Inspiration, Interior Style

A Haven

I recently created a very special master bedroom in a clients early Victorian home in County Dublin.

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The room stretches across the width of the house and the huge sash windows look out over the neighbouring houses trickling down towards Dublin Bay.

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I thought the way to make the most of this would be to make the view be the star with the use of paint colours. Using the gorgeous new greys from Little Greene we painted the walls in Grey Moss and all the woodwork was subtly brought out with Toad. Both rich dark greys with undertones of green and brown.

The ceiling was painted Down.

I sourced a unique mantlepiece in its raw form – its honey colour set against the warm dark walls is a picture.

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The clients’ artwork pops out from the dramatic background

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The result is a restful place to escape in a busy family home. 

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Architectural details sing set against the paint colours

 

 

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Antiques & Antiquing, Art, Inspiration, Interior Style

A restoration of colour

I am sitting in the sunshine writing this, casting my mind back to the Winter months when I began consulting on an early Victorian house restoration in Dublin. The new owners had a fab sense of style but really wanted to do justice to this, their forever home. It had been broken in to flats in its previous existence and now needed to be brought back to life in a new chapter of becoming a home for a young family.

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I came in at the stage where paint colours were being chosen and decorative details were being considered

I remember we were numb with the cold, walking around trying to imagine how it was all going to look  as all the windows had been taken out.

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The owners were great, they wanted to push the boundaries with their choices of colour and be brave. They understood that how they painted their walls was going to dictate the atmosphere of each room. This was their chance to put their own mark on the house.

Spring has come and the house is now a home….

The outer entrance hall is a fresh pale green echoing the vert de gris in the reclaimed coach lantern.

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The entrance hall is a deep and dramatic colour.

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…. with the owner’s quirky papier maché deer head to greet visitors with his tongue firmly in his cheek.

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This leads to a lighter hall, stairs and landing with all the architraves becoming features by being painted in a darker hue to the walls. The owners fell in love with this painting  a few years ago after seeing it in a bidding raffle. I think they were destined to have it.

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A mirror with gorgeous mercuried glass waits to be hung

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The newly built boot room fulfills its function but is also a nice place to sit. The graphic poster advertising a sheep auction dating back to 1919 is a favourite of the owners and sits well in the ‘downstairs’ space.

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In fact all the artwork already owned by the family has found a place that seems right for it – throughout the house, the family’s personality shines through.

The dining room, which is mostly used in the evenings, is richly atmospheric with the artful details popping out of the rich clay colour of the walls.

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The chandelier has unexpected copper shades.

When viewing the house at its skeletal phase, the doorway from the hall was being closed off, I suggested creating a butlers alcove in the dining room keeping the bricks of the doorway exposed and using reclaimed planks as shelves, the terracotta adding warmth to the room, but also the feature is reminder of how far the house has come. This now houses a gorgeous copper & silver cloche bought by the owner for a song!

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The dining room leads to a sunny kitchen with airy high ceilings

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This fine gentleman observes life from above, he was sourced from Enniskerry Antiques through my Emporium of Decorative Detail  The ladder was sourced by the owners from Drew Pritchard architectural antiques

 

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Upstairs in one of the bedrooms, a beautiful little oil is the star.

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The new greys from Lilttle Greene work fabulously with the textures of the wooden mirror and the concrete tiles.

 

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When considering paint colours there was always a thought to how rooms would look as they lead to the next

 

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The guest room is pale and fresh – a haven for visitors to feel spoiled with a very thoughtful peg rail for their overnight things.

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The round mirror came from the previous home and fits in with the style of the new.

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A pale pink echoes plaster in the children’s room.

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When it came to moving in stage, I came back for the fun bit – to curate where the decorative pieces and artworks would go, the final piece of the jigsaw. It is these details that set off the carefully considered hues.

The house feels fresh and very now, while it has an awareness of it’s past. It is grand yet homely and quirky, therefore very much a home to relax and entertain while a young family have room to grow and enjoy it with friends.

A colour consultation is very worthwhile in making sure you really make the most of a space and the atmosphere there is the possibility to create.

For your own consultation focusing on either paint colours or decorative details, I can be contacted on niamhtheprintmaker@gmail.com or tel: + 353 (0) 87 911 8236

 

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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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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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DIY, Floral & Gardens, Inspiration, Interior Style, Nature & the Coast

Styling your home for the Festive Season – part 2

Continuing my notes on styling your home using nature as your resource……

Simply place an evergreen branch in a bucket  this is great for those short on funds for a costly Christmas tree or if like me you are short on space. It looks great on a hall table so Christmas greets your guests on entering.

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Another great alternative to a tree – or something to have in another room – on the kitchen dresser perhaps –

Tie together a bunch of deciduous branches. Hold in place in a garden urn or flower pot with some large stones – cover these with moss and decorate with your favourite baubles as these are going to be seen more so than if they were on the tree.

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Handy tip – always change the cheapy string on baubles to ribbon – it looks so much more expensive! Ribbon – when ever I buy a new dress the first thing I do is cut off those annoying ribbon loops that are waiting to flop out at an inopportune moment.

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and as a person who can’t throw anything away for fear of it being useful, I have a box full of them!

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Hang baubles from shelves or anywhere you see a hook!

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 I made some bunting made from pages of an old book

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 – love this especially if you have a darker colour on your walls – it really stands out but in a very simple way

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This year I will be mostly wrapping my presents in brown paper tied up with string

with an added embellishment of decorative detail from nature.

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Wishing you a very happy & stylish Christmas!

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Floral & Gardens, Inspiration, Interior Style, Nature & the Coast

Styling your home for the Festive Season – part 1

Styling your home for Christmas using nature as your resource.

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Instead of just automatically getting out the same box of decorations every year and putting everything in the same place, mix it up!

Start by going outside

Take a look in your garden: gather greenery – lleylandii, ivy, hydrangeas, anything with berries on it, eucalyptus, bay, – any herbs

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Go for a wintery walk in the woods: gather moss, pine cones, deciduous branches, evergreen branches – there are lots on ground now following recent storms.

Perhaps followed by a hot whiskey by the fire in your local pub!

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Create an atmosphere in your home….

Cosiness: Warmth from an open turf fire and from candles about the place.

Twinkly lights: tealights & fairy lights  everywhere and anywhere

Aromas: Christmas oil – dropped on to pine cones & herbs used as greenery. Mulled wine or cider simmering on the hob. Stick cloves in oranges wrapped in velvet ribbons.

and then a feast for the eyes with these decorative details…..

I found this copper bowl in a charity shop in Brighton for £4, I have filled it with pine cones dabbed with aromatic oil – a kind of modern day pot pourri!

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Choose your colours, this year I am focusing on greens, greys and copper, keeping it wonderfully simple

Wreaths are not just for the hall door

they can be hung in front of a mirror

at end of a hallway

or in a window

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Play with scale

You can make tiny wreaths – with rosemary or buxus or any other greenery with small leaves – for backs of chairs or again hung around the house – see here how to make this one above.

I also made this HUGE Lleylandii Wreath – using just greenery – simple simple.

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I used a hula hoop bought from my local toyshop for a couple of euro and wrapped it in masking tape and added branches of lleylandii – which is great as it floppy! I love the simplicity of this – but sadly it is too big for my house!!

(all branches were scavenged from recently felled trees that greatly improved the views from upstairs)

Choose your colours, this year I am focusing on greens, greys and copper again keeping it wonderfully simple

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 Bring in your lanterns from the garden – line with moss – mini cones – grey candles

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I gathered some branches with tiny cones  and dabbed some gold paint on them

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Another idea is to get an antique plate or a tray and line with moss, place one or ideally a number of candles within this and dot a few small baubles and pine cones nestling on the moss. This would make an impressive centrepiece as it will sit low on the table.

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I dyed an old cream linen tablecloth to black – the perfect backdrop for all the coppers and moss greens and twinkly lights

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tea towels and linens for napkins – folded with string and decorated with a nature detail

all images by Niamh Mac Gowan  except the photograph of the marvellous Jerusalem Tavern

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meet 'Deerie'

I got this cute little fella in Petersham Nurseries a couple of weeks ago, he was all on his own and I thought it was carved out of wood but when I picked it up I found it light as a feather – made of papier maché!

Interior Style

Meet ‘Deerie’

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Inspiration, Interior Style

Purple

Seeing the rich deep colours of the blackcurrant leads me to looking at rich purple colours in interiors. When used as a paint colour on walls it has a very dramatic effect like for example this bathroom painted in ‘brinjal’ by Farrow & Ball

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or in this more eclectic bathroom – the drama is still there, enhanced by the tiling details

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Stunning isn’t it? I love the way the light plays on the colour.

 

There are quieter ways to introduce a rich purple into your interior

Take this large bookcase in the dining room of Marianna Kennedy in Spitalfields (featured in Ben Pentreath’s Book). The large bookcase is painted in a deep aubergine colour, the depth of which is heightened by the marigold yellow of the inside of the cabinet.

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Similarly the beautiful subtle colour of this kitchen door in this farmhouse in County Cork (photograph by Simon Brown) is highlighted by the primrose yellow of the dresser.

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Of course as usual the gentler way of entertaining the colour in your home is in the details.

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these sing out against their pale grey background

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Simple flowers from the garden can dictate your accent colours at home from day to day

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English designer Ben Pentreath has made his dahlias the stars on his mantlepiece, complemented by those deep purple candles. 

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simples

 

 

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DIY, Interior Style

Fancy a dip?

This old pine desk was the very first piece of furniture I bought.

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I was sixteen and it was IR£25. I can still remember my Dad bringing me to buy it in a now long gone bric-a-brac shop in Ranelagh, having withdrawn the money from my savings account. Miss Doyle, my art teacher at the time, was teaching us to restore a piece of furniture in our art class. It was a very useful lesson! We were taught to scrape it down with curved broken glass a very laborious but effective way of stripping back, and then painting or waxing to finish off.  so I restored many years ago and since then it has been my desk through school and college, my hall table in my last cottage and now it is my downstairs desk at home. I have recently been feeling it needed a spruce up. It has had a bout of woodworm over the years and there are stains of twenty odd years of cups of tea and glasses of wine sitting on it. So on a sunny saturday I took it outside and scraped it back and applied many coats of woodworm treatment to be sure I am rid of the blighters. There was lot of damage on the top, so I filled all the channels with filler.

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I then applied a couple of coats of the palest grey just on the table top. This style of treating furniture is very popular at the moment, where we can appreciate bare wood but at the same time use paint to introduce colour or when practical for covering up stains or repairs.

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I finished off by sanding the legs and bringing them back with a good polish of beeswax and the table has been revived. I used a hard wearing acrylic matt paint from colourtrend in Daytona Grey. And here is the desk back doing it’s job:

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As I mentioned, it reminds me of the dipping trend thats going on at the moment, which I am planning to do to a bentwood chair inherited from my granny that I am currently scraping back.

Here are some images to inspire….

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dipped ash stool from toast

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gorgeous dipped storage baskets

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cute dipped bentwoods at Hally’s Café in London

Maybe you have an old bit of furniture to breathe new life into? enjoy!

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Antiques & Antiquing, Art, Interior Style

The rug has come to its new home

My rug has arrived from London – I had it professionally cleaned by a fellow who happened to be Persian and he exclaimed when we opened it up…”Where did you get this!! This is very old! Its beautiful.” So he carefully cleaned it for me with due care and attention and now the Afghan rug begins the next chapter of its intriguing life in Ireland……

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A piece of real gold thread has been stitched in to this orange square….

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