Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thoroughly Irish treats

I dropped into the launch of the new Foxford Woollen Mills shop on Drury St this morning. It's called No. 6 Castlemarket, and it's very much a showcase of the partnership between Foxford and Helen McAlinden, who has been designing soft furnishings for the company for a while now, about five years I reckon. The actual shop has been open for almost three years now (I think!) and they recently gave it a mini makeover to create more of a focus on the interiors end of things. Helen has given a really contemporary and cosmopolitan look to the brand, which is often perceived as extremely traditional, and the shop is a wonderful showcase for the many beautiful Foxford products. Uses for the soft and snuggly wool extend far beyond blankets and throws, and there are some fab sofas and statement chairs on offer, as well as woollen blinds and, my personal favourite, an extremely huggable wall covered in a soft grey woollen pinstripe. So cast aside your very traditional view of Foxford Woollen Mills and take a look at how modern it is. You really can get everything under the one roof here as well - besides the soft furnishings, there are lots of lovely pieces of furniture and some great accessories, along with the Faulkner Interiors Studio where you can avail of David Faulkner's interior design service that includes curtain making. My very amateur photography does it little justice, but here's a taster of what's on offer - from the top: this is a soft and cosy wing chair (€800) covered in Foxford wool, and there are also other chairs and sofas similarly covered; these would make such a statement in the garden, and they're citronella so they keep bugs at bay - you can buy refills that slip in easily; I want want want want want this table - it has a wooden base and concrete top, and it's my dream dining table, the only catch being that it's €1,100; here's a teeny tiny sample of the wide range of bedlinen, that is competitively priced, particularly given the quality - 300-thread duvet covers start at €55; here are some of the lovely breezy accessories; a pretty little coffee table upstairs; this is the totally touchable upholstered wall - mmmmmm, soft.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Did I inadvertently make it rain by yakking on about how nice the sun was? It's so grey out there now - makes me want to wrap myself up in Cath Kidston oilcloth and hop home all colourful and waterproof! If you're a CK fan the Kildare Village outlet is a must for you. I wouldn't even be super into her stuff, but, dotted here and there about the house, her prints are bright and lively. I got some wonderful napkins and teatowels, as well as a cute knitting bag, which is currently home to my second knitting project - a scarf for my five-year-old nephew. Anyhow - you can get oilcloth there for €22 per metre.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday dreaming

The sun has been making an extremely commendable effort to pop its head out from behind the clouds of late, which is giving me lots of summery vibes. I'm really excited about the prospect of potentially getting to wear some summer clothes this year, they don't get out much with our monsoony holiday months. Since I am bracing myself for the prospect of home ownership, I don't really see how a proper foreign holiday can fit into the plans this year. If we do actually get a summer I would really love to take a break at home - I haven't been to Dingle in ages, and the house of gallery owner Susan Callery (featured in our July/August 2008 issue) really made me keen to pay a visit to that neck of the woods as soon as I get a chance. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Irish building of the year 2009

The RIAI Irish Architecture Awards 2009 are taking place and you have until Sunday to submit your vote for the People's Choice Award. There are 35 buildings to choose from, I haven't quite decided which is my favourite yet, but my shortlist is as follows:

This is an insertion into St George's & St Thomas's Church by Clancy Moore architects - so unusual to see such a project these days.

This is a café/bar on Deal Pier by Niall McLaughlin Architects. I love this, it's so wild and romantic looking.

Hazelwood School by GM & AD Architects is a school that caters for 60 student with multiple disabilities, aged from 2 to 19. The aim with this project was to take away any traces of an institutional feel, and it really does look like a welcoming and stimulating environment.

Landscape room by LID Architecture - this looks positively idyllic.

The Library in Abbeyleix by de Blacam & Meagher - if only all public libraries could be like this...

...and if only all cinemas could be like this! The Light House cinema by DTA Architects.

The Wexford Opera House by OPW & Keith Williams Architects - mmmmm, opulent.

Monday, November 8, 2010


The July/August issue of House and Home is on shelves now! On the cover is the lovely Julianne Kelly, who shares a project that she worked on in a period house on the east coast. We also have a really warm and individual house in Malahide, along with tons of outdoors-y ideas, customised high street furniture and my guide to the wonderful city of Copenhagen.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Yet another addiction of mine

Along with books, cute kitchen stuff, random pieces of furniture and god knows what else, I am unavoidably drawn to eye-catching prints and posters. I make an effort to ignore the urge, but it's hard. Right now I really need to put the brakes on my habit though, because I currently have three items sitting in poster tubes waiting to be framed.  I love a little lunchtime window shopping online at the Keep Calm Gallery and in December I treated myself to an Eat Your Greens print when I was buying my boyfriend an All You Need Is Love print. I had both custom framed,  because they're a slightly irregular size and I couldn't find a frame to fit in any shops. If the AYNIL one hadn't been a present I reckon they'd both be still sitting in the tube, but I got my butt in gear and EYG has a happy new home on my kitchen wall. The wonderful Christy in Moy Framing (beside the Gate Theatre at the top of O'Connell St. Tel: 01 836 5331) did a great job on them, and it was only €60 to frame the two, which I thought was an excellent price. He also had them done in a day. Then one day I came across a pic of a large move poster in someone's living room and my imagination, as per usual, went into overdrive. I went online and bought oversized (69cm x 102cm) posters for two of my favourite movies, Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire, cause I figure they'll look wonderful framed, sitting side-by-side maybe in the hallway, or near the piano, or maybe in the guest bedroom. I have yet to summon up the energy/funds to have them framed, however, so they are, of course, still in the tube, propped against a wall in my bedroom. Along with, of course, my For Like Ever print that I got in New York, as well as a wee print from La Scala opera house in Milan for the performance of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde that we went to see there in February. Aaaaaaaaany day now...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Curtains for me!

I did an extremely enjoyable curtain making course in Roisin Cross Silks out in Dun Laoghaire this weekend. So so so much fun - I was very excited about it but a little skeptical as to whether I really would be able to learn how to make curtains in a mere two days. Well the wonderful Maedhbh Walsh was such a great teacher that I now feel quietly confident about slowly but surely making curtains for my own house. We learned how to line and interline them, so that they'll make rooms nice and cosy. My first curtain making project will be my bedroom curtains, and as well as the beautiful silks out in RCS I've been taking a look at other fabrics that might work. Since they're still going to be costly, even though I'm making them myself, I'm going to be quite careful about opting for something that will wear well over time, but will be interesting and not all bland and boring. I love the idea of a metallic pattern on a earthy coloured fabric - like the silver-embossed material in the top pic, and that Indian-style brown and copper (though I'm not sure how well that would age from a style point of view) on the middle cushion in the second, both from Osborne and Little.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cranking the nerdy-ness up a notch

I received an Amazon delivery today (always a nice little interlude among the more practical tasks of the day), it's my Martha Stewart Encyclopedia of Crafts. There's loads in there that I want to try, and it's an A-Z so it's seriously comprehensive, containing how-tos on everything from tin punching to these amazing huge paper lanterns, as well as nice wee ideas for gift wrap and tags. On the subject of crafts, I missed Kirstie last night - anyone catch it? I think that they only show their online repeats on PCs and not on Macs, which is a pain.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Paper chasing

I'm like a child in a sweetshop when I'm around lovely stationery, I love pretty cards and paper and notecards. I always have my eye out for more (I'm so greedy, I really am) and I there are some really fab stationery shops and designers on the other side of the Atlantic. My sister-in-law in New York sent me a fab wee postcard as a thank you card a couple of months ago, featuring a map of Florence, and I found out that the company is called Cavallini and they are stocked in four shops in Ireland - Pemberly, Sage & Stone, Concepts and Forget Me Not - but I have no idea where any of those shops are so...that's maybe not so helpful! Anyhow, luckily for me I am heading off to New York on Wednesday, so when I'm there I'll hopefully pay a visit to Kate's Paperie where I might pick up one of these beautiful map wrapping paper designs - if they were in nice frames they would look great on the wall of a study, guest bedroom or landing. I'm also having trouble finding nice magazine files, so I might use this paper to cover some plain ones. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Much sighing and lengthening of wish lists

Anthropologie is one of my favourite shops ever, online or high street, at home or in another country; the only thing that keeps it from the number one spot is that they don't sell food. When we were in New York a couple of weeks ago, that and Target were my only serious shopping destinations. I did spend an inordinate amount of time in Anthropologie (it's so very hard to tear yourself away from the loveliness of it all), and I treated myself to a few wee bits and pieces, like pretty drawer handles, and even a dinky milk jug that I guardedly ferociously in my hand luggage on the way home. The furniture is the epitome of loveliness - the prices, unfortunately, are not. Take, for example, the Terai folding chairs above. Yes, I know they are fab. The price in dollars is the guts of 200, while in euro it's 155.76, and that's before tax or shipping or any of that jazz. Gulp. So, in the spirit of our next issue being the thrift issue, I nabbed some dodgy old fluro green, blue, pink and orange chairs that were in the kitchen in work and tackled them with paint and fabric. Ok - so they don't have the posh-sounding Sheesham wood as bone structure (I painted them in a tasteful grey from Crown), and they may have been staple-gunned to bejaysus with Hickey's finest wadding, but they do have lovely fancy fabrics from Sanderson and Zoffany on em. They'll be on show in all their glory in the next (May/June) issue of H&H, but in the meantime if I get a chance I'll grab a camera and take some pics to pop up.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I want this floor

The fact that you can't buy the new H&M homewares line in Ireland hasn't stopped me from taking a good big nosey gawk at the pics, doing my usual 'hmmm - do I?...would I?...where would I?...' etc etc. Now, it's not what they are actually selling in this shot, but I love this floor. It has a fun breezy, retro look and it would make a fresh and pretty bathroom floor, or a bright kitchen splashback or even to give a  Mediterranean feel to a guest bedroom, like a cutesy family-run guest house in a rustic village. Mmm, holidays... 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Knit knack

I've been meaning to pick up some needles and get knitting for ages. I haven't even attempted to since I knit a stripey jumper when I was in 1st class, which was actually 20 years ago, so perhaps I'm being a tad over-optimistic about my potential as a knitter. Anyhow - I was out in Kildare Village outlets the other day (more of which later) when I spied a very cute knitting roll and knitting bag in Cath Kidston. That was sufficient incentive for me to get going, so I snapped them up and I've been doing a little research on things like books and where to buy wool. On one of my many online searches, I came across This is Knit, an Irish company based in Blackrock and in the Powerscourt Centre. They obviously sell all the necessary paraphernalia, and as well as that they have knitting groups and classes and even some free online patterns . I'm going to head into the Powerscourt shop tomorrow to pick up some supplies and get some advice on where to start. I was going to buy the Vogue Knitting book (according  to the Amazon reviews it's the knitting bible, but to be honest sometimes I'm a bit dubious about those reviews) but I'll wait until I get some expert advice in person and ask lots of questions. I like the look of the toasty hot water bottle cover, but maybe that's a little ambitious. Anyhow, I'll let you know how I get on!