interior designInteriorssneak peeks

sneak peek: gemma ahern

by anne

if our final sneak peek takes you back to of the home of abigail ahern, there’s a reason – it belongs to her sister gemma (and boyfriend russell lewis), 40 miles outside of london. you may also recognize the space from this piece in the new york times, but gemma was kind enough to send us over some new shots from different angles, so we thought it would be fun to share. the two sisters teamed up  – gemma is also part of the atelier abigail ahern design team – to create a fabulously stylish pad without spending loads of money. the plan for the apartment plan was to spend $10,300 (or £6,500) of their hard earned savings for a complete overhaul – this meant gutting out the apartment entirely (its  1,200 square feet) and literally beginning again. the result is stunning, and definitely not something you see everyday. thanks so much gemma and abigail! [all images by graham atkins hughes] –anne

[above: First up was the living room. We pulled up the yucky carpet and laid very cheap but wide floor boards which we painted the deepest darkest hue. We then painted the walls the exact same colour. We sprayed a coffee table in Barbie esq pink to enliven the space and then went about sourcing quirky elements to add a sense of humour to the space. Oh I should add that adding glossy things means that the light gets reflected back beautifully and therefore adds a touch of instant glamour. Flea market lamps adorn the space as well as a penguin cast from concrete with a light bulb on his head, which we all fell in love with. We added extra intrigue by lining one of the walls with bookcase wallpaper to make it feel clubby, and very boutique hotelish. ]

We kept the sofa within the same tonal range (actually it used to be mine – and seeing it look so fab here – I’m rather wanting it back)! Wallpaper is a cheap way of enlivening walls and at the same time adds instant character. This paper isn’t particularly cheap – and it was one of their higher spends but when you compare it to buying a fabulous art – it really is.

I love this mantle – the dark smoky colours bring instant sophistication but it’s the things on it I love the most. Quirky and funny its a great perch for some animals to hang out on! All are flea market finds and the letters are from Tate Modern which we painted pink to add a dash of panache!

We needed to add more seating but keep costs low and the bay window seemed the perfect answer to box out and pile with slubby cushions. Roller blinds are also perfect for little nooks as they add simple style at a reasonable cost.

We wanted to make the kitchen more than just a place to cook – instead a cool place to hang out in. We kept the kitchen carcass but replaced existing doors with MDF doors which we then spray painted an inky blue. The trick here was to make the doors slightly longer than you normally would do so they look way more bespoke and expensive than they really are. Again making them slightly glossy reflects the light opening up the space. The table we found in a flea market for $60 and sprayed jet black.

Hallways can be so boring being the transitional place they often are so we wanted to add some fun! We mixed and matched picture styles and frames as well as interspersing them with other objects like giant lettering – all sourced from eBay and flea markets. It really reinforces the fun eclectic mood of the space I think. Finally we took a length of fancy pants wallpaper and casually hung it from bulldog clips – super inexpensive and an easy way to display art.

We enliven boring old MDF wardrobes with strips of wood which we then painted Barbie esq. pink. The key here was to really play around with scale its one of our tricks of the trade. Oversized and confident they provide a striking embellishment to otherwise featureless wardrobe doors. The bus roll signage we got from eBay

Again we fattened up shop brought shelves with MDF making them look far more expensive than they really are. They then make a fab display area which we piled with books and keepsakes in a simple way. Displaying in this way really helps to create a personal narrative of life and adds interest to rooms.

I mention this idea in my book, as this is one of our most popular things [shelf] I get asked about all the time.  Fattening up shop brought floating shelves (this came from Ikea) by boxing out with MDF is the way to go. This immediately makes them more bespoke and glamorous looking than they really are. We hung it close to the floor for maximum impact! A sprayed on coat of glossy black paint also transforms the second- hand picture frame.

Suggested For You


  • I love this, and I love all the fairly easy DIY ideas herein. The dark colors look amazing here with the bright splashes of other colors!

  • oh wow. this is the most gorgeous place ever… i am obsessed with spray painting things shocking pink… did some letters & photoframes in the very same way- feel inspired to get stuck in with something more substantial now

  • Talk about expert handling of the spray paint can! Wow! I’m impressed with the finish achieved here. Share your no-drip secrets, please!

  • Wow – I loved seeing this right next to the previous sneak peek (Scott Engler) – they seem to have similar tastes but completely different palettes. absolutely wonderful example of dark and light homes, both are beautiful! what a day, anne!

  • I absolutely love the color palette!

    …but I really, really need to straighten the handlebars on that bike.

  • Really really nice. I couldn´t live with such dark colors but it looks amazing. Love the kitchen especially!

  • Sweet! I love the gray with the pops of bright colour. I have been wanting to paint a ton of things gray lately.

  • In love! I’ve always wanted to use dark paint like this, but I’ve been talked out of it by everyone who says the space will look too small and cave-like. Not so! The dark background really lets the furniture and accessories POP.

  • What an amazing use of color as an accent. I’m surprised how great that book wallpaper looks – I love the unique look it gives the place. It definitely has a very distinct character!

  • I’ve been searching for my style of interior design for years and this is it!! I love, love, love it! Thank you so much for this post!

  • That is a lot of gray…interesting. I’m most curious as to why the fridge opens like that. Switch those handles!

  • I can’t stop looking at this one. I recently painted a couple of charcoal grey accent walls but seeing this home makes me want to paint everything dark. And that kitchen… the blue cupboards, dark table and purple hydrangeas… stunning!

  • Amazing amazing amazing! Their shop looks incredibly as well. I’ve always been a big fan of having most of the color in a space exist in the accessories rather than walls. Love!
    xo Katherine aka. Urban Flea :)

  • Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! If only there was a box window on which to put “slubby cushions” in my own home. *sigh*

  • JENNIFER and CLAUDI LAVALLE – go to Atelier Abigail Ahern via the link at top. Be prepared though – it ain’t cheap

  • this is so dark and SO beautifully bright at the same time! those colour accents just make this place jump at you with freshness and I must have that pink coffee table!

  • I loved this home in the NYT, and really appreciate the extra shots and comments from Abigail herself here. Crikey, I wish she was *my* sister!

  • I love the collection of artwork at the top of the stairs and I’m obsessed with the giant pear in the kitchen! Where did you find that. This is a sexy place to live.

  • I am soooo close to painting all of the pine plank floors in our 1845 stone farmhouse…..They look great in pictures, but am worried about the upkeep!

  • Gosh this is such a beautiful space.

    Really really gorgeous.

    Is the color in the living room the same as the color behind the bed? Do you mind sharing the paint color?

    I really like the seating by the bay window and the kitchen is great, too. Nice job. :)

  • oh how i have loved this place ever since i saw that first pic with that amazing pink table… oh love love love it :)

  • This looks like the kind of place I’d love to visit for a holiday weekend.(Couldn’t live with it on a long-term basis.) Definitely trendy. Very rock ‘n’ roll. Quite inspirational! Thanks D*S!

  • Thank you loolah! but I was wondering where you got the clock/calender display above the refrigerator. I love it!

  • OMG!!! I can’t stop gawking at these pictures! These Ahern sisters are pure genius!

    The play with colours and scales in this apartment blows me away!

    I admit I probably can’t live in a house this dark & gloomy but, my God, that doesn’t stop me from admiring it nontheless!

    Oh, and can I please thank you, designsponge, for constantly inspiring me?

  • Very inspiring sneak peeks today, Anne! Love this one best. The dark colors are very dramatic! Not sure if I could pull this off in my house, but so fun anyway!

  • I love the idea of spray painting tables and cabinets, but how do you get such a high gloss, and doesn’t spray paint chip really easily? Seems too good to be true. What is the original material of the pink table. Thanks! Love it, by the way!

  • i love love love this house.
    the pink is amazing and so grown up.
    its not even the slightest bit barbie
    talka bout talent

  • Am I the only one who’d say I admire the ideas and the boldness of the place, but think it is out of place in a home ? If this is indeed in London, it should come with a pack of anti-depressors.

    However, the designing skills are impressive. Well worthy of a magazine !!

  • I’m usually such a fan of white and cream colors with pops of color, but the beautiful grey with the pops of color is stunning! The colors keep it from looking too dark, but still stylish.

  • What a stunning place! All that slate paint contrasted with the gloriously colorful accents — absolutely gorgeous. But jeeze, do you guys have a policy against editing the featured owner’s submitted blurbs? “Fattening up shop brought floating shelves (this came from Ikea) by boxing out with MDF is the way to go.” What does that even mean?

  • Guess Alisa, Loora, and I are in the minority…..bold yes, but could the rest of you REALLY live there????? C’mon, be honest. its SO somber………and what’s with the “pile o mops” in the 4th picture? I hope they were purchased at a Janitors supply, and not some high end gallery.

  • absolutely breathtaking! after a few peeks a little bit too ordinary or strange, this one is a heck of a fantastic inspiration! so much personality! such great taste! wonderful!

  • What a lovely house, so many brilliant ideas? I love the idea of painting the floorboards in the same colour as the walls. You say you covered the floor with cheap broad floorboards. I like the idea of them being broad, but only seem to find solid hardwood broad floorboards which are quite expensive. Am I looking at the wrong stuff, did you use another type of broad board? Please share your secrets!! Thanks a lot

  • I’m with you Bernie. If one room, for example, the bedroom were painted a dark color, that would be okay. But to have a dark palette in every room along with dark furniture would be so depressing. The other thing that bothered me, was the furniture being the same hue as the walls, I’d be afraid I’d trip over the furniture.

  • i see cozy…no sense of dreary at all! I’d love to know the paint color too! I’ve always wanted a dark cozy home…i find that darker wall colors tie everything in the room together and make the colorful things pop! white-walled rooms often feel disparate and uncomfortable to me. That window nook looks especially inviting…love the yellow with grey again! xo

  • oh. mah. gawd. i could die in this apartment. (i think the darkness is sultry and luxurious – not depressing at all!)

  • Nice design… I LOVE the bold pink coffee table [in this space]. The bookshelf wallpaper is clever.

    The kitchen is incredibly sexy, the blue cabinets are gorgeous.

    Although the palette is a little dark for some folks the design is awesome…design is about knowing what objects, colors, & structural elements work well together and the eye for detail is undeniable in this space.

  • I’m loving the hints of pink and red in each room. Everything from the poster mats to the bike to the bold letters. Great space!

  • This place is gorgeous, no question! But it’s almost too overwhelmingly theatrical/sexy for a home. It seems like the designers wanted to hit people over the head with their theory and ideas. But I can imagine this place in a movie…

  • Love the color scheme! The accent colors work beautifully off the charcoal walls. So sophisticated and unexpected!

  • Hi Sarah,
    We sell the bookcase wallpaper in our store, http://www.atelierabigailahern.com.
    Its by a young Brit designer who we adore and infact its one of our best sellers!

  • That clock is the Karlsson Big Flip Clock. I also LOVE it.


  • Oh my gosh, I love the hot pink table and accent letters. I throw that colour in my cobalt blue living room sometimes and it is so much fun.

  • Wow, I am more invigorated about dark color than ever. I have black interior doors and dark walls but had been too scared to do the stairwell w/dark trim work… ( its a Seattle thing :) I am so inspired. I know its scary but dark colors feel cozy and really show off your objects and textiles. thanks.

  • I am completely in love with this home. I wanted to paint my bedroom that color gray, but was pressured into compromise by the live-in BF. Grrr.

  • this is the most beautiful sneek peak ever!! :)
    i’m sure i’ve seen you on the tv running your own makeover series – if it is you, you rock

    thanks for the sneak :)

  • I love gray and have always used it in my decorating although most people consider it a depressing color. I painted my powder room dark charcoal gray, all walls and ceiling too and then use white or pops of color for artwork, towels and flowers–it’s gorgeous and I get lots of compliments. I love the couch in the living room–is it b&b italia?

  • I have total home envy. Such bold colors! Such smart use of scale!! I love that a lot of the work was done on a tight budget or was diy.

  • Ooh yes, I would love to know where the moppy pillow came from. I can’t tell you how much I love everything about that nook!

  • Hi guys,
    Moppy pillow which is otherwise known as a rasta is from our store http://www.atelierabigailahern.com. Its quite pricey I hate to say but its made from 100% merino wool and is hand woven by an Italian collective – and comes in 80 different colourways!

  • Like Abigail’s apartment I love everything about this. And there’s a book? I know what I’m going to buy…

  • There is really nothing that I dont think is great about this transformation,its great all the way around!!

  • I would love to know the color & brand of the grey wall paint, as well as the finish! Pray tell…good greys are so hard to find.

  • Both Gemma and Abigail’s sneak peaks are two of the most inspiring I’ve seen so far; so many brave and bold combinations of styles and colors, but still so amazingly elegant!

  • Amazing, I love, I love, I love, especially the “bubble” light in the 4th image, where did you find it ????

  • i was wondering what spray paint to use to get the same Barbie pink and the glossiness the table has. does anyone know?? i LOVE it!

  • I can’t find the right words to comment on this interior design. It’s so full of detail. It’s so full of personality. It’s stunning. Very well done. Congrats to the client and to the designer.

  • This home oozes relaxed, effortless comfortable sophistication. Simly lovely! I’m so envious…I’m ready to grab a can of spray paint and go paint something… now.

  • like WOW!!! i loved it as soon as my eyes scanned the first pic! love the old meets modern concept! its soo nice :) every detail is absolutely perfect!

  • Hello!
    I like the place, the details made it stylish and really personal. I would like to know from where the sofa comes? I´m looking for one like this.

  • Oh my god, I’m so silly! I thought they were real bookshelves! I love this home, I’d love to live there! But maybe i would have real book shelves instead of wallpaper!?!

  • I REALLY have been looking for days for the same color hot pink paint. Where did you get that at? I must know! :)

  • 4th image down, the hanging lamp in the reading nook – please identify! I use to know but can’t remember and have been searching for it. thanks!

  • I don’t normally go for such dark colours, but I absolutely love the look they have achieved! It’s a truly fabulous mix of the modern and eclectic.

  • Hi! I love this–great job! I know this is late to the post but can you let me know where you found the amazing book wallpaper? Thank you!!

    • Still one of my favourites after 8 years. I take initiative in responding because this post is so old and you might wait a while for an answer. :) If you like this, you should Abigail Ahern’s space too (like mentioned above, she is her sister) and was featured here too but it’s been updated since on Apartment therapy. Here is the link for the eye candy. :) It never stops to inspire. http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/abigail-aherns-dark-and-dramatic-east-london-home-house-tour-205371#_

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.

читать дальше chemtest.com.ua

обращайтесь chemtest.com.ua