreaking in their own way.
What is your favourite building? It sounds strange but it’s the tiny little cabin at the bottom of my garden. It cost £100 and it is surrounded by trees. It is really very unassuming but I love it.
Is anything exciting you in terms of design? Yes, it is this real desire for people to decorate differently, uniquely, unexpectedly and not just follow the norm. We live in very exciting times.
What and where is your ideal home? I am choosing two, both very different. In my dream world I would have an apartment in the heart of Manhattan and a cabin in the country.
Who would you like to invite to dinner? I would like to invite Michelle Obama, I think she is so inspirational. I’d also ask Alice Waters who has changed the way we eat and Ellen Degeneres because I want her house in Malibu and plan on trying to convince her to give it to me. Oh, and Wayne Shorter because I love jazz. Finally, Jane Fonda. I am in the middle of watching the Grace and Frankie boxset and I just cannot believe she is 81 years old and acts, produces, is a political activist and who knows what else. I want to know how she does it.
Can you tell us about about your latest project, which will involve a visit to Harrogate? Yes. I’ve designed a new collection for Hillarys, which specialises in window dressings, including blinds, curtains, shutters, conservatory blinds and awnings. The company has just opened a showroom on Albert Street in Harrogate and I am coming to visit in May to do a mini masterclass in store on “How to take your home to the next level”. Abigail’s Collection is described by Hillarys as “combining a masculine aesthetic with audacious luxe appeal, this decadent range of textured and printed fabrics perfectly reflects Abigail’s darkly glamorous and edgy design style”.