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 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 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] –
[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.