Sydney Decoration + Design 2013 - Part 2

As you may know I had a whirlwind trip to and around Sydney mainly to attend Decoration+Design. (I was recently reminded that I shouldn’t be surprised that people know where I have been, when it is discussed on blog/facebook/twitter etc!) I shared my product faves with you in Part 1, however the highlight for me was obviously the seminars by Abigail Ahern and Greg Natale.

Abigail Ahern’s lounge room. Dark, inky palette brightened with multiple light points. More on the RSD Blog
{Abigail’s own lounge. Dark, inky palette brightened with multiple light points. Source}

The queen of eclecticism and dark, moody interiors, Abigail Ahern, was over from the UK in her own whirlwind Sydney sojourn. Her seminar drifted through her style guides and tricks of the trade, complemented by spectacular imagery. These spaces, tips and tricks are all summarising beautifully in her book.

Spend the money on her gorgeous book Decorating with Style if you want the full run-through, its worth it for so much more than the cool pictures, of which there are stacks! We lucky Aussies managed to snag an early release at the conference - it isn’t available in the UK until March!

Decorating with Style, Abigail Ahern, 2013 Quadrille Publishing.  See More #Decoration and #Design on the RSD Blog.
{Decorating with Style, Abigail Ahern, 2013 Quadrille Publishing}

That she is true to herself and dismisses rules, trends and forecasts, is evident in her impressive and cohesive body of work. She really knows her stuff - presenting whimsical, eclectic spaces that have personality, depth and cool, without necessarily costing a fortune. One of my favourites was her sister’s small apartment. As she repeated continuously throughout her presentation, if you design and decorate right, people won’t notice that it’s small, they’ll just notice that it’s cool! One of my favourite room’s was the bedroom with its giant red and white ‘yes’ light (shown previously here) with dark walls continuing onto the ceiling plane to distract from the low, angled ceiling. “Play with the smallness. Distract with cool”.

Abigail asserts that “Style has nothing to do with money. It is all a matter of perspective and opinion”. Here are a few tips that Abigail dropped at the seminar (with a little added extra from me) that might help the budding decorator out there:

1) Paint! Paint is the number one, cheapest, quickest and easiest (although my husband would disagree with the last two) way to visually wow your guests. Abigail suggests you continue colour onto the ceiling and even floor to create a seamless background for the pieces you insert in the space. I’m not entirely convinced that this would work in every space, particularly since we have spent the last four years trying to paint over the god-awful yellowy-peachy-cream that the last owners bombed every surface of our interiors with (hello ceiling white, people!). However, I can picture a moody little study/library/sitting room with inky midnight walls, ceiling and trims, swallowing you up in a great big coat. I love this room (below) so much I’m posting it again - even though, I know, I have posted it before (yes, I know, only a few weeks ago!) and I just noticed that the ceiling wasn’t the same colour as the walls.

Interiors in Abigail Ahern’s 'Decorating with Style'. More #Decoration and #Design on the RSD Blog.
{I love the pop of the bold red chair against the dark dramatic surrounds in this room. Interiors in Abigail Ahern’s Decorating with Style book}

2) Embellish Furniture. Up the ante on second hand or chain store cheapo finds with colour, accessories, details and points of difference. Swap out handles and knobs for inappropriate items, decoupage patterned craft paper, magazine articles or vintage comic books on to surfaces, paint bright surprises of colour such as the inside or sides of drawers, switch standard legs for ornate contrasting ones. Pinterest is flooding with DIY projects for Ikea and other standard furniture, just waiting to be tried or reinvented. The best thing is that since you didn’t spend a lot of money on it in the first place, you can afford to take risks with bold, odd-ball colours and quirky accessories. As always, I’m forever a fan of the old upcycling of market, thrift or roadside treasures.

Pretty Pegs inspired DIY furniture legs for an Ikea bed by Morning By Foley. See More #Decoration and #Design on the RSD Blog.
{Pretty Pegs inspired DIY furniture legs for an Ikea bed by Morning By Foley}

3) Group ‘cheap’ art en mass. Don’t be afraid to frame up quirky unlimited prints, market finds, greeting cards, postcards, wrapping paper, photos, old calendar images, scribbled notes, doodles, maps, really anything that speaks to you. When read as a whole, people won’t pay much attention to the minute details and will instead be blown away by the scale. You get to save money and be surrounded by lots of little things that you love. Just make sure that you pay for the work. I have been guilty in the past of printing cool images off the web and framing them up, but if it is a struggling artist (which artist isn’t) and you really love it, most of the time they are reasonably priced, especially in places like markets and etsy. Trust me, it will feel much more precious and special if you do.

Cool artwork grouped together. Cat girl (right) by Burntfeather. I have this. I love it! More on the RSD Blog.
{Cool artwork grouped together. Image via Weekday Carnival. Cat girl (right) by Burntfeather. I have this. I love it!}

4) Don’t forget the floor. Use tape, paint, carpet tiles or whatever is at your disposal to add interest and excitement to the floor. Much cheaper than a custom designer rug, and you can change it with your decor. There is a great DIY ‘How to create a chevron floor’ tutorial in Abigail’s book. (page 97, in case you were wondering).

Taped stripes to floor of Kate Spade store. More #Decoration and #Design on the RSD Blog
{Taped stripes to floor of Kate Spade store. Original image by Rebecca June}

#Teal #painted #floor of Jessica and Daniel Were’s house. More #Decoration and #Design on the RSD Blog.
{I bought Real Living magazine (Nov 2012 Issue) because this gorgeous teal floor of Jessica and Daniel Were’s house was on the cover. Bravery pays off! Via Pinterest}

{You could even paint a plain old rug like this DIY by Ellinée}

5) Lighting, Lighting, Lighting! According to Abigail, you just can’t have enough light sources. I tend to agree with her in terms of mood and atmosphere (not so much with her love of incandescents and dislike of LEDs - Perhaps I’ll have to do a post on all the cool spaces with LED lighting and the new ways to enhance, manipulate and play with them. I digress). Layer up the lighting - pendants, table lamps, floor lamps, candles, directed spot lighting. You should have as many different lights as you can fit, just make sure not to overlight the space and eliminate shadow. Shadows add another layer of texture and depth. In keeping with this, “Overhead lights should not be the main source of light.” You can see she believes this and follows through in her enveloping, moody but cozy interiors. Just check out her office!

Abigail Ahern’s office space. How cool is that desk! More on the RSD Blog.
{Abigail’s office space. How cool is that desk! Source}

6) Layers and Texture. Abigail defines ‘eclectic’ as “nothing matches, but it works”, insisting that if you can contain yourself to a reined in colour palette, you can go nuts and take risks with colour, pattern and texture. You can never have too many contrasting textures and layers if you work tonally, again, rein in that colour palette. If you want to know much, much more about layering and textures, it is a repeated topic on Abigail’s blog. Her blog is addictive. Well written, full of tips and of course yummy interiors pics.

Abigail Ahern’s bedroom - talk about layering! More on the RSD Blog.
{Abigail’s bedroom - talk about layering and textures! Image from her blog}

Abigail Ahern manages to narrowly skate the margins between edgy and crazy, but you just can’t help but think only really awesome people inhabit her spaces.

I’m afraid with all this Abigail Ahern goodness, I really don’t have room or time to go into all my favourite Greg (Natale) interiors just now. Sorry but I think I am going to have to do a Part 3. Sigh. I know. I apologise if you read through all this just itching for some Natale eye candy.

Until next time (I promise it won’t be too long)

xo Romona

PS. I’d love any comments you have on the blog. What bits you like. What you want to see more of. I welcome any and all conversation Happy

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