Abigail Ahern’s top 10 tips for decorating with colour

Designer, stylist and best-selling author Abigail Ahern unveils her secrets to using colour in the home
Abigail Ahern

We asked Abigail Ahern, style icon and author of Colour and A Girl’s Guide to Decorating to share her expert tips on styling with colour. Here’s what she had to say:

Designer & stylist Abigail Ahern (Credit: Abigail Ahern )

1. Follow your gut 

Colour for me, is such a personal thing. So, if you have no idea where to start on your colour scheme, the best and most simple advice I can give you is to follow your gut. When I decorate, I don’t get hung up on particulars, like the amount of natural light in a space, the architecture, the size of a room or its orientation. Go with your natural intuition when it comes to selecting colours and make sure they are personally right for you.


2. Colour palette

It took me over a year to get my colour palette for my London pad. In the end, I realised I should pick the colours I gravitate towards: be it in your wardrobe, artwork you love, images you tear out of magazines. You’ll start to work out your own palette.


(Credit: Abigail Ahern)

3. Make mistakes

I have made so many paint mistakes over the years. It takes time to perfect your colour scheme. When judging colour, never ever, ever just go by the swatch card. It won’t do the colour justice or remotely reflect how it will look in your home.


4. Be confident

Easier said than done! Go with your gut and be confident with your colour choice. Don’t listen to your peers, go with what you love and you’ll create a space you will never want to leave.


5. Get sample pots

Best tip! Get sample pots. For this, you’re going to need to paint out the biggest area you can with a sample pot. I would always paint out a whole wall, and live with that for a few days to see how you feel about it, and how it looks in every light. Even if you decide you hate it, it’s still less hassle to paint back one wall than a whole room!

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(Credit: Abigail Ahern )

6. Colour can transform a space

Remember, colour is the cheapest, most transformative thing you can to do any room. When you go for bold hues it takes confidence. You won’t always get it right first time, so don’t panic!


7. Go big or go bold

If you are decorating with bold colours, pick luxurious neutrals to complement them such as rich caramels, creamy taupe, khakis greys or blacks. These are my “new neutrals” to add a little grit and glam.


8. Pair together

A bit like a colour palette, but slightly more relaxed, try pairing colour together – blush partnered with brown, inky blue with black and gold, olive and scarlet or tangerine with brown. Just stunning.

(Credit: Abigail Ahern)

9. Have a backup plan

Always have a plan b. For me, decorating a space is all about how it make you feels, rather than trends or patterns to follow. Take my bedroom for example. I’ve painted mine out in Crosby – it’s the softest shade of brown with rosy pink undertones with beautiful calming vibes.


10. The one rule I have

I am all about breaking the rules, but the one and only rule I adhere to is the 60-30-10 rule. 60% is your wall colour, your main canvas – dark inky, moody, then the 30% is a stark opposite of white for a gritty monochrome. Usually, the 10% is a dash of an accent colour – teal blue, or metallic even. 


If you want to learn how to create beautiful and stylish spaces with confidence, book yourself a ticket to Abigail’s Australia Design Class in Melbourne on June 23 or Sydney on June 25, 2017. Tickets are available here

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