Inspiration, Lifestyle, Nature & the Coast

Colourful Copenhagen

I am just home from a busy and inspirational trip to Denmark.

My sister, Alva is based there at the moment living in a very privileged situation 

– right in the centre of the old part of Copenhagen, Nyhavn2016-08-26 10.23.48The exterior of the building is a beautiful pink.2016-08-26 18.43.58But once you are through the doors it leads to courtyard where the walls are an ochre lime render – a colour I have been researching lately for another project. 2016-08-25 10.24.30

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I had the opportunity to meet lots of interesting Danes during the visit. We chatted about the use of the Danish flag in interiors. The Danes see the use of their flag to mean ‘hooray lets party!’ rather than a huge nationalistic pride. You have to admit it is a good looking graphic and makes great bunting.

There were swims to be had around the corner at the newly built Ofelia Plads. Lots of people had the same idea…. sandwiches, chilled Rosé, Danish flag napkins and a towel…sorted.

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We visited the Stunning Rosenborg Castle – a 17th Century Palace in Copenhagen built by Christian IV. It was filled with atmosphere, partly thanks to its very clever lighting akin to candlelight. I think they even had ‘Hygge’ in those days, as my friend Helen Russell will tell you

It reminded us both of Ham House in Surrey.

One of the highlights of the trip was a naughty afternoon spent drinking fizz in the sun in one of my favourite places in the world!  Nyboder is a district Copenhagen made up of rows of purpose built Naval Barracks built in the mid 18th century, currently embarking on full and faithful restoration  – as with most old buildings in Denmark. Henriette, our wonderful host explained that the building would have housed the wives and children of the sailors and they very much shared their homes and gardens and supporting eachother for the months while their husbands were at sea.

It is still mostly inhabited by the Danish navy, army and airforce and their is definitely a distinct feeling there. The colour of the render is known as Nyboder yellow. If ever a colour lifted the soul!

 

On our last day we went sailing in Roskilde Fjord. The reason Alva came to Denmark was to sail on the Sea Stallion, a working replica of a viking longship unearthed in Roskilde, which tests revealed the wood it was built with grew in our own Glendalough in County Wicklow! Read more about Alva’s adventures on the ship here. There is fabulous working museum there – worth a trip.  We went sailing on a replica of a Norwegian fishing boat. It was, shall we say, a very exciting and a bit hairy at times due to unforecast winds that came from nowhere.

Love the colour of the sails  – and the boat was painted white, pink, orange and green.

I have returned home with a heart full of inspiration fueling my love of colour. I met some fantastic people, notedly strong women who work hard and like a good laugh. There was thoughtful design everywhere I looked. Older buildings are cherished and lived in and maintained, therefore are surviving. I am seeing quite a lot of refurbishment on a few of the projects I am working on here in Ireland. I think we are getting better at being faithful to our heritage and being a bit more gutsy in our own use of colour. I would encourage you to consider using it somewhere outside as well as inside. Even on a dull rainy day it can be uplifting!

 

p.s. It is great to come home to this little fellow and race up to the cliffs where it is evident the Season is achanging. I’m ready…

 

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Antiques & Antiquing, Art, Inspiration, Interior Style, Nature & the Coast

Pottery love

This month we availed of the fairly new route with AerLingus … Dublin to Newquay. Cornwall has been a beloved holiday destination of mine for about 20 years but it can be quite a trek, so to have hopped on a sweet little plane after a brunch in Dublin airport and in just over an hour to be in taxi whizzing through windy roads the tiny little village of Portloe was a delightful revelation.

Anyhow my ‘thing’ when I travel is to buy ceramics, something you can use when you get home and nod to fond memories as you sup your tea or look for the right vessel to best enhance the latest blooms from the garden.

My latest grá is for painterly ceramics – each piece is unique, a 3D painting really so what an affordable way to collect! Each piece adds colour and pattern to the room they’re in whether they are on the kitchen table, on a window sill or in pride of place on a shelf.

I try and keep a record of who has made them also. Above there are pieces by Kevin Warren, bottom left while top left is by David Garland and the little pot by the boxing hare is fish pye pottery.

If you go to Cornwall, I would recommend a visit to The Sandpiper Gallery in Mousehole where new owner Celia has curated a delicious mix of colours & textures in the dreamy setting of an airy room overlooking the harbour.

In St Ives – which is synonymous with art & studio pottery,  there is a hidden gem St Ives Ceramics which has an informal shop but as you sink deeper in to the depths of the building it takes on a museum like quality as the most fantastic collection of Japanese & British pottery (including plenty of Bernard Leach pieces) spanning a century, these are behind glass so there is no worries about knocking anything over with your giant handbag (that’s me). That part of the shop would be for the avid collectors and perhaps not a starting point. Buy something that catches your eye – that you want to cradle in your hands, wrapped carefully it will travel back nestled in your suitcase – unpacking becomes a joy as you unwrap the pieces and see them immediately brighten up their new surroundings.

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Antiques & Antiquing, Art, Inspiration, Interior Style, Nature & the Coast

The Natural Showhome – part 2

On we go upstairs – a large scale antique patchwork wall hanging in the stairwell is contemporary while also bringing texture and gravitas to the space.

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The stairway leads up to one of my favourite places in the house – the spacious landing.

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I commissioned fellow Wicklow based craftsman James Carroll to make a bench for this particular space. The seat has been made from Elm, the legs from Ash with inset details in Walnut – all grown in Wicklow.

Glimpse in to one of the rooms leading off here and we see a gorgeous little etching / aquatint called ‘Cloud: Half formed’ by Niamh Flanagan.

 

In to the first bedroom which has a balcony looking out to the hills.

There is crisp white linen, a felt wool upholstered headboard, a quilted cotton bedspread and herringbone throw all set off by the restful blue of the walls. Loving the seagulls flying above the bed.

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Next we have the family bathroom – the wall tiles here remind me of distressed metal. They are warmed up by the solid oak bathroom accessories. It is all very simple in here. As with all the bathrooms in the house, there are lots of clean lines and plenty of places to put everything, be it decorative or functional.

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Down the passageway to two more bedrooms..

 

 

We are now in the guest bedroom with en-suite, a room that I think could easily be an alternative master bedroom.

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Across the hallway a door leads in to the twin room.

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I think twin beds are really versatile in a home. I spent a lot of time in other peoples’ homes and I am increasingly finding that children love sharing a room with their siblings – creating a lifelong bond. I was also thinking of the house being full of visitors and twin beds in a guest room is so much more versatile for overnight guests.

 

Right, off in to the master bedroom

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This is a very serene and opulent room with dusty pink velvets and linens, inspired by the botanic etching on the wall by Marta Wakula-Mac.

 

 

There is a walk thru wardrobe in a fantastic finish resembling the tones in wet cement. Here there is a dramatic mirror reflecting the light from the bedroom window

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A stunning etching by Maev Lenaghan ‘La Vie en Rose’ sits beautifully in the dressing room.

All the artworks in the house were acquired through my Home Curation Service and were intrinsic to the colours and feel of every room.

 

This atmospheric vestibule leads through to the most fabulous en-suite, it feels like this room goes on forever. Here the porcelain tiles resemble slate, creating a rich contrast with the oak and white. LOVE it.

 

Thus concludes the tour of Cluain Mara nestled in the hill above the beautiful harbour town of Kinsale. I have hugely enjoyed being given free reign to create a home that is rich in atmosphere and decorative detail, inspired by the colours and textures of its surrounds.

 

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Antiques & Antiquing, Inspiration, Interior Style, Nature & the Coast

The Natural Showhome

I have spent the Winter working on creating a very special, and I think, thoughtful showhouse for my fellow visionaries, Centurion Homes in Kinsale, County Cork.

It is the first house in an enclave of new houses called Cluain Mara situated up the hill on Farm Lane – a short walk away from the hustle & bustle of one of my favourite Irish harbour towns.

After months of  planning, gathering,  sourcing, visualising and imagining, we had a team of hugely hardworking peeps helping me putting the final pieces together, painting, refurbishing and upcycling furniture, hanging and steaming curtains, making the oh so many beds, cleaning and cleaning again. Everyone mucked in and the house, which was so detailed, it was finished only an hour before the launch on the 9th of April. The good news is, it went down a treat and the buyers are a buying.

Nature, the Coast, and the lifestyle that comes with living with all of that on your doorstep are the subtle inspiration in the house. There is a cohesive use of wools, velvets, linens & tweeds throughout the house and I have concentrated on creating a very relaxed, all be it different, atmosphere in every room. All the paint colours are natural tones and hues chosen from Colourtrend Paints – an Irish paint company with high quality paint, both in pigment and durability.

The flooring laid in the kitchen, dining space and hallway is high-end engineered oak facilitating the underfloor heating, while the sitting room, den and stairs and upstairs rooms have a very comfy 100% wool carpet.
I have focused on every little detail throughout the house, so the potential homeowner is given the feeling that they could just put their suitcase down and move in, feeling right at home.

Would you like a tour?

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Entering the hallway there is an antique mirror flanked by objects with coastal nod as the Sea is only a stroll away. Nearby, a detailed mezzotint by Master Printmaker James McCreary also references the surrounding countryside.

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In through to the large kitchen / dining space which spans the length of the house. Here, there is a juxtaposition of the sleek matte contemporary kitchen units by Kube and the antique  & wooden pieces that I have brought in to add warmth and an perhaps an air of fabulousness methinks.

Isn’t that the nicest utility room? I always think people cut corners on their utility rooms, but I think you want to be in a beautiful place when doing those tedious tasks. The bespoke light was made especially for for the space by Coppergreen.ie.

In the front window of the kitchen there is a ‘love seat’ to sit in the sunshine while others toil in the kitchen, or you can sit up to the island for a better view.

 

On through to the dining space – separated by a half wall – the cosy atmosphere is enhanced by an antique wheatsheaf chandelier. The recycled elm dining table is ready to be gathered around for supper.

 

Next we go to the sitting room – a very different feeling here – light and airy in the daytime but pull the dark green linen blinds, light the fire and sink in to the wool carpet and it is cosy time. The refurbished Swedish style cupboard houses vintage board games for everyone to play with in front of the flickering flames after a day out sailing or hiking.

Once again lighting is key in this room. The black & copper sconces were designed specifically for either side of the fireplace by Coppergreen.ie, while the gorgeous oversized clay & wooden lamps are from the wonderful local shop in the Kinsale, ‘Granny’s Bottom Drawer’. The bespoke oak mantle and bench/firewood store was made for us to our specifications by Carrigaline Joinery, while the honed limestone hearth was made by local firm O’Callaghan Fireplaces in Halfway.

Down the hallway to the study / den… this is where you watch a movie with a big bowl of popcorn…. or perhaps you need a quiet, peaceful space to work from home. An old map of the area lets you know exactly where you are.

 

Further down the hall, there is a sweet downstairs WC in my favourite seaweed colour.

 

Tomorrow, we go upstairs……….

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Interior Style, Lifestyle, Nature & the Coast

In to the West

Last week we embarked on an unexpected adventure. I have been on the lookout for a little dawg for a very long time. There is a fantastic dog rescue centre, Madra located on the West Coast of Ireland, and a little fella arrived there last week and when I saw him  and heard about what he was like, I knew he was the one. After lengthy phone calls & to-ing & fro-ing texts and an accommodating emergency home check to make sure the house and gardens were suitable, we decided to make the trip in the hope that everything would fall into place. When I managed to book a room in one of my favourite hotels, I had a feeling karma was on our side. So we packed the car with lots of picnic stuff and began the long journey feeling apprehensive yet excited.

After Galway City, we were done with motorways and stone walls had begun appearing for a while now and the scenery  was becoming spectacular…..

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Travelling on the Coast road to Án Spidéal, we were nearly there, so we found a gorgeous beach with the Aran Islands in the distance ,so parked up and had the first warm & sunny picnic of the year. My mum always used to say that food tastes nicer when eaten outside how true her words were. Back on the road and we eventually found our destination down a boreen and with my heart in my mouth I was brought to the kennels where all the dogs were wagging their tails saying with their eyes pick me! pick me!!

My little fella was carried out to see me and the lead handed to me and we were encouraged to go and get to know each other so we brought him to a field and sat down on a stone wall and have a chat & a pet .

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He seemed very sad but offered his chin for a tickle and leaned against our knees delighted the affection. Everyone in Madra seemed a little in love with him as he is a gentle little chap just looking for love. My mind was made up and he would come home with us tomorrow.  The adoption papers were signed and I tried to explain to him that I would be back tomorrow to take him. We then headed off to Clifden to take time out and be sure about the decision and to rest after the long journey. We stayed in the very special Quay House in the Harbour. A two hundred year old building that was originally the Harbour Master’s house.

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It is owned and run by Paddy & Julia (also proud owners of two very stylish pugs).

They were there to welcome us when we arrived and had arranged a harbour view room for us.

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The view from the window was spectacular and really made us feel we were on our holidays – all be it a short stay!

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The reason I am telling you about the Quay House is because its interiors are just fabulous, and like my style, it does not have the appearance of having been ‘interior designed’ which for me is too contrived. It is far more relaxed and has stories to tell in ever corner.  There is a mix of Colonial style – with worldly finds dotted about,

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The Nautical influence is apparent also, but in the right way, no twee-ness!

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There are also classic details  – like chequered floors and beautiful original old paintings in crumbly gold frames.

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Then there are the quirky displays dotted about.

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The key with these interiors, as with my own style,  are that although they are stylish & ambient, they do invite you to flop in to a chair and take up a good book.

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Or my favourite – standing by the mantlepiece with a glass of fizz in your hand!

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So we had a gas night out up in the town with the locals and after a walkabout the next morning we headed off back to south Connemara, this time cross country on the narrowest bog roads with all the sheep hanging about in the middle of those very roads.

We pulled up at the dog refuge and my little fella was signed off and his jaunty new colour and lead attached. Into the car and we headed home.

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He was introduced to the front garden first, a bit dazed but very calm and interested.

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Its been intense these last few days, and when he is trying to be independent, every few moments he has to come back to check and see if I am still there. But I think he is beginning to realise he has come home.

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As I sit at my desk and type, he is asleep at my feet snoring away, content. Mission accomplished.

 

 

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DIY, Inspiration, Nature & the Coast

from the seashore

As anyone who has taken a walk with me on the beach will tell you, I can’t resist picking up a good shell. They then end up collecting in a bowl or accumulated in a still life on a cabinet. I was at client’s house yesterday touching up some old gold mirrors and an idea came to me.

So when I got back home, I cleaned up some shells and took out my lush gold paint

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simple as

 

 

I quite fancy them as salt & pepper receptacles……..

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DIY, Inspiration, Interior Style, Nature & the Coast

being resourceful

So I decided recently I would like some curtains for inside the hall door – have always loved the idea, so this January, with next to no budget, I finally got around to making them.

I went to Helen Turkington’s fabric outlet and bought a lovely tweed material – it was from their lovely remnants cupboard so I bought a couple of metres for half the price.

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I already had some heavy linen so it was just a case of stitching the two lots of fabric together – making sure that the lovely herringbone went on the top where it would be seen…

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Then off to the beach to collect driftwood  – particularly in a Y shape

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Y? because I had a plan to make my own rustic curtain rail – fitting in with the textures of tweed & linen

I bought some dowelling in the local hardware shop and limed it

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I also got two wooden knobs which I also limed and we screwed them to either end of the dowelling after it was cut to size.

….not before stringing it with remnant curtain rings that I bought loose from the local haberdashery after kneeling down and rummaging in a big box full of odd rings.

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With the brackets screwed to the wall, it was just a case of placing the new curtain rail on top

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I was amazed when I closed the curtain after putting them up. It was a stormy night outside and I instantly felt cosier but not only that, the hall stopped being an entryway and became its own room.

People who are familiar with my little house are aware of how many rooms I have (not many!) so to have an extra useable space in the evening is fab. happy days!

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