Colour and materialsInspirationPainting and decorating

The new paint revolution

I am obsessed with colour because as a designer it’s one of the most transformative things that you can do to any client’s house and it’s also the cheapest. It has such transformative powers. It can change our mood, it can uplift, soothe, excite, transport… the possibilities are indeed endless. A simple can of paint can make a room look and feel far more luxurious than it really is.

There are some tricks that I use time and time again to take my spaces to the next level. They all have two things in common and that’s thinking differently about your colour choices and trying to go out of your comfort zone if you can. Scary stuff I know, but it’s only when you start pushing boundaries that you get the most incredible results.

Here are a few of my top tips:

Don’t play it safe

I’ve learnt this through experience – the more you push the colour boundaries, the more enticing and intriguing your home will look. I tend to think we play it a little too safe with our palettes. You only have to look at countless magazines to see endlessly styled white homes. Spaces like this are OK, but they just don’t cause your heart to skip a beat, or your pulse rate to increase. To do that you’ve got to take a few scary risks. You will probably doubt yourself and worry that you’ve pushed it too far (I know I did), but believe me if you stick with it the results will be amazing.

Dabble with black

I am obsessed with black, which is funny because I used to be so scared of it. I used to think that painting a room out in black would look depressing – how wrong I was! My studio (above) is actually my favourite room in the house. It cocoons, it wraps me in the most snuggly of blankets, it’s luxurious, it’s glamorous – I love it!

My top tip when going black is to specify soft blacks. I’m launching a paint range later this month so have spent the last year endlessly researching paint. Here is what I’ve learnt. You cannot go cheap with paint. The more expensive paints are expensive for a reason. They are mostly made from pigments from the earth; clay, sand, stone so they have incredible depth and redolence. Whilst you can choose a copy, the cheaper counterparts are comprised of synthetics so they may look the same however once applied to walls you will see just how flat they really are. The more expensive paints have undertones (layers and layers of colour) so in my room above, yes the colour is black but it has oodles of brown in it making it the softest colour on the planet.

Go Bold

I love to use high voltage shots of colour – think jungle greens and teals as accent colours. You can, if you dare, paint the whole room out in them, however I prefer to paint wardrobe doors out in them or a table or console. What I love about these hues is that they immediately draw the eye so if your room is lacking focal points these will instantly add them.

Go for red

Red is a scary colour to use on walls. I ummed and arred before painting out my hallway (four storeys) in this red (see above). This hue is powerful but it’s also subtle at the same time and supremely luxurious with undertones of black. So it’s inky, it’s confident and it adds immediate warmth and glamour. I really had to push myself to be this daring but now it’s up, the weirdest thing is that it doesn’t feel daring at all and I wonder why I spent so long procrastinating about working with it!

Feel blue

Elegant, sophisticated, relaxing blue is one of those hues that works in almost any space no matter the style. I am obsessed with midnight blues and grey blues – velvety deep soft colours that transport you to another place. You can team blue with almost any other hue and it will work. It’s the reason  I love them so much, they are super versatile.

The colours that I’ve pinpointed here are all quite bold, but once you take the plunge and convert to the dark side there really is no going back. All of these hues are timeless so no matter if you live uptown, downtown, on the coast or in the country, they work anywhere. I gravitate towards spaces that feel relaxed, laid back and lived in so I go all out and paint everything (I mean everything) out in the same hue. Walls, ceilings, floors, trim… all in the same colour! I promise you it’s one of the most transformative things that you can do to your space. When you blur the boundaries and walls merge into ceilings, you’re leaning towards creating infinity. Whether you are a traditionalist or an urbanite, pushing your colour choices will totally and utterly reinvent your space and turn it into a home which you will never want to leave.


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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