A Synesthete’s Home Is Minimal and Muted for a Very Specific Reason

published May 21, 2019

A Synesthete’s Home Is Minimal and Muted for a Very Specific Reason

published May 21, 2019
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Name: Abi Dare
Location: Horfield, Bristol
Size: 1000 square feet
Years Lived In: 4 years, owned

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Minimalism isn’t exactly a new design concept these days, but there’s a really valid reason why stylist and blogger Abi Dare is drawn to neutral colors. “I have a condition called synaesthesia, which is when one sense merges with another rather than being experienced separately,” Abi says. “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 color. Surrounding myself with muted tones such as gray, white, and beige is a much-needed antidote to that!”

She currently lives in a terrace Victorian house in Bristol with her husband Chris and their Siamese-cross rescue cat Loki. Having come from a career in travel journalism, Abi now runs the award winning These Four Walls blog, where she showcases her love of simple design, calming colors, and relaxed living, which is very much reflected in her home full of whites and neutrals colors.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I tend to describe it as “soft minimalism”–pared-back and clutter-free, but also cozy and inviting. I love to incorporate contemporary and mid-century design while also making the most of the house’s Victorian features, and I like to keep rooms as light and airy as possible.

Inspiration: I get a lot of inspiration from Pinterest, Instagram, and other interiors blogs, and from design magazines like Enki, RUM and My Residence. I also find a lot of ideas when I travel—design which has a sense of place, and which mixes minimalism with local influences, always inspires me.

Favorite Element: The pair of vintage 1970s Bertoia chairs in our dining room, which were absolute bargains at a flea market. They were the first thing I bought for that room, and I ended up creating the whole scheme around them!

Also, my collection of artwork and prints, which I’ve built up over time. They all mean something to me, and some of the artists are friends of mine. Others were presents from my husband, who tracked down artists whose work he’d seen me admire in cafes or galleries.

Biggest Challenge: Wonky walls and floors! I don’t think there’s a straight line anywhere in the house… in fact the whole property is wedge-shaped as it’s a terrace and sits just where the street curves, so the back is wider than the front!

What Friends Say: “Where’s all your stuff?” and “Why have you turned all your books around the wrong way?” We have lots of built-in storage to keep things clutter-free, and I’m not really much of a hoarder anyway. As for the books, displaying them that way is how I balance being a total bookworm and needing to keep things fairly muted at home!

Biggest Embarrassment: The replica Mies van der Rohe “Barcelona” chair and stool in the main bedroom, which I bought in a moment of madness many years ago (I love the designs but could never afford originals). I really don’t agree with the whole fake-furniture industry and I’d never buy them now, but they’ll have to stay until I have the money to replace them with something else. Nowadays I’d much rather save up for real design, even if it takes years and years!

Proudest DIY: Painting around the built-in shelves and cupboards in the living room alcoves without splashing grey all over them!

Biggest Indulgence: I don’t think I can pick one particular thing, as I tend to think very carefully before investing in anything for the house rather than splashing out on impulse. The lighting and the dining table have probably been the most expensive purchases, but they’ve made such a huge difference to the look and feel of the house and I think we’ll still have them when we’re in our 80s!

Best Advice: Take things slowly, rather than rushing into big decorating decisions that you might end up regretting. It’s always worth living in a property for a while first, as you’ll get a feel for the light and how it changes throughout the day, as well as how you use the space. We’ve been in this house for four years now and we’re still doing it up–partly because of budget, but also because we want to get things right and create spaces that we’re happy to live with for years to come.

And don’t pay too much attention to trends—a home should be a reflection of you and your personality, not someone else’s taste. Who has the money to keep up with ever-changing trends anyway…?

Dream Sources: I source a lot of things from Scandinavian brands, as I love the way they balance form and function and don’t really date. My favorites are Menu, Ferm Living, New Works, By Lassen and Cooee Design. I dream of owning something by Kristina Dam, too, but that’s a “one day” thing!

I tend to mix investment pieces that I’ve saved up for with cheaper items from IKEA and H&M Home. Both have a great range, and their products look fantastic mixed up with more expensive items.



  • Gray rooms painted in ‘Cornforth White’ by Farrow & Ball
  • White rooms painted in ‘White Chiffon’ by Dulux



  • ‘KARLSTAAD’ sofas by IKEA (no longer available) with add-on legs and custom-made grey cotton covers from Bemz
  • ‘VITTSJÖ’ coffee table by IKEA
  • Rattan cone chair by Cox & Cox
  • Cream Berber rug by Rose & Grey
  • Medium ‘Lantern’ pendant lamp by New Works
  • ‘Bobby’ floor lamp by Habitat
  • White marble ‘JWDA’ table lamp by Menu
  • ‘Ripple’ throw by Muuto
  • Pink ‘Flow’ cushion from By Lassen
  • Camel velvet cushion covers from H&M Home
  • Nickel ‘Kubus 1’ and black ‘Kubus 2’ candleholders from By Lassen
  • Grey tray, grey and glass ‘Ball’ vases and black candleholder by Cooee Design
  • Black ‘Balance’ candleholder by Ferm Living
  • Black marble ‘Lens’ storage box by HAY
  • Running-glaze ‘Lyngby’ vase by Lyngby Porcelain
  • ‘Siena’ marble coasters by MADE.com
  • ‘Sea Grey’ print by Nadia Attura via Rise Art
  • ‘Hestar’ black and white horse print by Coco Lapine Design
  • Abstract grey and white watercolour print by IYAGallery
  • ‘Forest Mist’ print by Melissa Selmin


Thanks, Abi!

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