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.

There are charcoal linen blinds and concrete floor tiles setting off the paler grey of the tile. 2016-04-09 10.45.10

 

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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Inspiration, Interior Style

Who doesn’t love a before & after?

A favourite aspect of my Creative Services is giving Colour Consultations in peoples’ homes.

The words ‘safe’ & ‘neutral’ are used a lot for existing paint colours and there is usually a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the rooms as they are at the ‘before’ stage.

In the case study below, I was dealing with clients who had just bought a gorgeous Victorian terraced house close to the centre of Dublin. The house had been cleverly extended & restored but was painted, almost throughout, in tones of magnolia (my favourite!). The young couple were eager to put their own stamp on the house and make it their home. They called in my help the same week they had moved in! The couple are quite artistic themselves and wanted that to be reflected but they just needed suggestions and support in going ahead with colours, I was delighted to find they embraced all my ideas and within two weeks the house had been transformed! I selected a number of artworks from my Home Curation Service for the walls to really show off the colours as an effective backdrop to one’s own decorative details. In this post I am concentrating on the rooms where I suggested strong dramatic colours.

The bedroom was a small simple room with a nice feeling and we were working with the existing curtains which were a lovely thick oatmeal tweed with a blue ticking stripe. Image

Now the architectural details like the gorgeous little fireplace are brought to the fore. It has become a really special ‘wow’ room.

The artworks on the wall in the after shot on the right are by Jean Bardon and Grainne Cuffe.Image

The hall was like any other hall but now, using some the new greys by Little Greene, it has been transformed in to an inviting and dramatic space that draws you in from the outside world. Decorative details now pop out from the walls creating areas of interest where there was none.Image

As you can see, Lexie the dog loves the new house as she poses beneath a fabulous Springtime Still Life by Brien Vahey.Image

The hall follows down the next level to an in-between room which is used as a home office with a flip down desk.It is now cavernous and peaceful, a place to get lost in one’s work.ImageThe cabinet in the corner was going to be discarded but instead I suggested painting it Atomic Red – a lovely orange red that works with the brown greys.Image

The dining room is in a modern part right at the back of the house. It is used mainly in the evenings for entertaining, so we chose an ambient daring colour for the walls. At night the space changes its mood and already, it has been reported that many successful dinner parties have been enjoyed there. Image

If you fancy your own Colour Consultation either in Ireland or in London feel free to get in touch with me to arrange.

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Antiques & Antiquing, DIY, Inspiration, Interior Style

I heart copper

As an etcher, copper is very important to me as an essential core material – the plates I draw on with a needle are made from copper.

Imageimage: niamh mac gowan

but also at the moment for me I am really enjoying using copper in my interiors. I adore metallics  – not too shiny now – chrome to me is cold and clinical but rustic metals, mercuried silvers and distressed golds are great. I think their textures are very important as a layer in an interiors. Copper is so warm and I just love it with tweeds, linens and wools  – fabrics I often use.

Its also the fact that it can be utilitarian 

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image: via pinterest

or it can be decorative…

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image: niamh mac gowan

It works well in the kitchen….

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copper plate from herriott grace

and also is great for lighting as it emits a warm light…

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image: this ivy house

M&S copper pendant light

copper pendant light from M&S

strand lamp by Clancy Moore Architects

strand lamp by Clancy Moore Architects available from Makers & Brothers

 

 

I got this gorgeous copper wax from Cornelissens in London you can just rub it on wood and polish it off a few hours later. 

I have been decorating the bedroom this new year (more about that in a separate post) and I used it on the bed knobs 

Imageimage: niamh mac gowan

I also used it on an old sconce I had lying about…

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before

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et voila

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The nice thing about copper is that you can pick it up in bric-a-brac or charity shops for next to nothing.

I got this bowl in a shop in Brighton for £4 last Summer

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image: niamh mac gowan

I bought this oversized copper bauble last month and now it is doing disco ball duty in the bedroom..

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image: niamh mac gowan

I think I may be a magpie!

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Inspiration, Interior Style, Lifestyle

an Autumnal day at Ham House

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Having lived many years in Richmond, Southwest London, I was lucky enough to have a myriad of stunning buildings on my doorstep, one of them being the ever intriguing Jacobean Ham House on the river opposite Twickenham. I revisited the house the other day just as the Season was turning from late Summer to hints of Autumn and somehow the hues in the interior, as well as in the gardens, echoed this for me.

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Rusts and burnt sienna colours were in the bricks…

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soft green greys in the lavender

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the blue-purples of the damsons in the Kitchen Garden

As we went inside we passed the trompe l’oeils on either side of the entrance which now look like faded memory

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As I went around the rooms, the colours that had sung at me outside were evident in the fabrics and silk wallpapers in the darkened rooms. some have been restored – like this one. Glorious…

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I loved the warm gold details in the panelling

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I especially loved the picture lights

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detail of silk wall hanging

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Greys setting off golds and rich reds…Drama!

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One of my favourite rooms is the Green Closet with the finest collection of miniatures

you can see them all in detail on the National Trust’s website. I love the green silk backdrop. It wouldn’t be the same if it was just painted white would it?

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The flock wallpaper in the Duke’s Closet really caught my eye. What a colour! very now!

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why I love darkened dining rooms… the table covered in white linen looks very inviting.

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a detail of the leather wallpaper

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the view of the front from the window

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Evidence of how inspired I was by these Autumnal colours can be seen in this rug made from recycled wool that I bought in the National Trust shop outside.Image

Autumn bring it on!

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