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Home Library: A Girl's Guide to Decorating

Home Library: A Girl's Guide to Decorating

When I think of interior designer and stylist Abigail Ahern, who also owns one of London's leading interiors stores, there are a few things that come to mind. One is the Neo Baroque Chandelier in her collection — one of the most breathtaking and showstopping pieces I have ever come across. And the other is her perfected and signature use of Farrow & Ball's "Downpipe" paint from floor to ceiling — which inspired my own gray(-ish) kitchen. And last, her playful use of both scale and vibrant colors, evident in both her own home (which you can tour here) and her sister's, which was featured in the New York Times. What this all adds up to is that the girl's got serious design skills.


So it's no surprise that Ahern's new book, A Girl's Guide to Decorating, is filled with plenty of inspiring and helpful design advice, not to mention gorgeous photos. Want to hear about it? Then read more.

The book covers a few of the fundamentals of decorating, including planning, color, light, texture, and accents, what she calls "glamorous personal touches."

When it comes to planning, some of her tips may feel irrelevant if you're not doing any renovating, but overall her advice will apply to renters and homeowners alike, with words on arranging multi-use rooms and using different types of mirrors to your advantage.

Throughout the book, Ahern offers tried-and-true how-to advice on things like putting up shelves, hanging mirrors, and making over your kitchen cabinets — task that are never as easy they seem. This might be my favorite element of the book.

As for those glamorous touches, she advocates using eccentric and rare finds and mixing-and-matching to give your home that X-factor. She offers various routes for arranging display items on a shelf, as well as artwork and pictures. And to finish it off, she recommends switching out door handles and drawer knobs.

Since we might not all be sold on "Down Pipe," Ahern considers the effects of colors warm and cool on your mood, and attempts to conquer the query of good vs. bad color combinations. Color, as you know, is a personal, subjective choice, but Ahern manages to handle it analytically. With so many swatch options out there, this is a relief. Beyond that, she gets down to the bottom of paint finishes and their effects, which can be illuminating for some of us.

She continues this combination of technical, practical advice mixed with her own design tips through her chapters on light and texture. And all the while, she pulls easy and universally affordable style advice from the photographs of dozens of beautiful, unique rooms — including the home of former Domino editor Rita Konig. This terrific tome is equal parts informative and inspiring, and both are bound to help even a "dude" decorator.

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