Abigail Owens reveals the secrets of a house that’s welcoming for all generations

Abigail Owens grew up loving her mother’s interior design work, so was pretty much destined to join her in Carolyn Parker Interior Design as soon as she was old enough to train and practise. We asked designer Abigail to show us around a recent new-build project, where she has created an interior that feels cosy in spite of its large footprint, is family friendly and chic…

This room looks comfortable and smart. Can you give us some advice on creating this effect for a living space?

“I think darker fabrics are a good option if you want to create a feeling of opulence without feeling anxious about sticky fingers coming near the furnishings. Scatter cushions are an affordable way of bringing quality fabrics and detail to a room and can give it a fresh feel easily. Lighting is also really important: if you have overhead lights, think about putting them on dimmers to give a softer glow and use low level lighting like table lamps with darker shades to make the room feel more calm and cosy.”

 

Great hallway! What are the secrets of making a hall look special?

“Adding artwork plus the odd quirky object you have found on your travels or in a market are good ways to make a hall more interesting. No matter how small, hallways are a place into which you can put some of your personality and give your guests an idea of your style.”

Why did you choose to keep this living and dining space neutral – and how did you ensure it would still be interesting?

“The client wanted to keep it light and airy with accent colours – and what the picture doesn’t show is that in the other direction there is a kitchen with a bright pink island unit. If you keep the finishes natural – like the pale limestone and natural oak – then you can be bolder in other places.

I love to fill houses with fresh flowers and you can really do that in a space like this throughout the seasons. I also think it’s an opportunity to have some bright glass and stemware to make your table pop when you are entertaining friends.”

We love this glamorous bed. Can you tell us a little about it?

“This was a tricky space with windows either side of the bed that weren’t in arm’s reach so I decided to fill the space up to the openings with an upholstered headboard with floating drawers to keep a novel, rest a glass of water and so on. At the end of the bed there is a cabinet, which holds a plasma TV so it’s the height of luxury. All the carpentry is bespoke, designed by me along with Bernard Hobson in American black walnut, one of my favourite timbers. The fabrics are a combination of our own cashmere collection and embroidered silks from Zimmer & Rohde, one of my favourite fabric houses.

This is a beautiful bathroom. Would you share some advice on choosing and positioning a freestanding bath?

‘If there isn’t the space then don’t try to squeeze one in – but if you have the room then it needs to be big. A backdrop in a feature tile anchors the space, as these baths can look a bit stark standing there alone. Choose an area in your room which isn’t near the door or the loo, and if you have a view outside where you can let your mind wander then all the better – just make sure the neighbours can’t see you.’

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Sarah Warwick, Guest Editor

View all posts by Sarah Warwick, Guest Editor