Home' D Fine Redland Lifestyle Magazine : April 2010 dfine Contents 26 d'fine magazine April 20, 2010
Can DIY really be glamorous? Abigail Ahern,
author of A Girl's Guide to Decorating
(Quadrille), thinks so.
"I find it really addictive," she laughs. "You can
create a style that never goes out of date,because
it's personal. Doing it yourself means it looks
lived-in and fun."
With necessity being the mother of invention
Ahern, a London-based stylist and interior
designer, took up a screwdriver and hammer
after buying a new house and realising she didn't
have the budget for expensive decor.
"I'd bought a house that needed everything
done to it -- rewiring, replumbing and heating - so
I ended up with no money for the fun stuff, " she
Her lack of cash meant she came up with some
cut-price ways to turn her house into a home
worthy of an interiors magazine.
"Because I didn't have much money, I had to be
creative, " she says. "I put bath taps on my
bathroom sink as they looked much bigger and
bespoke, like someone had designed them for
"I ripped the fabric off an old lamp and sat the
bulb in the lovely wire bones. And I bulldog-
clipped a length of fabulous wallpaper to a feature
wall. A bamboo rod at the bottom stopped it
curling up and you can just change the paper or
move it around when you fancy a change."
Ahern also spray-painted bland tables bright
pink, stacked a makeshift library of interesting
books around her desk, hunted down quirky
table lamps at flea markets and changed the
handles on boring bedside cupboard doors.
A stylist and co-founder of design consultancy
Go from drab to fab without splashing cash, writes Joanna Bounds.
Home, Sara Silm, says a cut-price decorating tip is
to hunt down a framed picture at an op shop and
transform it with spray paint. "Buy a can of paint
from any DIY shop, take the picture apart, spray
the frame then put in your own photo," she says.
"If you use black or white gloss, it just looks
And, Ahern says, don't forget a recession-
friendly renovation can take place anywhere.
"I once took some old furniture to a car
resprayers and had them paint it Ford Mondeo
red -- it looked beautiful, like it had been
lacquered, " she says.
"They probably thought I was mad - but then I
saw a similar table in [department store] Liberty
for $6000. It's all about revamping and
Home beautiful on a budget
Practise various interior styling techniques on
your mantelpiece: "It's the perfect place to play
out balancing acts of symmetry and asymmetry,
using pewter, silver and metallics," says stylist
Know that fabric needn't be expensive."Annual
clearances usually happen at the end of the
financial year, " says Sara Silm."Mokum has twice-
yearly clearances at Alexandria town hall. And
there's a great fabric shop on Burnt Street in
Seaforth, which has quality bolts of fabric for
about $20 a metre."
Think of interesting storage ideas: "You can
pick up an old ladder, the type you can lean
against a wall, for $10. Then use it to hang towels
in your bathroom, or scarves and necklaces in
your bedroom,"Silm says.
Distract the eye: "Hang a line of Chinese
celebration lanterns down your hallway and your
eye will be drawn to the lanterns instead of a wall
that might need repainting,"David Page says.
A Girl's Guide to Decorating
By Abigail Ahern
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