Abigail Ahern shares the secret to curating small decor items like an interior designer

This smart tip will ensure your scheme is more three-dimensional – and instantly more stylish

Abigail Ahern's small pieces tip for tables and surfaces
(Image credit: Future)

Interior designer Abigail Ahern has built a reputation upon statement pieces and maximalist design choices. However, she has revealed her secret to using small, understated objects to create an elevated display on your dining table, coffee table and beyond. 

Sharing her modern decorating ideas via Instagram, Abigail revealed how to transform your surface, whether that is your coffee table, mantelpiece, or shelf – by introducing simple decor into your scheme. ‘I often talk about the game-changing power of large pieces, but little pieces are just as important,’ she says. 

‘There are some simple little tricks that you can do to elevate your surfaces.’

Blue painted room by Abigail Ahern

(Image credit: Little Greene)

How to curate small decor items

‘There are so many easy little tricks that you can use to elevate surfaces. If you reduce a color palette – they are all harmonious, and they all work. You can mix up textural things and play a little bit with height – then you’ve totally nailed it,’ Abigail explains during a demonstration. 

Using the example of a coffee table in her home, the designer places small succulents and a diffuser on her book – to accentuate the space and ensure the space looks more rounded. 

‘On a coffee table, books are such a lovely addition. I have two books, but they look flat on their own,’ she shares in the demonstration. 

Abigail Ahern's small pieces tip for tables and surfaces

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovati)

'The minute you take these beautiful little succulents, and you pop it on there [on top of the book], it literally takes it to another level. Then I have this diffuser. That goes on there too. It’s more three-dimensional, it’s more intriguing to the eye, and you’ve nailed it.’

Alongside the succulents and diffuser, Abigail shared another modern dining room idea that will elevate your space using small pieces. 

‘Another sweet scenario: this is one of our paper mache bowls. I have filled it with popery and put it on here, and it looks beautiful. I’m not quite finished, though.'

'Then, I took a textual drinking glass and popped in these autumnal branches (Senecio sunset)... It will look beautiful on a Christmas table or a thanksgiving table,’ she says. 

Abigail Ahern's small pieces tip for tables and surfaces

(Image credit: Future / Matthew Williams)

If you’re following Abigail’s lead, she recommends using three autumnal branches as you should ‘generally work with odd numbers.’

‘It just takes it to another level,’ she adds. 

 Interior design ideas can be tricky to translate into a home, however, Abigail Ahern's tip should help transform your small items from clutter to a true style statement. 

Megan Slack

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team.

Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US whilst studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site.

Megan currently lives in London, where she relocated from her hometown in Yorkshire. In her home, she experiments with interior design trends and draws inspiration from the home decor ideas she observes in her everyday work life. Her favorite pieces include her antique typewriter and her expansive collection of houseplants. When she isn’t writing, she is browsing London’s coffee shops and bookstores to add to her ever-growing library, taking over the open shelving in her apartment.