Snug furniture is a perfect fit
A new company in the wilds of Wicklow is offering something unusual – smart, affordable design
Nell Roddy and Conor Kelly, owners of Snug furniture, at home with their dog Frodo. Photograph: Studio AAD
Snug condiment centrepiece, €25
Snug is a new range of covetable Irish-made furniture that is also affordable – a selling point that is music to design lovers’ ears. Nell Roddy and Conor Kelly are the people behind Snug Furniture, which takes is made in Snugboro, in the Glen of Imaal in Co Wicklow.
The couple live at the foot of Lugnaquilla, the county’s highest mountain and one of the highest in Ireland at the northern end of the glen in the western part of the Wicklow Mountains. The glen is also home to the Coolmoney military range used by the Army for tactical manoeuvres and for weapons practice. The night sky is often light up by flares that Nell says “look like fireworks” when the Army are on night manoeuvres.
Partners in business and in life, the duo met in secondary school in Dunlavin. Nell hails from nearby Hollywood, a distance of about seven miles. They bonded over music and were both in bands growing up. Nell was in an “awful” rock band called Lick’er. Conor played in various different incarnations of the same band Denizens of Ilk, playing on a scene where, as he puts it, the “band was the biggest part of the crowd”.
They share the home they’ve built on Conor’s family farm with their sheepdog Frodo. It’s a homestead that has been farmed by Conor’s family since the late 1800s. His grandfather bred the region’s namesake terriers, calling one Snugboro Nell, which has become a running family joke.
As well as dabbling in the music industry, Conor trained as a cabinet maker, learning his craft at Ballymore Eustace-based Country Kitchens, where he spent five years with the upscale company. He also worked overseas in New Zealand and Kenya, where he taught furniture making skills through an organisation called WorldSkills International.
Both fed his love of simple furniture, “design that is functional”, he explains. Nell works as a press officer for Element Pictures, whose recent productions include This Must Be The Place starring Sean Penn and Frances McDormand, and The Guard starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle. She loves good design but can’t afford most of the pieces she likes.
The project was born out of what the couple saw as a market for covetable contemporary furniture at prices that won’t break the bank, “furniture that we would like to have in our home and that we could afford to buy”, as Nell puts it. “There is a huge gap in the middle if you don’t want to buy the entry-level generic pieces but are priced out of the high-end designs,” says Conor. Snug offers a well-designed and Irish-made alternative that allows homeowners to give their space a look that has a point of difference. Their dip-dyed ash collection will put a spring-like pop of pastel colour into any room.
While the economies of scale make it impossible for Irish designers to compete with retail giants such as Ikea, Snug’s pieces are refreshingly competitively priced, especially the accent pieces.
Conor feels design should be for everyone, not just those with deep pockets. He says they’d “rather be busy making a smaller profit than not being busy”. In a market where most Irish furniture designers pitch themselves at the high end, it’s an ethos that will chime with the buying public. Small items start from under €20. Coat hooks and chopping boards start from €15, while a condiment centrepiece costs €25.
They offer three different types of stool ranging in price from a milking stool, €55, to bar stools for €210. Bedside lockers start from €295.
The larger pieces are less competitively priced but their point of difference is that the furniture is made mainly from solid European and Irish ash. A writing desk is €545 and a sideboard that is a pale take on Mondrian costs €565.
They also offer a two metre by one metre kitchen table. The one pictured on their website has a maple top and a painted poplar base, €1,295.
Each piece is made in Snug’s workshop, situated behind their Co Wicklow home, where Conor gets “a great sense of satisfaction from making furniture. The process relaxes me. I love turning a lump of wood on the lathe into something.”
You can buy the designs online or you can commission them to make you a specific piece of furniture or even a kitchen. A client recently asked them to make dip-dye bunk beds for her kids’ rooms.
“The hardest part is trying to get the design part right,” Conor says.