My design London: Abigail Ahern

Tastemaker Abigail Ahern has an eye for dramatic interior design and a penchant for moody glamour. She takes us on a tour of her favourite shops, haunts and secret escapes in the city...
Designer, author and retailer Abigail Ahern has a reputation for her uncompromising take on interiors, which was first spotted by the New York Times when she worked in America. She opened her first shop in London in 2003 and recently launched her own-label collection of ceramics, furniture, lighting and faux plants.

Here, she reveals why her favourite colours are inky and moody, why she loves the Big Green Egg cooker and where to find a cheap but show-stopping Chesterfield sofa.

My Home
 
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Ahern in her Victorian home in Dalston

I live in a Victorian townhouse in Dalston. There’s me, my husband Graham and our two dogs, Mungo and Maud, otherwise known as the two Ms. We’ve been here nearly 14 years. When we bought it, it was  utterly run down. We gutted the whole place, extended and put in a double-height glass wall at the back looking out over the garden. It’s taken ages, but I love everything about it now.
 
My Style  

My style is eclectic, moody and glamorous but still incredibly laid-back. I gravitate towards inky, moody colour palettes. My house is painted top to bottom in my own paint range — I spent a year mixing and fiddling around with the palette until I achieved dark perfection. My large open-plan downstairs space is Madison Grey, which is the most perfect bottom-of-the-lake grey-green hue. My home office studio space is full-on noir in Hudson Black, the hallways throughout are Mulberry, a sort of bruised berry-red colour, the bathroom is a really sophisticated olive green called Wooster, and the bedroom is in Crosby, which is a soothing soft brown with rosy pink undertones.

My favourite thing
 
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Ahern blew the furniture budget on a concrete chair by Willy Guhl

My favourite piece is a sculptural Willy Guhl concrete chair that I bought 13 years ago.

I remember my husband being furious. We were renovating the house at the time and we had nowhere to sit. We needed to buy something comfy, but instead I blew the whole budget on this one concrete chair.

We had nothing else to sit on for a year. I don’t think he’ll ever let me forget it. But I love it.

I can’t live without 

My daily cup of coffee, which I drink sitting in the morning sun out of sweet little Vietnamese hand thrown cups that I picked up from Columbia Road.

My secret shop in London  
 
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Criterion Auctioneers is ideal for finding Chesterfield sofas

Criterion Auctioneers in Essex Road, N1. It’s dusty and can be hit and miss, but I’ve found the most incredible pieces there, including a huge oil painting that looks like a Francis Bacon, beautiful tribal-looking rugs for less than £100 and Chesterfield sofas, which they regularly have. 
 
Most talented new designer 
 
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Hannah Lawrence's wood-fired pottery is one of Ahern's design favourites

I’m always on the look-out for new talent. I love Hannah Lawrence, who makes wood-fired pottery. Hannah takes influence from and is inspired by the Japanese concept of wabi sabi (imperfection) and all her pieces are amazing.  
 
Secret Escape  
 
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Ahern goes to tiny wine bar, Pinch, in Hackney

Pinch at 51a Greenwood Road, E8. It’s Hackney’s smallest wine bar and my secret escape (020 7249 9909; pinchhackney.co.uk). It sells the most incredible natural wines and the owner, Venus, is lovely. It’s somewhere I always potter out to when I need to recalibrate.

Money no object?
 
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The Hermit's Cabin has just enough room for one

If I could splurge, it would definitely be a Hermit’s Cabin designed by Swedish architect Mats Theselius so I could get away from it all (arvesund.com/en/eremitens_koja_en/). They’re constructed from reclaimed barn timbers and come fully furnished. They’re tiny, with only room for one. Maybe that’s the appeal? 

Favourite restaurant  
 
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The Street Feast food market in Dalston is "a magical place"

Street Feast is my favourite haunt. It’s a night market in Dalston that runs through the summer. The food and drink is wonderful, from amazing Korean burritos and crispy fried chicken to a gin store and a Tequila Treehouse. Even though it’s super urban in the heart of Dalston, as the light fades and the fires get lit, it turns magical. And I can take the two Ms.
 
Lazy London Sunday  
 
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A late lunch outside using a Big Green Egg cooker

I’m an early riser, so even for a lazy Sunday I’ll be up at 6.30am for an outdoor swim at my local lido. Then maybe a stroll with the dogs along Regent’s Canal, and breakfast at the Towpath Café (36 De Beauvoir Crescent, Hackney; 020 7254 7606). My route back takes me via Columbia Road for fresh flowers. Then a late lunch that I’ll cook on the Big Green Egg cooker in our garden kitchen. Simple, but I love it.

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