Abigail Ahern http://www.abigailahern.org Blog Thu, 31 Jul 2014 14:41:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 My latest current obsession,The Ace Hotel LA http://www.abigailahern.org/2014/07/31/latest-current-obsessionthe-ace-hotel-la/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=latest-current-obsessionthe-ace-hotel-la http://www.abigailahern.org/2014/07/31/latest-current-obsessionthe-ace-hotel-la/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 14:26:12 +0000 http://www.abigailahern.org/?p=7793 My latest Current Ob. Ace Hotel LA

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This post would have happened about 3 hours earlier had I not taken the two M’s for a walk.  They meandered over to a  puddle (harmless enough thought I and its hot) only to then lay and jump and roll in the most stagnant muddy thing on earth. Then they leapt all over me and all three of us stunk and were dripping with mud with people laughing as we walked along. Consequently we’ve all been in the bath, just not together!

Lets not talk about them, they’ve both put themselves to bed (all the excitement has floored them) and talk about my latest Current Ob. The Ace Hotel, in LA. I’m off to LA in a few weeks to shoot for my new book (super exciting) and I reckon I might be checking into this place.

Designed by the über cool collective Commune who have designed some of the coolest residential and commercial spaces on the planet including all the Ace’s stateside.  The latest to open is the Ace in downtown LA. I love how they’ve meshed California modernism with some quirky Tinsel town touches. As vogue so succinctly put it ‘the result a cool kid clubhouse both laid back and lavish’

The Ace inhabits the once famous United Artist theatre and its been beautifully restored to its original grandeur. Throw into that mix commissioned pieces from a checklist of local artists and  it feels creative yet utterly liveable.In addition to Ace Hotel’s top-notch food, coffee and drinks by restaurateur Jud Mongell and chef Ken Addington of Brooklyn’s cult eatery Five Leaves there is a focus on cool music. I’m liking!

I was hoping to hold a Design Class there for one day at the end of August but I’m not sure I can fit it in, and am not sure August is the best month for Design Schools with so many people away!

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Geography Inspired Décor http://www.abigailahern.org/2014/07/31/geography-inspired-decor/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=geography-inspired-decor http://www.abigailahern.org/2014/07/31/geography-inspired-decor/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 05:29:07 +0000 http://www.abigailahern.org/?p=7786 Map-tastic decor!

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Decorating with maps is something I’ve kind of avoided. Not sure why maybe it’s those pastel pages that cause the problem although if you check out the image above the maps are really rather cool. It’s a trend that I’m seeing more and more of – map tastic décor and wondered what you guys think? Are you in or out?

You can apply map pages to literally anything from walls to floors maybe even going all decoupage and layering up a side table or trunk. I’d be inclined to plump for vintage maps so the pages felt less new and a little more lived in and loved. I’ve seen a lot of bathrooms Stateside decorated with maps on the walls – I like the idea for a powder room totally unexpected and über global!

What do you guys think?

I’m off too Pilates I’ve been desk bound for long hours all week had zero exercise and feel achy and a lump. Nice!

Back later with another blog post which I’ve shamelessly neglected to post all week due to the crazy schedule – but two things are a changing. More exercise and two blog posts a day! If I tell you guys I’ve got to do it right! Plus its not like I’m running the country it’s just a business – so today is ‘getting a grip Thursday’! All those things I haven’t been doing I’m doing!

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8 Small changes that make the biggest impact http://www.abigailahern.org/2014/07/30/8-small-changes-make-biggest-impact/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=8-small-changes-make-biggest-impact http://www.abigailahern.org/2014/07/30/8-small-changes-make-biggest-impact/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 05:09:47 +0000 http://www.abigailahern.org/?p=7780 Small changes make just as much impact as large, here are 8 of the best!

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Having spent all last weekend moving the big stuff around like tables and so forth I find it’s actually the small changes that make just as much impact as the large. For example a concrete vase which once looked fab on the mantle has been replaced with a glossy vase (its more glamorous vibe fitting the new room). Or relocating the cactus from the bathroom to the studio suddenly connects my inside space with my outside space beautifully. Simple little things which brings me nicely to todays post – 8 changes that make the biggest impact.

To get a new look you don’t need to throw everything out and start over. Making the smallest changes I find can have the biggest impact here’s some stuff I do time and time again.

1. Add a rug (ideally patterned). I bang on about patterned rugs all the time I know, but they make the biggest impact. Going for a solid hue can suck all the energy out of the room so by adding something with a motif no matter how small is a game changer.

2. Hang pendant lights or chandeliers lower than you normally would over tables. I’ve literally just done this and it’s a game changer rather than the chandelier floating near the top of the ceiling it’s actually become a major accessory in its own right simply because I’ve lowered it over the table about 8 inches!

3. If your room is traditional or conversely modern add one of two things from a different period to add zing. Think of it as you would when you add salt to a dish it brings your room alive! For example I’ve got a rather traditional oil painting of a gent on the wall which I’ve partnered with a zingy graffiti style print. Looks super cool!

4. Paint a wall in a colour that scares you for some high impact visual intrigue. It’s only a wall and you can paint it back in an hour if you hate it! Or fabric a wall, we did our cupboards in about  2 hours and I love!

5. Go thrift hunting and find one of those brass chandeliers that are super cheap then spray it a fun colour. Not white or anything wishy-washy mind it won’t have the same impact – some colour that takes courage!

6. Every room needs an animal in it, real or otherwise. I’ve got paper mache elephants, toucan’s, ceramic dogs, flocked pelicans all over my pad they lighten the mood!

7 Use books as part of your tablescape. I do this all the time, a heap of mags for instance a little candle or posy of flowers on top – simple, beautiful and nailed!

8 Think outside the box when it comes to wallpaper one of my favourite bathrooms of all time was featured in Lonny magazine a while back and consists of sheets of craft paper applied to a wall, as simple as that (see image)!

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Is your home making you cranky? http://www.abigailahern.org/2014/07/29/home-making-cranky/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=home-making-cranky http://www.abigailahern.org/2014/07/29/home-making-cranky/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 04:55:37 +0000 http://www.abigailahern.org/?p=7774 Is your home making your feel unhappy? If so read this checklist on how to create the happiest home on the planet.

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Do any rooms in your pad make you feel unhappy when you walk into them? I’m putting my hands up here as I’ve got two on the top floor. The old school room which we’re about to convert into  a guest bedroom and the junk room which we are converting into a small studio for whenever G or I need some quiet away from the team. He to do finances, me to write my next book. It’s a small room and now that I’m addicted to putting fabric on walls I’m imagining some of them padded with a thick rug a little desk a chair by the fire and that is about it!

When you start transforming any space you can’t pull it together in an instance. I did with my new studio because one I have a warehouse to pull from (lucky me – perk of the job) but two I had planned all the stuff I wasn’t pulling from the store to arrive almost together. That however is not my point. Check out the image above,  a few years ago my downstairs space made me feel beyond cranky I got the basics right but by God I needed so much more. I had just converted to the dark side and didn’t have the confidence I have now. See how different the two spaces look and feel! What is in a space has a profound affect upon our moods, interesting isn’t it?

It’s a fact that the places we inhabit affect our thoughts, feelings and most certainly our moods. I can walk into certain spaces and feel instantly uplifted, creative, relaxed, or I can go somewhere else and feel depressed and on edge. You can see by my cranky image above that there was hardly anything in my old space to make me feel relaxed and cocooned. It felt sterile and dull.

I find it so interesting when you dig deeper into this fascinating subject about  how our surroundings totally affect our mental conditions. Do you have a space that makes you feel instantly happy? If not maybe your pad is missing a few of these elements like mine used too. Here’s how to  make your home the centre of happiness!

Plants and flowers

As crazy as it sounds a vase of flowers on the table or a few plants on the mantle can actually reduce stress, studies have shown this.  Right now I’ve just realised that I’ve got nothing on my desk so I’m whizzing downstairs to go pick some hydrangea from the garden to uplift!

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most transformative things you can do to any room, period! If you have only one light source (the ceiling pendant) I’m reckoning you’re not so happy. Task lights are essential for making a room feel balanced, harmonious and beautifully lit. Think little pockets of glow around the room, any pendant or chandelier casts a super unflattering light so its needs a lot of lighting buddies to make it feel cool.

Take the focus off the TV

If yours is the main focal point then yuk they are ugly as hell  and it’s no wonder you’re reaching for the whisky bottle the minute you walk into your siting room. If the TV is the main focal point distract the eye with another more statement worthy something or other. A huge piece of art, a mirror, a colourful textile – anything to distract from that fluorescent screen!

Add colour

Colour is clever it can totally make you feel happy or sad in an instant. Some hues don’t feel inviting so if your room is making you feel a little sad think about changing up the colour to something relaxing, cocooning, sophisticated and glamorous – dark hues of course. Hello!

Break up solid hues

Solid hues need breaking up so if everything like the sofa, the rug, the walls are all solid colours with no injection of pattern then more chances than not your room will feel super uptight and flat. Mix in patterns to add personality it’s the easiest trick in the decorating book.

Oh and listen rooms will always evolve with this kind of decorating you are really never done but that is the fun part right!

Here is too having the happiest homes on the planet!

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Don’t be afraid of the dark http://www.abigailahern.org/2014/07/28/7761/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=7761 http://www.abigailahern.org/2014/07/28/7761/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 05:11:03 +0000 http://www.abigailahern.org/?p=7761 The coolest ways to use dark colours!

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What a crazy weekend we’ve just had. All house related of course but I feel like I’ve been dragged through a bush backwards. It consisted of moving stuff all over the house. The studio table went outside which looks fab but threw off everything else on there which meant half the pots had to moved. The new table for the studio then altered the whole vibe upstairs, it has a granite top and so feels super luxe and my concrete vases on the mantle just didn’t fit. The new faux pony skin cupboard did the same thing. The rug that was there had to go looked terrible on and on I could go. Luckily I have enough stuff to move things from floor to floor so it was hundreds off trips up and down. Done in!

The best thing we did was paint the second part of the studio black. It is now so darn glamorous I feel I shouldn’t;t be sitting here in my pajamas! I should be wearing a ball gown! I don;t know why people are so scared of black I think its one of the most magical hues out there.

Did you know that if a space faces north and receives little natural night painting it out in a jolly hue or bright white won’t actually solve your problem?  Promise! What does work however is rather than fighting with the problem embrace it. Make the space feel super seductive, sophisticated and glamorous by painting it out in an inky hue.

Why I am I so obsessed?

Good question – when you transform a room with an inky hue it adds oodles of interest. No matter if you pad is highly ornate or a new build dark colours up the anty, no  matter if your room is small or huge!

I’ve pulled together a few of my favourites to show you all the different ways you can go with a dark palette – see slideshow

Add metals

Metals with their shiny luminous surfaces look amazing against a dark hue, particularly I should say if you can go down the gold route. I am a little fixated with gold right now as I keep telling you guys (sorry) , I’ve got gold sconces on black walls, gold heads on mantles, little gold vases on tables it’s a magical combo I reckon!

Add pops of colour

You can go so many different ways with your accent hues I used to add quite a few pops and yet these days I find myself pulling back far more. Looking at my studio right now the dominate pop of colour is green . A giant cactus and a little green velvet chair is just about it.  You don’t need much just a punch to give the space an exclamation mark!

Think outside of the box

How about adding fabric to your walls like I’ve just done and like Kit Kemp has done – see slideshow. I didn’t realise until this weekend just how magical fabric walls with dark colours are!

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The Best of the Week Ending July 26th http://www.abigailahern.org/2014/07/26/best-week-ending-july-26th/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=best-week-ending-july-26th http://www.abigailahern.org/2014/07/26/best-week-ending-july-26th/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 06:51:43 +0000 http://www.abigailahern.org/?p=7756 A round up of the best of AA, highlighting the most popular posts of the week!

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Every Saturday I highlight the best of the blog from the last week. A recap of the most popular posts, so in no particular order here goes:

Eclectic decor done right - Eclectic rooms are the hardest rooms in the world to pull off since nothing matches but it all has to make perfect sense. Here’s how to do it with panache!

Boho up your space with these easy tips - Easy ways to a little boho vibe to your space

The most transformative decorating tricks ever! - 5 game changers that turn rooms from drab to fab!

Walking on the wild side - Bit of faux leopard, snake, lizard or moc croc anyone?  Animal prints are back big time

Everything you need to know when it comes to arranging furniture - The low down on arranging furniture.

4 Decorating Tips to Live By - If you want to elevate your pad to new heights check out  4 of the best decorating tips to live by!

Happy Weekend

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8 ways to grow you business http://www.abigailahern.org/2014/07/25/7747/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=7747 http://www.abigailahern.org/2014/07/25/7747/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:11:26 +0000 http://www.abigailahern.org/?p=7747 Your survived start up (gold star) but now what? How to take you business to the next level!

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It’s a long one just to warn!

You’ve survived start-up (gold star) but now what? How do you take what you’ve got to the next level?  After the first few years of my business I can remember feeling super frustrated and in a quandary about how to push it on further. I knew I didn’t want a lifestyle business as such I wanted a brand but how to make that brand global. A lot of what I’m about to tell you depends on resources obviously but more importantly the amount of time you are prepared to invest in your biz. If the answer to that is a lot read on!

Physical expansion

Often times you will get told that physical expansion is the fastest way to growth and often times it is.  You’ll obviously need to have maintained a consistent bottom line profit in order to think about expanding not forgetting administrative systems and warehousing and management teams all in place and god knows what else. Exhausted already! Plus you’ll need a bottomless pocket – opening stores is not cheap.

If you are not ready for a whole new store consider a concession, you’ll need less financing therefore its less risk. Sort of. We had a concession in West London for a while which I found challenging and as a result have deviated from my original plan of opening a ton of stores around the world to designing instead a large collection of own label products that will get sold around the world via us exhibiting at trade shows. In the early days I wanted stores everywhere after that insightful concession period I’ve changed my mind.

Being a bit (correction a lot) of a control freak I found not having the power I usually have with my store a big hindrance. I couldn’t design the space for example; our area nestled amongst clothes which I felt was an odd juxtaposition and didn’t set the products off so well.  Because I wasn’t based there and our staff weren’t on the team I had no control over what was replaced with what when something got sold.

You won’t know it but when you see a collection of objects in my own store they are in the exact, repeat exact spot. It’s not happenstance its orchestrated.

Having that concession made me review my whole business plan I didn’t want numerous stores everywhere where all I would ever do was go from one to another and freak out about vase placement!

Licensing

This is one of the most exciting things I’ve gotten involved in with our business. Working with a brand such as Debenhams means I get to design twice yearly collections that are showcased in over 140 stores.   I don’t have the headache of manufacturing the pieces myself or checking the quality. You receive upfront monies and royalties and you get to take your brand to a whole other audience, which generates a whole new bundle of cash. Nice! The downside is it’s a bit chicken and egg as big brands won’t partner or approach you unless you ‘re known in your industry.

Align with another business

Get buddy with other business and all the benefits of their customer base – it’s a quick way to success. If you write a blog then maybe guest post, I don’t take guest posts on mine (but lots of other people do). Collaborating with other brands is a great way of getting a load more people knowing about  your brand.

Diversify

The more different strands you have the more successful your business will become I talk from experience here!  Lets say you discover a cool brand in France how about becoming their UK agent (you’ll typically make up 20% from any of the products) and other retailers will have to come via you to buy! I’m making it sound way to easy I realize that and it’s not.  You would be responsible for warehousing, sending out, late deliveries etc. etc.

Run classes, write columns, pen a book diversifying has been an excellent growth strategy for us as it allows us to have multiple streams of income and any streams that dip (and they will) the others always pick up the slack.  In January we’re rolling out our label products, which other retailers will buy into (I’m hoping that will be the case) which is a whole other stream a big one at that!

Target foreign territories

You don’t need to roll out a global expansion bricks and mortar plan just get your brand out there.

The world is your oyster when it comes to selling to other people. Our biggest markets outside of the UK are America and Australia – the two territories actually where I would like to open stores. Send out press releases to those magazines, engage with those communities.

Focus on the Internet

These days  over 30% of our sales come via the Internet, which is huge. I can remember a few years back when it was 3%. Your website is vital to your business. Work out a strategy; make sure the content is relevant and exciting,

Measure the number of people who visit your site and make sure you tag each of your pages with key words depicting what that page is all about so then Google knows what it is looking for.

Put a magnifying glass on your sales

You should know your top 5 sellers off the top of your head and the least 5 sellers. Devote time to understanding your sales,  your business will fail if you don’t. Increasing revenue only happens when you spend time on sales not pontificating about products or getting too bogged down and involved in the minutia.

The people who make money in retail do not necessarily have better products than you its how they get those products to market and how they sell them that makes them money. No sales no business. The best advice we got was this exercise. Work out how much time your staff spends selling and how much time is spent on improving the selling process. Once you’ve worked out how long that time is double it. From next week double the time you spend or your staff spend on sales, you will notice your revenue increase.

Do more of what’s working

Rather than spending time on lots of new ways to grow you business figure out what’s working – it’s the easiest and quickest way to grow your business. Push those best sellers further.  Sounds simplistic I know but if Google Ad words are working or mail shots are working or advertising is working keep doing it.  Just do it more often.

Maintaining a growing business can be a challenge but it’s also I have to say one of the most exciting aspects of my job!

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Boho up your space with these easy tips http://www.abigailahern.org/2014/07/25/boho-space-easy-tips/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=boho-space-easy-tips http://www.abigailahern.org/2014/07/25/boho-space-easy-tips/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 05:18:40 +0000 http://www.abigailahern.org/?p=7738 Easy ways to a little boho vibe to your space

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Maybe it’s me but I like to partner various vibes together so a rustic one think log cabin walls, sheepskin throws or rugs with modernity and glamour. If you go all out glamour or all out boho the look can tend to feel a little bit one dimensional for me. Today I thought we would concentrate on boho.  I love nothing better than playing around with swank and glamour but then offsetting it with a rougher edge. It makes my spaces feel far more interesting. Lets take a room my bedroom for instance (see image above) and break down what I’ve done. I find when you drill into things you can see a pattern emerging which makes decorating so much easier and less scary!

Bigger is better

I’ve supersized things, it’s actually one of the simplest tricks in the decorating book. If you want your room to look grander than it really is play around with scale, especially if it is on the small size.

Opt for occasional tables as opposed to bedside tables even if it’s for only one side! It ups the anty and bedside tables are always so darn bedside looking! I’ve also hung a chandelier that is way too big for the room (who cares about that) in the centre. Next check out that super large oil painting that looks like Frances Bacon on the opposite wall. Nailed!

Overdose on Texture

I say this a lot but you can never over do it when it comes to texture. I’ve got a riot of different materials intermingling, wood, wool, dried mud (chandelier is crafted from it), velvet (bedside table is wrapped in it) leather (chair) sheepskins, shiny gold door handles it’s a riot but it doesn’t feel like a riot its supremely calming. My wooden wall gives the room the boho edge as does the softly woven woollen throw but then everything else its a bit more glam.

Add Flowers

I change the flowers with the seasons so the blossom has been replaced with delph and ferns and it keeps constantly evolving. I’m a big fan of boho country-style flowers. Flowers to me should look and feel like they’ve picked from the garden or a meadow. Simple sweet arrangements every time!

Keep the palette muted

Although I am a big lover of colour you will see from my space that in this room its pretty much muted.  Nothing pops it feels supremely calming and relaxing, snuggly and squishy. This is the essence of boho interiors. Oh and add the two M’s into the bed every night and its even squisher!

Back later with the business column this afternoon we’re talking ways in which you can grow you business. Before I go take a look at this:

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