Renting? It can still be your home…


We forgot to tell you that we made a tiny appearance on the Laura Ashley blog here! We joined two other bloggers to talk about what makes a house a home, especially if you (like us) are renting your space. Snippets below, click on the link here for the full post. Thanks for having us, Laura Ashley Blog!

1. Tell us a little bit about Courage & Dash:

Courage & Dash is an interiors+lifestyle blog with a focus on setting up home in a rental property. More people than ever before now rent, and with a new wave of home‑grown businesses and online resources, it’s easier than before to put one’s stamp on one’s residence, whatever the state it came in.

I’ve been living in rented flats in London since I moved out of home (that’s about 10 years now!) and have had various experiences with landlords and flats that were, with hindsight, honestly horrific, so I thought how about I find retailers, designer‑makers, stylists, interior experts, etc. to share some inspiration. I love small‑medium British businesses, and independent designers ‑ there’s so much talent out there ‑ and I love looking at beautiful things, and the blog seemed a logical conclusion.

2. How can interiors help you feel more at home?

Interiors make all the difference in the world! We had to have a cracked wall fixed because water was seeping in, so removed all our wall hangings while our landlady sorted it out ‑ the first time I saw the wall without the hangings, I thought “this place feels so unloved.” It suddenly felt like a flat that hadn’t been moved into, from being our cosy living room. Having rooms look and feel the way you want helps you feel settled, even if you don’t own the place. It can turn a room into a haven. And it doesn’t have to be big things like wallpaper/paint/furniture ‑ it’s the little things like lighting, throws, cushions that make all the difference, in my view. I know some people that take soft furnishings with them on holiday to ‘home‑ify’ their hotel room ‑ I’m not so extreme!


3. What’s your must have item from laura ashley to create a homely atmosphere?

I’m really loving the Grayson Horse Table Lamp for creating some low level cosy lighting when the winter nights set in, and definitely the Elsham chunky knit blanket as the weather starts getting cooler.

4. To you, what makes a house a home?

At the risk of sounding sentimental, home to me is a house full of memories, so it’s really important to have your favourite items that capture the relationships and experiences that have made you who you are. Things that tell your story really transform a room/building into a living space. But more broadly, as long as it’s a place you can relax in, it’s your home.


Get more inspiration at the Laura Ashley blog:


Images via Laura Ashley


60 seconds with… Abigail Ahern


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.


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…


Abi colour 1

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!


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!


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.


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.


Most inspirational city?


Power shower or rainforest shower?

Power shower! I need to kick start the day.


Which is your favourite part of the UK?


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:

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