60 seconds with the designer: Louise Keane’s Top Tips + Exclusive Sketches!

Louise Keane is our latest interior design crush – not only does she design and style at Amalfi White Living, she also does the most beautiful interiors/home sketches… Louise kindly sketched some exclusively for Courage & Dash, which you will find scattered through this post.

Thankfully, Louise managed to find some time from a busy schedule to chat with us. Ready for some super design tips? Here we go!

1. Open plan or cosy nooks?

What a tough question to start with – can I have both please?! The popularity of open plan is obvious – we all love homes that feel spacious and airy and it’s definitely more suited to the way we tend to live these days. But I think the human instinct to nest definitely comes into the mix when you have a cosy window seat or a smaller, more inviting space to snuggle into. It really all comes down to the space that you have to work with and what works best for it and how you want to live in that space.

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Sketch based on design by Restoration Hardware

2. Vintage or modern? Or both?

Definitely both in this case. (Courage & Dash: You have to choose at some point, Louise!! Haha.) I think the best designs usually happen when there’s an artful mix of styles – it definitely adds character and depth to a space.

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Examples of Louise’s work in Edinburgh (Image: Amalfi White Living)

3. What are some ways to style a rented bedroom if you can’t paint walls, etc.?

I think there are lots of ways to add character and style even if you’re just renting. You can prop mirrors or art up against the wall – this can look great especially if you use larger pieces. And there are now sticky pads available so you can hang art or photos (maybe not heavy mirrors!) on your wall without damaging the surface.

Adding rugs, throws and cushions for colour and texture will always inject your personality and style into a space. If you’re desperate to brighten up plain walls, there are great= ranges of wall decals available now – basically repositionable stickers which can add a touch of fun or whimsy, especially to a child’s room. Finally if you have a boring, white bathroom, there are great shower curtains available that can become a real feature and inject personality and colour.

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4. Are ‘posh’ paints worth it?

As an interior designer, colour is obviously important to me, and I do find that a lot of the ‘posh’ brands offer an amazing range of colours with a subtlety and depth of colour that you might not find in cheaper paints. As to the quality – I’d always ask a good painter / decorator as they work with paint every day and can advise you on the technical side of things with different brands depending on where and how you want to use them.

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5. Most inspirational city?

Easy! Has to be New York for me. I hope that’s not too clichéd an answer but I just find myself filling notebook after notebook with ideas and taking hundreds of inspirational photos when I’m there. I’m always buzzing for weeks after I visit.

6. Power shower or rainforest shower?

Ooh it has to be rainforest. Much more soothing and romantic!

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7. Which is your favourite part of the UK?

Another really tough question… I live in Scotland which is so beautiful but I also have a really special place in my heart for Cornwall. There’s just something about it – emerald coves, wild flowers, ancient stone houses, winding lanes. Another place where I feel truly inspired.

8. How do you turn inspiration into a cohesive design idea?

This is something I learned when I started retraining as an interior designer a few years ago and there is quite a distinct process which really helps to translate inspiration into a workable design idea. The methodology is based around writing a ‘Design Statement’ about what you want to create and designing a ‘Concept Board’ which pulls together visual references that evoke the look and feeling you want in that space. You put these together with a really detailed written analysis of what your client wants – practically and aesthetically – and working through those elements you turn your inspiration into a workable design.

If you’re in the UK I’d really recommend KLC where I trained where you can learn more about this methodology on one of their short courses or their diploma if you’re really serious! I learned a lot when I started retraining as a designer but this was one of the most powerful things that I discovered.

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9. What is an upcoming trend to incorporate into a room?

I’m not a fan of trends per se as I am more interested in producing an interior that’s timeless. I love when I open an old magazine or even see a mid-century design and realise that it still looks as fresh and modern today. That for me is more important than a trend which may look great now but which could look really dated in a few years.

10. Your favourite best kept secret shop?

One of my favourite interior brands is well known in the US but it’s pretty much a best kept secret here in the UK as it doesn’t have any branches here. It’s called Restoration Hardware and I’ve just discovered that one of the people who designs for them – Timothy Oulton – has his own UK website so it’s well worth checking out. His lighting range in particular is stunning.

Thank you so much Louise for spending time with us and for sharing your beautiful sketches!

For more of Louise Keane’s design work and thoughts, visit:

Amalfi White Living
http://amalfiwhiteliving.com/

 

Images: Louise Keane

 

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60 seconds with… Abigail Ahern

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What is with the weather?? I definitely just about felt comfortable in woolly tights today… Is it because it’s Wimbledon??

We won’t go into any commentary about the sports going on, because it will only end in tears. Too much emotion involved! Needless to say, we are definitely enjoying the start of the summer sporting season, which is only serving to distract us from the blog! Bad things.

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Today we are launching another series to go with the Curious Shop series we already run. It’s a 60 second consultation with a designer or stylist – sounds cool? It is! We’ve lined up some exciting people for you, so look out for the posts. We can’t promise it will be the most life-changing consultation you will ever have with a designer/stylist, because, well… we’ve come up with the questions and you know we are a bit silly! Please, please, please do send us your questions if you have any, and we will try to include them in our next 60 seconds with…

Ready?

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We are so privileged to have Abigail Ahern joining us today. Most of you will know that Abigail is a famous author, TV presenter, business owner, designer… yes, Abigail Ahern is proof that you can do it all (if you are as talented and endearing as she is!). Cited as a “style spotter extraordinaire” by The Times newspaper, Abigail is well-known for her interior design work, including a 42,000 sq ft Grand Spa for the Ritz Carlton in Palm Beach, Florida. We know!

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Abigail also has a store in London, an interiors emporium you could easily lose yourself in. When she isn’t busy doing all that, she also runs and teaches at an international design school, globe-hopping across NYC, Melbourne, Sydney, and London. We are so grateful Abigail kindly took the time to hang out with us, but we only got 60 seconds in her busy schedule, so ready, steady, go!

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What do you think of open plan style?

I like open plan rooms as long as they are cosy and snug and not bare and minimal.

Which do you prefer, vintage or modern?

Impossible to choose, but if I really had to, probably vintage would slightly win out.

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What are some ways to style a rented bedroom if you can’t paint walls, etc.?

If you’re renting, you can totally lift rooms out of the park with accessories – think about pieces that are tactile and make you want to touch them. Cushions, rugs, candles, art –  I call them the 5 minute face lifts of the decorating world. If you can paint your walls, that’s even better – I would obviously recommend going dark but most importantly  choose colours that you love!

Are ‘posh’ paints worth it?

‘Posh paints’ are so worth it. For the simple reasons they are mostly made from pigments of the earth – rock, clay, chalk – so they immediately have more depth and resonance. You don’t get the same effect with cheaper paints, as they are all made from synthetics.

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Most inspirational city?

NYC

Power shower or rainforest shower?

Power shower! I need to kick start the day.

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Which is your favourite part of the UK?

London

What is the best alternative to wallpaper (if you want the detail/pattern but not the hassle of hanging the paper/removing it, or if you can’t because you rent)?

My sister hangs wallpaper from bulldog clips and one can also paper big panels of MDF in some of the coolest patterns, so I would go that route. It’s not that hassle-y to hang paper these days and if you want that effect of pattern and texture nothing quite beats it!

What is one upcoming trend?

I totally and utterly ignore trends. In interiors especially, trends are a dangerous territory – as soon as something is in, it’s out. I follow my instinct and only my instinct. It takes confidence, but the more you do it, the more confident you get.

Your favourite best kept secret shop?

Santa Maria Novella in Redchurch Street! It sells the most amazing potpourri, incense, and candles on the planet.

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Thanks so much for your time!

Visit Abigail Ahern at:

http://www.abigailahern.com

137 Upper Street

Islington, London N1 1QP

Read her books:

Decorating with Style

A Girl’s Guide to Decorating (both by Quadrille Publishing Ltd)

 

All images courtesy of Abigail Ahern