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May 30, 2022 —

My Happy Space: Abi Dare

Home is where the heart is, and in our ‘My Happy Space’ series, we’re celebrating those areas of our homes that make us feel calm and content. Stylist, photographer and blogger behind These Four Walls,  Abi Dare tells us why her scandi-inspired, minimalist living room is the space that offers her most sanctuary…
Shelley Welti - online content editor at 91 Magazine - in front of wall mural
Shelley Welti
91 Magazine online content editor,
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“I have a few favourite corners, but the living room is my true happy place,” she explains. “It’s the first room my husband Chris and I entered when we viewed the house, and the one that made us fall in love with it. It’s also the only room that retains any original Victorian features, but unlike so many period spaces it feels airy and bright.”

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Grey scand-inspired sofa inside the minimalist home of Abi Dare, of These Four Walls Blog

Decorated with delicate, muted tones of pale grey, beige and white, the living space is soothing yet stylish, with black accents giving the space further depth and structure. The calming palette was more than a simple style choice for Abi, who needs her space to be extra relaxing, for a very good reason: “I’ve always been drawn to neutral colours, and for an unusual reason. I have a condition called synaesthesia, which is when one sense merges with another rather than being experienced separately. In my case, it means I see each letter, number and day of the week as a different hue, and as a result my mind is constantly buzzing with colour. Surrounding myself with muted tones is a much-needed antidote to that! It’s also why the books are displayed as they are, with the different colours of the spines facing inwards.”

“Having such a calm, clutter-free space is really important to me. It helps me relax, clear my mind, and step away from whatever stresses and anxieties I’m facing at any given time. In a way it feels like my anchor – a refuge from the outside world, where I can return whenever I need.”

Minimal neutral living room inside the minimalist home of Abi Dare, of These Four Walls Blog
inside the minimalist home of Abi Dare, of These Four Walls Blog

Moving into their Victorian home in Bristol eight years ago, Abi and Chris have taken their time to carefully curate their space, getting a feel for how they use it, how the light shifts throughout the day, and also ensuring that while minimal and serene, their living room is cosy, thanks to a mix of textures (including linen, wool, natural oak, smooth marble, matt stoneware and shiny chrome), adding interest and warmth.

Abi has added further personal touches to the living room with black and white photos from their travels, and a varied range of ceramics and candleholders, collected over the years. She also commissioned a watercolour and ink painting from one of her favourite artists, which now hangs over the sofa.

Cosy minimal living room styling inside the minimalist home of Abi Dare, of These Four Walls Blog
Round black mirror and photos inside the minimalist home of Abi Dare, of These Four Walls Blog

One extra-special piece that brings comfort is the iconic mid-century ‘Diamond’ chair, (designed by Harry Bertoia in the 1950s)  which takes pride of place in the window. “I bought it with some inheritance from my much-missed grandmother, and it’s one of the items that brings me joy on a daily basis,” Abi smiles.

The blogger, stylist and photographer says that her living room makes her feel ‘calm’ and ‘at home’ and uses the space daily. “We use the space every day, whether it’s for morning coffee, a relaxing half hour of reading at lunchtime, a lazy Sunday afternoon on the sofa or an evening watching films,” Abi says. “It’s definitely the heart of our home, and also where we tend to gather when we have friends and family over to visit. Even the cat likes hanging out there!”

Scandi minimal living room inside the minimalist home of Abi Dare, of These Four Walls Blog
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Her top tip for creating your own happy space within your home? Ensure it’s what you want and need. “Try not to listen too closely to other people’s opinions or be driven by trends. It’s your space, and all that really matters is what you like and what makes you feel happy and comfortable. The most beautiful and welcoming homes are always the ones that tell the stories and reflect the personalities of the people who live in them.”

HOME COMFORTS

What is your favourite…

… book?

I could name so many here, but the one I come back to time and time again is The House of The Spirits by Isabel Allende. It’s haunting, absorbing, beautifully written and utterly magical.

…. comfort food?

My dad’s homemade bread, toasted and served with nothing other than lashings of butter. My parents moved closer to us a year ago, so now I have a ready supply!

… craft/ activity?

I started weaving during lockdown and I find it very relaxing. There’s something quite meditative about it, and I’m really enjoying getting stuck into something creative just for the sheer joy of it, with no deadlines or client pressure.

… loungewear/ pyjama brand?

I’ve recently discovered the cotton jumpsuit range from Secret Linen Store. They gave me one to try and it truly is the most comfortable thing I’ve ever worn!

… candle scent?

I use different scents according to my mood and the season, but I’m always drawn to fresh, green scents that make me think of forests, mountains and water.

… TV series?

At the moment, Derry Girls. It’s such a wonderful mix of humour and poignant storytelling. And the music takes me straight back to my 90s teenage years!

See more from Abi on Instagram and on her blog.

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