sneak peek: gemma ahern


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.

  1. Serin says:

    could anyone tell me the color/brand of the paint used on the hot pink coffee table or something similar?

  2. Millicent says:

    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.

  3. Lynn lee says:

    love it

  4. Karen says:

    Millicent – Try ‘Down Pipe’ by Farrow and Ball.

  5. Anette says:

    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!

  6. Rebecca says:

    they have guts. love love.

  7. Bonnaty says:

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

  8. Don’t think I could live in it – but wonderfully beautiful it is!!!!

  9. violet says:

    What does MDF stand for?

    1. grace says:

      Medium density fibreboard :)

  10. susan says:

    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!

    1. Saina says:

      Its duco. The paint used for cars as well.

  11. Lynda says:

    Can anyone tell me what brand and color of paint that gray is? I’m copying the hallway…for a start.

    1. Saina says:

      That is Benjamin Moore Iron Mountain 2134-30.

  12. Eliana Tomas says:

    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.

  13. monika says:

    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.

  14. mike says:

    Great use of colour, the table really brightens up the whole atmosphere.

  15. Jill says:

    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!

  16. gavrosh says:

    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.

  17. Agatha says:

    I like the colors, not too dark with the splash of pink.

  18. chaglam says:

    I love this home. congratulations!

  19. Katie says:

    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!?!

  20. Rosie says:

    Please please tell what the paint colours are!!! I NEED the pink in my life!!! Thanks :)

  21. Jenifer Jones says:

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

  22. Mike says:

    What is the name of the gray wall paint? It’s great!

  23. jody DeCoste says:

    What is the grey colour it looks fab!!!

  24. Liz says:

    What is the lamp by the reading nook?

  25. Dyn says:

    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!

  26. So many different ideas combining to form something uniquely wonderful.

  27. 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.

  28. Casie Brown says:

    Has anyone found out the spraypaint????? PLEASE I NEED THAT SPRAYPAINT lol

  29. judy says:

    I love all the colors! What brand and color name?

  30. I love the unexpected splashes of pink in this home!
    Really works well as a accent color!

  31. RA says:

    The grey is Farrow & Ball Down Pipe.

  32. Ashlee says:

    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!!

    1. Bérangère says:

      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.

      1. Bérangère says:

        And her website where you will find the wallpaper.


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