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New year, new pad – guest post by Abigail Ahern

Happy 2013.

You might not know it but I am a little obsessed with interiors. I have been from the earliest age when I saved up all my pocket money to rip up the pink carpet in my bedroom to paint the floor boards out!

The reason for this obsession?  Well as odd or as glib as it sounds I truly believe that decorating can make you happier and transform your life. Coming home to a pad that you love quite simply raises your spirits, envelops you like the squishiest of blankets and gives you that instant surge of contentment – just like that feeling you get when you’ve downed a double whisky!

It’s pretty life changing and so with a new year upon us, if you’re feeling like your pad is a little tired or not up to par, some simple tricks of my trade below can turn it from drab to fab. You won’t need oodles of money but you will need (just to warn you) a big dose of confidence. Mesmerizing, tantalizing interiors only happen if you think a little differently, break some boundaries and push those decorating rules to the limit.

Celebrate individuality

Celebrating individuality

The great thing about interiors right now is that anything goes so ignore what’s hot or on trend and follow your heart. If you’re in a conundrum as to what style to go for, flick through interiors mags for inspiration (Elle Decoration, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens to name but a few) and online mags like www.lonny.com, www.ruemag.com, www.matchbookmag.com...

Grab and pull images that you’re immediately attracted too. Very soon you will have built up a collection of images where similarities shine through. Maybe you’re drawn to rooms that are rustic in style, or bold, or classic or maybe all of the above. The point of this exercise – it’s a great way to get a clear idea of your style right from the get go.

Design on a shoestring

Celebrate individuality

You don’t need a big budget to have a cool pad; style as we all know has got nothing to do with money.  I find, in fact, I am often at my most creative when budgets are restricted. I visit flea markets and auction houses and online sites like eBay seeking out brown furniture and then revamping it with intoxicating paint colours. There is no market for brown furniture these days, traders almost can’t give it away so if you like the proportions or the style, forget the hue for a second and snap it up. I’ve bought ornate mirrors from a market stall in Notting Hill for £30, a dining table which I use as my desk for £100 at a flea market and a console from an auction house for £35. I’ve sprayed the lot – tomato red, teal, you name it, any off radar colour will elevate the piece to a whole other level.

Perspex blinds

I’ve covered mdf panels with cool wallpaper and hung it like artwork, I’ve made blinds out of Perspex, crafted supersized door handles out of oak and painted stair treads in mind-blowing hues for a unique eclectic vibe.

Dare to go dark

Dare to go dark

The single most transformative thing you can do to any room is add colour. As scary as it sounds, the darker you go the cooler your home gets. In my pad I’ve painted out all the walls, trims and floors in the same inky grey. Rooms look far more interesting when you start messing around with colour and Down Pipe (my paint of choice by Farrow and Ball), has to be one of the hottest, most mentioned colours in the decorating world right now. Forget rules. All that mumbo jumbo that smaller spaces need to be painted lighter to make them feel bigger is nonsense.  If a room is small, it’s small. Embrace it! Smaller spaces feel way more snuggly, cosy and sophisticated when painted out in sludgy hues, I find. Think olives, chocolates, inky blues, greys and deepest charcoal. You will need that big dose of confidence I was talking about as the first coat always looks horrendous and you’ll be wanting to reach for the magnolia but persevere! Once you’ve crossed over to the dark side there is no going back!

Happy Decorating.

Abigail Ahern

Interior designer and author Abigail Ahern has been hailed as ‘style spotter extraordinaire’, by The Times. Her style is as unique as it is affordable and is characterised by glamour, wit and show-stopping colours.

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