The fine line between gimmicky and cool

Today and tomorrow is DESIGN SCHOOL DAY. Opening the doors of my pad and yabbering about all things interiors from how to create the perfectly imperfect room, to breaking rules, to finishing touches, to more bang for you buck. Bored yet? Apologises focus Abi, focus!

Yesterday I was asked on the blog the difference between making somewhere look funky, edgy cool and making somewhere look gimmicky. That fine line we  often walk as we want our homes to look and feel amazing but not silly. There are tricks (I yabber about them in the classes all the time).  Here goes:

Number One: Think percentages! 70 even 80 % of stuff should be harmonious, beautifully co-ordinated blah blah blah. BUT then the remaining 20 or 30 per cent should knock it out of the park. So here is where your kitsch gimmicky finds come in, or something ugly that doesn’t quite fit that throws the interior off. Could be an odd painting, a funny oddball chair, a gnome, a silver pig (whoops ticking all of those boxes maybe I’ve got slightly more than the 30% that’s odd)! Its fundamental to throw off a space with stuff like this otherwise it will feel too done, to just so.

Number Two: Restrict the colour palette – do that and you will find it way easier to add in more odd things, they will blend in more easily and not look or feel so whacky. Everybody thinks I am the hugest lover of colour, I AM but when you come here you will see just how restricted it is, makes mixing way easier and it makes mixing gimmicky stuff SO much easier!

Number Three: Mess it up – like my hair which never ever ever (please one day God) looks perfectly groomed, and perfected,  interiors need to look   a little messy, a little off.   The reason,  we don’t want all the focus to go on the odd ball finds we want  to balance it out with other odd compononets. Making sense? Its a very different way of designing, we are ditching convention big time but stay with me as the effects are so transformative you will love me for it!  So hang a chandelier off centre and too low, put something to big like a lamp on a table too small. Angle a table in a slightly askew fashion – we are creating focal points to tantalise as we don’t just want  one focal point, we  want many.  We are tricking the eye so it doesn’t quite know where to look, and that is when magic starts happening, so senses are so stimulated and excited and before you know it your heart starts pounding faster and harder. You know that feeling you get when you bump into an old boyfriend or girlfriend or suddenly here from them and you can barely breath. That is the effect I am after with interiors – heart skipping, pulse raising, that tingling feeling of excitement . Am I overdoing it, sense that I am, but you get my point right?

So below an incredibly beautiful interior and then on the left of the image a detail of it. You will see some odd accessory on the table, a funny old picture that throws it off a bit. You can go more extreme I have,   when you restrict the colour palette you can almost add as many odd ball things as you want and it won’t even feel like it. Clever hey!

Gotta run, (I mean not literally did that yesterday I was so done in that I feel asleep at 9pm),  instead I have to run after the two M’s. Mungo and Maud have crazy hours (generally about twice a day sometimes 20 times a day)! This involves tearing around the house chasing each other at break neck speed, messing up all the rugs, knocking stuff over  and generally causing a mess. And they’ve just started.

18 thoughts on “The fine line between gimmicky and cool

  1. Thank you SO much Abigail, that is really precious
    gilt-edged advice, I am goingto print it off and make it my holy grail – thanks again 🙂

  2. This really does sum up your house and your style, I am fortunate enough to have seen it for myself at one of your fab design classes: It is by far the most beautiful and exciting interior I have ever seen, everyone walked from room to room, mouths wide open in amazement, trying to take it all in. Loved it, lucky lucky people that get to visit you today and tomorrow 🙂

  3. This is maybe random, but am I remembering correctly that you posted some faux-tin tile wallpaper within the past few weeks? It was lovely, cream and antique-y, but I came back to find the link and can’t find the post anywhere in your archives.

    • I did its on my facebook page, Rocket st George sell it – if you click on their new section and you will see the various tile wallpaper options

  4. I’ve been reading all your archive blogs and making lots of notes for decorating my own place. I went into a couple of books stores in Canberra (Australia) to purchase ‘A girl’s guide to decorating, but they don’t have it in store so will just have to order it online. I hate having to wait 😦 Thank you for for blogging. Love your work.

      • I promise it wasn’t in any way meant to sound rude. So if it came across that way I totally apologise, that certainly wasn’t the intention. Your reply was quite short and to the point, so I was trying (for once) to reply in a similar manner and not to waffle and ramble back with an answer. I guess I was trying to be a little more proffessional than normal, wasn’t intended as rude honestly

  5. thankyou so much.. After decades of reading, and watching everything on interior design, you have finally steered me in the right direction with your simple and easy to understand advice. Love your work.

  6. I love this advice, and your book too. I followed some of your book’s advice in our loft, and we’re all just so much happier every day when we come home. Thanks!

    • You don’t know how happy that makes me, thanks for sharing. Especially as I am in the throws of the next book with looming deadlines and loads to write

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