Dark side of the room

Abigail Ahern’s new range for Debenhams blends quirky animal life with darker tones. It isn’t what you’d call bright and breezy, says Trish Lorenz

High-street fashion retailers have seen the benefit of collaborations with big-name designers for some time: H&M’s Marni collection caused a stir among fashionistas  last year and this autumn’s  upcoming Isabel Marant collection for the store is likely to do the same. Now homeware brands are beginning to take a similar approach and  the pick of this year’s interiors  collaborations is Abigail Ahern’s  collection for Debenham’s.

Ahern is one of Britain’s best- known stylists and her Debenham’s range, which features 35 pieces, launches in stores and online from Sunday. Her idiosyncratic style is clearly in evidence with pieces including a hare table lamp and a wall-mounted rhino head sitting alongside mirrors, cushions and candelabra.

Ahern describes her approach to interiors as “traditional but twisted” and her pieces combine luxurious finishes with tongue-in-cheek  touches. Dark colours play a big role too. “I have an 80/20 rule; 80 per cent of objects are beautiful,  sophisticated and stylish; 20 per cent are quirky and fun,” says Ahern. “If everything is perfectly co-ordinated it can feel a bit uptight.”

“People think dark colours will feel depressing but the reverse is true; dark colours elevate any room,” she says. “They feel much more sophisticated and more glamorous than white and once you make a move to the dark side, you’ll never go back. I started with just one alcove in a dark grey and now dark shades are all over the house, it’s so transformative.”