sneak peek: gemma ahern

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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. ]

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

Emily

Normally I wouldn’t go for this dark of a color palette, but it is absolutely gorgeous!

visualingual

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!

Jennifer

Where is the clock on top of the fridge from?! I WANT IT!

sophie

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

Ann K.

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

Calvine

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!

Gilby

I absolutely love the color palette!

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

Lillian

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

Martha

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.

pinkpop

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!

Lindsay

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!

Jenna

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

Erin

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!

Katherine aka. Urban Flea

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 :)

Claudia Lavalle

Absolutely love the book shelve wallpaper! Would you happen to know where is it from??

Emily

this place is awesome

i can’t see a thing i would change

love the pop of pink

great!

miss liss

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

loolah

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

Regina

I love that clock over the bicycle…where is that from?

Zoo

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!

alisa

hmmm, that much gray paint where I live (the Northwest) might cause a household-wide suicide pact…

Jo in NZ

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!

Allison

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.

EB Finds

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!

erin lang norris

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. :)

Monique

I am so in love with these spaces… and swooning. man. wise choices and impeccable taste got married.

Alison Richards

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

CLF

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!

Jennifer

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

Max T.

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?

NB

Hands-on design projects are so refreshing, no matter how dark the colour palette is!

Kirsten

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!

Liz

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!

ashleigh

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

Loora

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 !!

Crystal Cierlak

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.

gottalottawalls

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?

Bernie

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.

fabi

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!

An

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

Tina

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.

katie runnels

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

will

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

becky z-dub

please please please tell us where you got the clock on top of the fridge! amazing!

Ms. Peacock

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.

claire

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!

Marie

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…

Kimberly

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

Suzanne

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.

kim

so much yes.

some of my favorite color combos, at that.

Anne Viggiano

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.

Judy

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.

emma wyngaard

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 :)

Barbara

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?

Ariel Gordon

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.

nicole

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!

katherine

Where can I find the chandelier over the nook? Looks familiar but I can’t find it… Thanks!

jennifer in sf

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

roddie Turner

where is the source for the roller shades? They seem nicely opaque.

Shishi

Why on earth have a wallpaper with a picture of books when you can have the real thing?

Serin

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

Millicent

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.

Karen

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

Anette

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!

Bonnaty

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

susan

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!

Lynda

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

Eliana Tomas

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.

monika

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.

Jill

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!

gavrosh

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.

Katie

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!?!

Rosie

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

Jenifer Jones

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

Dyn

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!

Nicola Holden

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.

Casie Brown

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

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