Last weekend I attended Abigail Ahern’s Half Day Design Masterclass. It was an inspirational few hours, all about going off the grid and breaking the rules taught to you at design school to create truly unique interiors.

Here are the top 10 tips I took away from the class…

  1. Reign in your palette to 2-3 colours. That way, you can combine multiple textures, patterns, art movements and design eras and still create a unified look.
  2. Create FRICTION in your living spaces (rough vs. smooth, raw vs. refined, matte vs. shiny, supersized vs tiny). As they say, opposites attract and these contrasts will have your visitors tantalised.
  3.  Hang chandeliers and pendants lower than feels comfortable, and place artwork higher than one would expect, to create instant drama and a sense of grandeur.
  4.  The idea of one focal point per room is a myth. Have two or three standout pieces to keep the eyes and mind working. This will mesmerise guests as they won’t know where to look first.
  5. 80% of a room should harmonise and make sense, but 20% should stand out and be unexpected. Over 20%, and the room might appear chaotic. Under 20%, and your room could feel boring and sterile.
  6.  Create nooks and break up space for a cosy, lived-in feel. Don’t simply place furniture around the perimeter of a room. You shouldn’t be able to walk in a straight line from one side to the other. People are instantly more stimulated when they have to figure out their “own path.”
  7.  Lux up your sofa. Layer seating with comfy cushions, faux skins and throws to “dress rooms down” and create that perfectly imperfect look.
  8. The ceiling should be considered a fifth wall. Paint woodwork, walls and the ceiling the same hue to achieve a feeling of infinity.
  9. Cityscaping (i.e. placing varying heights and shapes together) is essential when arranging plants or accessories. Layering and overlapping different shapes and sizes creates interest. Also, remember to style in odd numbers not even.
  10. Accessories are the soul of a room. They are the perfect way to express your personality and no living space feels complete without them.

For more on Abigail’s design ethos, sign up to one of her classes. Or, if you’re considering making a drastic palette change, I’d recommend buying her book Colour. It’s sure to give you the confidence you need to take the plunge and be bold with your paint choices.