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

A Country Christmas at Hunter’s

xmascountry

I’m so excited about next months two Inspiration Masterclasses.  The events are a fine opportunity to get in the mood, with friends, for the festive season while gleaning tips and ideas on how to decorate your own home with an emphasis on using Nature & the Garden as your resource.

The afternoon will be filled with creative ideas for decorative detail around your home from myself and this will be followed by a demonstration of creating your own seasonal harvest and tonic drinks with Glenealy based local Courtney Tyler of Hips & Haws Wildcrafts. Courtney will show us how to create our own healthy wildcrafted tonic drinks using foraged wild berries such as elderberries, blackberries and rose hips. She will concentrate on cordials, shrubs, sodas and fruit wines.

The event which is now an annual tradition for many regular attendees, takes place in the cosy, atmospheric surroundings of Ireland’s oldest coaching inn, Hunter’s Hotel, County Wicklow.

My aim is for everyone to leave with a warm glow and full of inspiration for decorating your own home for the festive season and through the Winter until Spring. Ticket price includes Hunter’s renowned homemade afternoon tea (complete with deelish sambos, scones & cake) and a glass of fizz by the fire.

The events take place on Saturday 3rd October & Saturday 10th October

Places are limited so early booking is advisable. You can book on either of the dates here

Niamh Mac Gowan Interior Stylist  http://niamhmacgowan.com/

Courtney Tyler http://www.hipsandhaws.com/

Standard
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

2016-08-24 21.23.10

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.

2016-08-26 15.43.21

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…

 

Standard
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.

2016-04-06 16.38.45 copy

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

2016-04-09 12.11.16

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.

2016-04-09 12.50.27

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.

2016-04-09 12.49.23

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

2016-04-09 12.43.41

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

2016-04-09 12.38.05

 

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

2016-04-07 11.46.08

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.

 

Standard
Lifestyle, Nature & the Coast

a sweet festival

Our local Summer festival was held in a field by the sea yesterday

2014-07-20 15.55.26

I love going to it as it an uncommercial and back to basics as you can get

Graeme, one of the gardeners from Mount Usher had a table where he was demonstrating propagating 

His wife, animal lover Barbara was judging the dog show

2014-07-20 15.59.37

2014-07-20 16.00.20

All my choir ladies were popping up everywhere – selling raffle tickets, making teas, counting money in caravans!

My old friends the Mansons from Ballyrogan had the art stand and were creating masterpieces with the children. 

I had a lovely chat with the gents who run the bee keeping association for Ashford and district

They were telling me all about the hierarchy of bees and showing me the Queen holding court while all her courtiers were cleaning her (she is the one with the green mark below)

    2014-07-20 16.36.29 2014-07-20 16.37.03 2014-07-20 16.37.35

I bought some honey from them. I look forward to it knowing that this honey was made from local oilseed rape, clover and brambles. 

2014-07-21 10.52.10

I also learnt something I never knew, that when your honey granulates, (which is a good sign by the way – it means it is pure honey) it can be brought back by gently heating it – in a saucepan of water or if you are cooling down the oven – you just have to take off the lid while doing so.

2014-07-20 16.39.43

At one stage, as they were doing the raffle I was asked to pick from the tombola (which I couldn’t reach) I was described as they were trying to get my attention – on the mic as “the lady with the little dog and glass of rosé” I thought  “that sounds like me” “oh it is me!”

 

2014-07-20 16.58.48 2014-07-20 16.59.26 2014-07-20 17.45.01

boys against the girls in the tug-of-war

2014-07-20 17.45.59

with a very strict ref

2014-07-20 17.46.34

the boys – just before they lost….

2014-07-20 17.47.16

Tidy up time….

2014-07-20 19.16.22

all that was left by the evening 

2014-07-20 19.18.37 

Standard
Art, Nature & the Coast

Wicklow Hills

For my latest etching, I went up to the nearby hills and sat in a very old graveyard, where I could get the best view and sketched away what quickly crept on to the next page of my panoramic sketchbook. I wanted to capture the gentle slopes of the hills, dotted with livestock while the farm below nestled in the dip before the undulations, while in the distance the faint hills and glimpse of the bay were a reminder of where you were.

Image

In order to achieve the myriad tones on the plate I spent many hours in the basement of the Graphic Studio aquatinting and etching with the acid ….

Image

Here is the result, a panoramic landscape complete with a tumultuous sky!

Image

‘Wicklow Hills’

etching & aquatint

edition of 125

plate size 70mm x 340mm

paper size 220mm x 490mm

 

Feel free to contact me if you would like to buy one.

Standard
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

Image

Image

simple as

 

 

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

Image

Standard
Antiques & Antiquing, Interior Style

Aladdin’s Cave

Something to do in WIcklow on an Autumnal day.

Image

Meet Aladdin,…. otherwise known as John.

John has a penchant for nice old things. And lucky for us he likes to share them with us. I often pop in to his shop to see whats ‘new’. Even if you only have a tenner in your purse you can still come away with a little vintage treasure. His little shop situated on the hill in Enniskerry Village is always worth a visit. When I am looking for those decorative items for clients’ homes,  John’s shop of curios and antiques is one of my go to places.

Image

Come on in and see…..

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

and afterwards you can go for a walk at the foothills of the Sugarloaf Mountain.

Image

Standard
Interior Style, Nature & the Coast

Stickman

Yesterday on a rainy Sunday afternoon I popped up to see my friend James Carroll to talk wood & woodlands.

James is a craftsman, designer and lover of wood in all its forms. For me, as an interiors stylist, he is an invaluable person for me to be able to call on, as wood for me is a very important component in any interior and indeed, exterior. I think it keeps us grounded, who we are and where we come from. If you think about it, it has always been used in interiors right from our beginnings. I love that in hand made pieces of furniture there is a patina and a provenance even if the piece is newly made. A few years ago, James made me this beautiful wide bench, very characteristic of his own style with the bark kept on the legs. This currently divides my dining area from a seating area housing lots of books and a big sturdy lamp. It is also often carried out to the garden when there is a load of us gathering around the garden table. Every house should have a bench!

Image

I have designed a rustic dining room for my stand at the Ideal Home Show later this week. I have spent weeks planning every detail as I want to illustrate to people how effective decorative display can be when it is coupled with carefully chosen paint colours. I woke up one morning last week with a vision in my head of place mats which I will be needing for the table when its laid out. I didn’t want bog standard place mats, I envisaged slices of wood that would sit perfectly with the rough linens and antique cutlery I have already selected. So I gave James a call and described what I had in my head, and hey presto, he made them for me.

They are made from sequoia wood – a redwood tree that I had never heard of – you learn something new everyday! – and they have a beautiful dual tone to them.

So yesterday I visited James in his workshop in the Wicklow Mountains to collect them. They are perfick.

Image

James in his workshop

Image

The proud craftsman

Image

Image

and here they are doing their job …..

Image

The next project is to create a large rectory table with benches, something special that would be the absolute heart of a home, where people perhaps sit working at one end and gather around the other.

James’s website is http://stickman.ie

Have a look.

Standard
Inspiration, Interior Style, Nature & the Coast

Autumn Hues

I was passing through the Wicklow Mountains last weekend and even though there was a gale blowing, I couldn’t resist taking a few snaps

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

All those colours are so stunning.

Nature is one of my main starting points for colours and even just seasonal adornment. Below are lots of images to inspire……..

Image

Golden hues recall harvest time

Image

Image

Image

It can be as simple as adding shots of colour with tea towels!

Image

Image

Warm walls   image by: Sharon Cairns

Image

Terracotta hues in the bricks at Ham House

Image

Image

Eclectic & cosy living at Arne Maynard’s house image: The Interior Archives

Image

Subtle textures and earthy tones with terracotta bricks with walls the colour of mud

Image

image via: Country living.com

Image

image via: linenandlavender.com

Image

Image

String your nature finds together to create a garland!

Image

Oh rust & ruby velvets – how stunning!    image: Astier de Villatte

Image

My throws on the couch for extra comfort on nights in

Image

Image

Image

image: via Atelier A.M. | Mark D. | b r o w n s

Image

Textures – image bodie& fou

Image

oh so beautiful!

Image

Faded blooms reflect Autumn

Image

Atmospheric grey walls make a feature of the leather couch

Image

Texture & colour injection with rugs – image by toast

Image

Cosmos at the herbacious border in Mount Usher gardens

Time to light the fire and enjoy those cosy evenings….

Image

Standard
Antiques & Antiquing, Art, Inspiration

What a difference a frame makes

A frame can make or break a painting. It is there to encase, protect and enhance but in a very subtle way. If a frame is working your eye should be drawn immediately to the image. Its hard for me as a curator as bad frames really annoy me! When you get it right …ooh!

But here I am asking you to focus on the frames…..

I acquired this wonderful oil sketch of Wicklow by George Campbell RHA (1917-1979) from a bric -a-brac shop last month

Image

but even though the frame was new it just wasn’t right for me. So I painted the outer part in off black by Farrow & ball – a lovely chalky finish.

Image

much better!

Then there was this beautiful oil of Richmond Park by Lee Campbell in a simple wooden frame. (Just realised by pure coincidence she has the same surname as previous artist!)

Image

The frame was fine, not detracting from the picture, but I wanted to pull out those lovely shadows Lee has painted so I re-framed it in a more substantial darker frame with hints of dulled gold around the edges enhancing the light dancing on the summer grasses – now I feel like I am there when I look in to the painting!

Image

and lastly my painting of Coliemore Harbour by Brien Vahey. Here he is signing it for me

Image

I have framed this in a heavy frame also – in keeping with the style of my sitting room. I had it framed in a gold frame but found the gold too yellow so last night I added a black/brown chalky wash on the curved part, this has calmed it down and again pulls out Brien’s shadowy strokes. am delighted with it and it hangs happily with the Lee Campbell beneath.

Image

So sometimes you can improve a frame yourself with a tester tin of paint

Or you may not see it, but some of the artwork on you walls that you are not too enamoured with, may be just because the frame is not doing it’s job.

Part of my Home Curation Service entails home visits where I can help you rethink how old paintings are framed as well as how they are hung.

more info see: http://niamhmacgowan.com/interior/framingService.php

Standard