Abigail AhernAdviceGuest postsInterior design

Utilising your space to the max

The nature of your space will push your design in certain directions but irrespective of whether you live in a shoebox or a sprawling farmhouse, the trick is to utilise the space that you have to the max.

As odd as this may sound, I am more of a lover of the smaller spaces than I am the larger; they feel cosier somehow. I’ve seen some ingenious ways of making apartments in overcrowded cities like London, NYC and Paris look amazing with double dutying space saving tricks. Coffee tables that double duty as storage chests, sofas as beds, stools with lids… you name it.

Conversely if you have large open plan spaces you can run into trouble with the space feeling cold and sterile, so my advice would be to change the perception of its size. It’s easier than you think because all you really need to do is add visual interest through dazzling colours, rugs, zoning off areas and creating oodles of layers.

Making large spaces work

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Having an open plan space can feel quite daunting with rooms spilling into each other yet somehow you have to make it all look cohesive and beautiful. My top tip would be to create a sense of connection through a consistent colour palette and sticking to one style of flooring throughout. The more you break up the space with different treatments the more confusing it can feel. What I’ve done in my pad is skim different coloured rugs over my open plan space so each area feels different, yet as the colours harmonise – cohesive. So each zone feels different (way too boring otherwise) but also it totally gels. Nailed!

Cosying up open plan spaces

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A fab way of cosying up large spaces is through texture or texturising as we say in the biz. Large open plan cavernous spaces can often feel cold and sterile so texture is key. Softly woven wool rugs over concrete floors for instance, velvet cushions on leather sofas, wood butting up against glass — the more texture you add the more intrigue you create. The more flowers, candles, cushions and books the better as accessories shake up the monotony of a room and give it a theatrical air – imperative for large spaces. I say this a lot to my clients, “you may not be an exhibitionist but your accessories should be”!

Small is beautiful

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People often try to make small spaces appear bigger and that’s where they seem to go wrong. It’s a huge mistake in my book. Think about embracing their snugness instead and don’t paint them out in a pale hue. It won’t make rooms feel larger, just sadder. Paint them in a cool colour instead, some intoxicating hue that takes your breath away and decorate it with attitude. The second mistake that people often make is downsizing the furniture to fit small rooms. Don’t do it as it only makes them appear more bijoux. Vary the height of your possessions, add some pattern and a dose of colour and before you know it you’ll be thinking about how cool your space is rather than how small it is!

Whether you have a big space or a small one, push the colour envelope, inject instant personality through accessories and take the emphasis away from the practical stuff and redirect it to the glamorous stuff. It’s all about seducing the eye with surface attractions. Oh and remember to get the jaw hitting the floor you’ve got to go a little off radar with some of your choices. I’m a big believer that our homes should reflect ourselves, what we love and who we are so overdose on the big three hitters, colour, pattern and texture, no matter how big or small your pad!

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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  1. I have to admit, I hate organizing things with myself, I was used to be dependent to my mom and eldest sister, but when I started to work, I’ve learn how to do it with myself.Now, I am living in a small apartment where you cannot find a clutter anymore, things are organized and walls are painted with light color.

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