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.


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

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, 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……….

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.


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.


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.



The entrance hall is a deep and dramatic colour.


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



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.



A mirror with gorgeous mercuried glass waits to be hung



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.



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.


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!


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



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





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



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




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




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



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



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


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 or tel: + 353 (0) 87 911 8236


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.

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 


image: via pinterest

or it can be decorative…


image: niamh mac gowan

It works well in the kitchen….


copper plate from herriott grace

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


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…




et voila


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


image: niamh mac gowan

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


image: niamh mac gowan

I think I may be a magpie!

Inspiration, Interior Style, Nature & the Coast

cosy & festive

I have had a number of requests to see my own house at Christmas so I am obliging. It is a dark stormy day so there is nowhere I would rather be at the moment!

So here are some snaps


my paper bunting and a bunch of pine cones still on their branches


 a tablescape!


 love all these greens


 my little tree


 did I mention I am in love with copper at the moment?


 little details


 speaking of copper…. my oversized bauble dazzles from the ceiling


 these jaunty baubles greet everyone who comes through the front door


 nature imitates art


 the mirror reflects a garland making it look twice as generous


 another tree in this corner



 oh look yet another little tree!


 Deerie says Happy Christmas

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.


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.


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.


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


Hang baubles from shelves or anywhere you see a hook!


 I made some bunting made from pages of an old book


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


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!


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.


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


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!


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!


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


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.


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


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


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


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.


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


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

DIY, Interior Style, Uncategorized

the ceiling

I caught up on painting a few details in my house that I have been meaning to do for ages. One that has been really annoying me is the white ceiling in my tiny hallway which I never got around to painting and it has always looked so wrong to me.





The hall now seems bigger  as without the colour junction the illusion is created that the ceiling is higher.