Saturday, December 10, 2011


Making a special appearance as the gazillionth item on my home shopping wishlist is the latest design from the talented creator of the Taika range for Iittala. I lusted after Taika teacups for God knows how long after we featured them in a shoot in our Jan/Feb 2008 issue. I was like a child in a Dickens novel with my nose pressed up against the window of Inreda on Camden Street. When I saw them on sale a couple of months ago I figured that if I still loved something that much after a year then surely I could treat myself to a couple of teacups (and a bowl, couldn't resist). And now, joy of joys, the talented designer Klaus Haapaniemi who designed the Taika range has created the summer equivalent of that wintry design - Satumetsa, which, I am told, is a Finnish word meaning Fairytale Forest. I don't think that I can even wait for the sales to nab these beauties. 


Ceadogán rugs are Irish designs to be extremely proud of. We borrowed some to use in the location shoot in the current issue and it was so sad to be giving them back at the end of the day - you can quite literally feel the quality when you sink your toes into that deliciously thick and soft wool. Anyhow, since I have to concentrate on the more fundamental aspects of decorating when I eventually move into my new home, a Ceadogán purchase will be a long way off, but I intend to be patient and prudent and some day I will be a lucky owner. They engage in some really interesting collaborations, and they have just announced that they are teaming up with TRIPOD III to celebrate the Galway stop-over of the Volvo Ocean Race this May by producing eleven custom designed, handmade rugs based on a nautical theme. The collection is called Yarn and Sail unite and will be on display in the Radisson SAS, Lough Atalia Road, Galway from Thursday 8th May until Monday 8th June. Above are sketches of the designs Binary, Currents and Tidal Chart.

A very exciting purchase!

Ah yes, this is what a combination of age and home ownership do to you, apparently - I am very excited about the curtain fabric that I bought this afternoon to make my bedroom curtains with. I had picked up some swatches in Murphy Sheehy in Castlemarket on Saturday afternoon and I was mulling over them for a few days. When I went to have a pre-auction browse in Buckleys this afternoon I decided to take another look in the MS Dun Laoghaire outpost, and I walked out half an hour later with my fabric, lining and interlining. Never one to go for the safe option, I chose a rich and crafty-looking William Morris print with a complementary pink stripe for the lining.
This is the William Morris fabric, by Fabric Freedom, which is actually a dress fabric. It's quite a traditional design, and there's also a lot going on there, so the basic palette for the room will be soft and neutral - I'll sand down the floorboards and use a soft, light grey on the walls. I'll also want to make sure that it all doesn't end up looking a bit traditional and overly country-ish, so I want to add an industrial-style touch somewhere, hopefully with some cool lighting.

I decided to opt for a striped lining to make the curtains a little unusual, and also to somehow clean up that busy traditional you see where I'm going with this one?!...I'm not sure if that makes sense - but then, to quote Picasso: "The chief enemy of creativity is 'good' sense".

Aren't they pretty together? Clearly I do not subscribe to the old dictum of keeping your curtain fabric neutral, blah blah blah - rules schmules! This will be my first proper curtain making project...I really really really hope I don't screw up!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rad rage

Renovating a house: you start out all 'oh myyyy house won't have ugly things, my house will be PERFECT'. When you began, you had pictures of lovely homes, and you flicked through them on a regular basis, going 'oh my house will look like this - only NICER'. You sniff at the tiniest details that offend your inexplicably high standards (how did someone who grew up as the youngest of five children in Longford in the 80s come to have such snooty notions about solid wooden floors and fancy tiles anyhow?) and tut over the apparent lack of attention to detail. And then everything starts to happen VERY QUICKLY. Large numbers are bandied about and you gulp as you realise that this is actual real money and these numbers are no longer hypothetical sums that you may or may not have to/want to/need to spend, but actual euros that you have to make note of in your ever dwindling budget and you need to make decisions NOW. There are precious euros to be spent on practical (generally ugly) things that aren't that much fun but you can't live without, like boilers and toilets and radiators. Nice invisible underfloor heating? HA HA HA HA HA HA. But, y'know, these days there are really lovely radiators available. After seeing some lovely, lovely, lovely pics of rads in a house (due to be featured in the next issue of H&H) you get your hopes up and then start gabbling about them at the plumber, and then he makes the very rational and logical point that would make your life a whole lot simpler if you would only think of it every time you saw something lovely for sale and started poking in your bag for your wallet: "but they're expensive". Sigh. And then you resign yourself to being sensible and ponder the fact that maybe, at last, you're Growing Up.

And they photoshop out radiators in houses in magazines all the time anyhow. *Grumpy sniff*

They are lovely though. The black one in the pic on the top is from Victorian Salvage, and then the others are by Acova, which you can buy at B&Q. If you can afford them.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Knock knock

Oooo, I have been neglecting my blog this week - in my defence, we're in production with the September/October issue and I am up to my tonsils. Anyhow, excuses aside, I got shots in of a front of house makeover and I thought that I would share cause it's just lovely and cheery and shiney and new. It's amazing what a bit of hard work, some paint and good accessories can do. Ciara's shiny red door is painted in Sandtex paint, and the cool cool COOL number is by Lyshna. Want one of those for my house, I can't wait to get cracking on the front of it - but there is so so so much to do before then.

Now - the lovely owner of this house is a pal of mine, and I actually lived there for a year. It's up for rent and while she doesn't unfortunately have any pics at the mo I can vouch for its loveliness - check out her ad on

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Still life

I have to say, I find these pics extremely calming, a modern soothingly-shaded still life perfect for creating a little calm on a blustery Monday morning. These pieces are from the Tonale collection by architect David Chipperfield for Alessi, who have just opened a new concession in Brown Thomas. It's a very broad range of tableware in enamelled steel, glass, earthenware and wood, in a selection of these beautiful soft shades for creating an easy mix and match, pick em up here and there sort of collection.

Tasty rich colour

Someone was asking me about an apartment that we featured in the September/October 2007 issue; it's one of my favourite out of all of the homes we have featured. Anthony, who owns it, has wonderful taste in both art and furniture. He bought a lot of his furniture from the sadly missed 20th Century Furniture, Olivia Delaney's wonderful vintage furniture store that was a concession in the Habitat store. Much of the art came from The Stone Gallery. I just love the colours in this apartment - the rich purples and chocolates are so inviting, and aren't too overbearing thanks to the lovely cool tones of the marble tiles. I thought that I'd dig out the pics so that I could share the love - enjoy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lovely leftovers

When we feature houses, there are always lots of gorgeous shots left over that we just didn't have room to print in the mag. It's such a shame to leave out some of the lovely details in our readers' homes, so I thought I'd share some with you. These pics are from the home of Olive Power, which was featured in our November/December 2008 issue - such an inviting kitchen, it's no surprise to hear that Olive is a wonderful cook with a glorious garden!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stacks o style

When I was racking my brains to think of someone for Little Black Book for the latest issue, I felt like a bit of an eejit when I finally hit on the idea of asking our stylist Eleanor Harpur - duh! She has fabulous taste and she knows where to go, so she was an obvious choice. One of the shops she mentioned that I am dying to check out is an online one called Volksfaden that I've never heard of before. Anyhow, I'm scouting around for lots of fabric at the moment as we're doing some projects for our next issue, and they have some really fresh and quirky designs. I have to say, I've always been more of a fabric person than a wallpaper person, but I am (as with most things) incredibly indecisive, so I love their fabric packs and fabric stacks. Fabric packs are filled with about 1.25 metre of fabric pieces that will work for small projects, and the fabric stack contains six different pieces of fabric from one of their fabric collections - such a fun package to get in the post!

€1.5 million euro to spare, anyone?

Spotted in yesterdays Irish Times property section: Lisa McNulty's gorgeous redbrick home for sale for €1.5 million. If  I owned this house I think I'd just never leave. I'd stay indoors all day and listen to Lyric FM and hide from the recession.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sneaky Ikea preview

It's the moment that, well, not all of us, but definitely quite a large number of curious Irish shoppers have been waiting for: the opening of the Dublin branch of Ikea. I went to a press preview this morning, and it was great to get a poke around while the store was calm and orderly because I doubt it'll stay that way for long. And the verdict's Ikea! It's the same as any other Ikea only it's just up the road. Looking at the pics I took, it's hilarious really that they could have been taken in any other Ikea around the world. Not that I'm dissing it, we all love a good Ikea fix, and their price points are fantastic - finally, inexpensive furniture and home essentials for Irish shoppers. I came home with a few bits myself; I love the latest PS range so I got the cool Spraka pepper mill and the lovely Vadmal throw, as well as glasses (I don't have any regular ones and I've been drinking my morning juice out of Waterford Crystal champagne glasses, ahem) and candles. I won't be rushing back to kit my house out with their furniture to be honest, but it's always comforting to know that there's a selection of attractive furniture at a fair price if I'm stuck for anything, rather than having to fork out a fortune in desperation. The store opens this coming Monday, July 27th, and while Ikea usually open new branches on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday, this time they have chosen a Monday in order to preempt any potential chaos. Opening hours are from 11am (in order to avoid peak traffic time lunacy) to 10pm, and you have to pay for parking between the hours of 4pm and 8pm (so if you come after 4 but before 8 you pay, if you come before 4 but you leave between 4 and 8 you have to pay) and it's a flat rate of €3. Local delivery starts at €30 (but it wasn't entirely clear as to what their actual definition of local is?) and they have a clever van hire service that would make a lot of sense if you are keen to have your furniture home in your own time, rather than waiting for delivery people. There were prices here and there; a lot of prices compared favourably with the sterling prices, but then there were a few items that I saw that were hiked up a bit - somehow, I still think that Irish shoppers are going to take to Ikea like (flatpack-happy) ducks to (extremely inexpensive, if not entirely calm) water.

The old familiar Ikea roomsets

The lovely PS collections are always worth the little bit extra that they cost

Kitchens have always cost a lot here, so a lot of people will really appreciate the cheap n cheerful Ikea option

As my dad would say - who'd be without one at that price?!

I had serious flatpack fatigue by the time I got this far... I re-fuelled with some crazy Swedish food!