Inside the homes of Irish interior designers – The Irish Times


Irish interior designers spend their days creating stunning spaces for their clients, but what design choices do they make when it comes to decorating their own homes? Here we take a look inside the homes of three interior experts and see how they relished the opportunity to experiment with trends, showcase their signature styles and create homes with soul. .

Geri O’Toole of Limerick-based Geri Designs has embarked on a restoration project, transforming – with her husband Cathal – a derelict farm cottage built on the grounds of Mountshannon House into a modern, rustic gem. They juxtaposed elements in keeping with the character of the property, such as reclaimed beams and brick walls, with modern touches like industrial metal. She also incorporated antique elements and unique and unusual pieces of art picked up at auctions to create a sense of timelessness.

“Timelessness is so important to me,” she says. “I like my interiors to feel soulful, for someone…to come in and think it’s been done over time.” One of his pet peeves is if everything seems too shiny and new, “a little too matching and too perfect”. She suggests that one of the ways people can achieve that sense of timelessness is to have a custom millwork piece made for their home. Going bespoke may seem expensive initially, but will be less likely to date.

If O’Toole has one regret with his own cabin, it’s the laminate flooring they installed. “When we moved into the house, we always knew it wouldn’t be big enough for us in the long run.” Because she knew more work would eventually be required, she opted for laminate rather than choosing “forever flooring”. Laminate, she says, is “good” if dressed well. However, she likes natural materials, so “it doesn’t matter to me”.

Two kids and they are now “full of space” and renovating again. An extension will house their new kitchen. Luckily, the gorgeous Neptune units in their current kitchen won’t go to waste. “We’ll definitely be using the majority of that for utility.”

During the initial restoration of the cottage, O’Toole was so busy with work projects that she had to decorate it “by instinct”, as she had no time for sketches or detailed plans. This time around, however, she’ll be planning things like the bathrooms down to the smallest detail so she won’t miss any design opportunities.

Eclectic luxury

Suzie McAdam is perhaps best known as a former RTÉ Home of the Year judge, but she also runs a design consultancy renowned for creating stylish and playful interiors. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that his restored Victorian home in Sandycove, Dublin, is a masterclass in eclectic luxury. Think chinoiserie wallpaper, oversized hand-blown pink glass kitchen fixtures and, its “Cleopatra moment”, a one-ton marble bathtub.

McAdam describes the process of decorating the home as “design freedom.” “I really wanted to have fun and bring some playfulness,” she says. “Design can be very basic and dull, and I really wanted to surround myself with interesting and unusual things.”

One of her favorite design moments in the house is a pair of disco dog sculptures in the living room, as they elicit different reactions. “Some people come in and think, ‘Are these Christmas decorations?’, some people think they’re really scary, some people think they’re really fun.”

She advises people to take their time collecting the pieces they love, rather than buying everything new all at once. Much of his collection of art and antiquities has been salvaged over the years from places like Milan and Paris. “If I was at a dealership and saw something really nice and didn’t have it in mind for a project at this point, I might buy it and put it in storage.”

The process of renovating and decorating her own home taught her a lot as a designer. “It was like a crash course. Obviously, I had been working on renovations for years. I guess I didn’t really understand how invested people are…and the stress involved,” she says. “It made me understand the pressure.”

Would she do something different? “I installed a huge walk-in closet and master bathroom plus a slightly smaller utility,” she says. Now that she has young children, her priorities have changed. “I just wanted luxury. Now I want practicality. [The utility] it’s perfect, it works… but I had never planned the amount of detergent.

Maybe next time she’ll go for the larger utility; McAdam’s Sandycove home is currently on the market for 2.5 million euros with Bergins.

DIY and upcycling

Also in Limerick is Abbeyfeale Interiors founder Wioleta Kelly, who moved to Ireland from Poland in 2006, and now lives in the countryside near the village of Tournafulla with her husband and twin boys (who are due to retire). be three years old). The view from their windows is breathtaking and “the country house style suits our little bungalow best,” she says.

Kelly’s work means she is “constantly inspired” by new design ideas that she would like to try out in her own home. Despite the temptation to stray in different directions, it fulfilled the country-house design, incorporating rustic elements such as a sliding barn door to conceal a pantry.

However, his passion for DIY and personality mean he is far from a cottagecore interior by the numbers. Her individuality is evident in elements such as the dramatic murals on either side of the fireplace in the living room and the woodland animal mural she created in the twins’ nursery using a projector and permanent markers.

Her favorite item in the house was a swing that hung in the living room, but it was taken down to make way for a dividing wall she built herself. She comes from a very creative family, so DIY and upcycling comes naturally to her – and saves money. “I am very pragmatic. I don’t believe in spending a lot of money. If you have an unlimited budget, wow that’s amazing but I’m being realistic. Most of us have bills to pay.

Other recent DIY projects included a slatted wood wall unit and a table that conceals the radiator in the hall. She notes that hallways tend to be the least decorated part of a home and suggests people use paint to add a splash of color to this space.

In the past, she used to repaint the rooms in her house about once a year, which allowed her to experiment with all brands of paint. “I can tell you exactly which paint is the best on the Irish market.” (She prefers Colourtrend.) She also learned from her own mistakes – she painted the tiles in their bathroom shower, but even though she did her research and used a good quality primer and paint, she still didn’t. is peeling due to hot water and steam.

Her house may have been her design playground, but DIY experimentation is temporarily on hold: Her adorable “busy” twins are constantly on the go, crayons are everywhere, and wallpaper is peeling off. little fingers. While potty training may have replaced paint cans, for now she’s saving up for another big overhaul… but not before the twins have their first communion.


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