Aisling’s ideal home: ‘Conservatories? They’re very Protestant’

The star of the bestselling novels would love ‘a utility room the size of Croke Park, and a hot press full of Francis Brennan sheets’

Aisling: ‘I’ve never had even a screw left over after putting together something from Ikea.’ Illustration: Lauren O’Neill

Aisling: ‘I’ve never had even a screw left over after putting together something from Ikea.’ Illustration: Lauren O’Neill

 

Now that you’re back home living with Mum, it must be a big change from having your own place?
It is, but I can’t complain. As much as I loved living in Dublin with Sadhbh and Elaine, it wasn’t all plain sailing. I was forever biting my tongue watching them turn on the tumble dryer for a single pair of tights or throwing unrinsed milk cartons into the recycling bin. Elaine didn’t have much time for my tasteful wall decals or decorative cushions either. She never said anything of course, but I often caught her muttering “live love laugh” and creasing herself laughing. I miss all the wine and chats though. And not being interrogated daily about my white washing.

Are there any design changes you’d like to introduce?
I’d describe Mammy’s aesthetic as country chic. Apart from the time the Dublin girls came down, and she repainted the outside of the house and bought the entire Considered by Helen James range from Dunnes, she hasn’t done any decorating since the mid-90s. There’s a lot of pine. Sauna levels of it. I think the kitchen could benefit from a lick of paint – I believe grey is very in at the moment – and some nice scented candles in the sitting room could be very elegant. There’s no end of choice now that the local garden centre has rebranded itself as a lifestyle destination and stocks Max Benjamin as well as the entire Orla Kiely homewares range. I have my eye on a tea caddy for Christmas.

One day hopefully you’ll find your own place, what would your dream interiors aesthetic be?
I used to be dead set on building a small mansion outside Ballygobbard but my head was turned by Dublin, to be honest. You can’t beat the speed of the broadband. My main priority would still be a utility room the size of Croke Park though, so handy for mucky shoes and coats and storing large quantities of spuds. A conservatory was always on my wishlist too until Mammy pointed out they’re very Protestant as well as hard to heat. I’d be more than happy with a nice three-bed in close proximity to the N7 with a hot press full of Francis Brennan sheets. But despite my innate frugality and evangelical use of loyalty cards I don’t think I’ll ever be able to save enough for a deposit.

Top interiors ‘notions
Designer paints. Did you know your local hardware shop can colour match?

Drinks trolley. Your heart would be broken dusting them and anyway nobody needs more than one type of gin. The country is gone berserk for it.

Exposed filament light bulbs. Peak cafe notions.

Colour coding bookshelves. Maeve Binchy would turn in her grave, and rightly so.

Abstract art. It wouldn’t be for me now.

Favourite interiors looks
I can’t resist a bit of shabby chic; it reminds me of my granny’s house. My prized possession is a patchwork quilt she made for me before she died.

I love a dresser in a kitchen, even better if you have some nice pottery to show off. Nicholas Mosse is a favourite of mine and my long-term goal is to own his entire Old Rose range.

A cheeky fridge magnet is a welcome addition. Something like “Keep calm and drink wine” screams classy yet fun.

Hygge or Hickeys?
I had to Google Hygge if I’m being honest and it does look fierce cosy but you can’t beat Hickeys for a bargain on fabric for a debs dress or a pair of curtains. Mammy made my debs dress out of leftover curtain fabric actually and it was gorgeous I have to say, and very unique although I do blend in with the couch a bit in the photos. It wasn’t a patch on Siobhán Halpin’s dress now. She had a long skirt that she was able to take off to reveal a short skirt for the dancing. Very Rose of Tralee. I hear she’s living in New York now so she was always destined for glamour. Anyway, it’s Hickeys all the way for me, although I must get a pair of those Hygge slippers for the winter for when Mammy starts rationing the heating oil.

Glass box extension or separate kitchen and dining room?
There’s something extremely elegant about a separate dining room, and how else are you supposed to elevate your fancy meals – Sunday roast or Christmas for instance – apart from traipsing from the kitchen to the dining room with plates and cutlery and salt and pepper and everything else? It’s tradition. Open plan living spaces are all the rage I suppose though. I saw a family on Nationwide and the whole bottom of their house is open plan. Will they not have each other killed? Ideally I’d have the big extension but then maybe a bit of a dining room tucked away for special occasions and the good tablecloth.

Would Dermot Bannon be a style influence?
Oh, he’s magic altogether. The dream would be to have Starchitect Bannon coming into your house to give the whole place an overhaul. Imagine the utility room and the windows. You’d have to keep an eye on him though or he’d have you bankrupt with dear cushions and reclaimed ESB poles.

Ikea. Discuss
My own personal claim to fame is that I’ve never had even a screw left over after putting together something from Ikea, and everything they have is so stylish. I have my own Allen key and all. Majella is such a hames she once fell asleep on a display bad with a raging hangover. I had to go against the arrows in the shop to wake her up. I was mortified.

Tips for entertaining guests?
Create a napkin experience by simply fluffing them out and putting them in wine glasses.

Put out loads of coasters so they simply can’t miss them. Cover the table with them if you have to.

Open only one bag of notions crisps at a time or they’ll make absolute beasts of themselves.

Keeping up with the Joneses? Would you?
Well, you’d be worn out trying to keep up with Una Hatton across the road and her fresh cut flowers and her paté and her Ballymaloe Relish. I’ve been known to keep a jar in the fridge in the event of any unexpected guests, just to be on the safe side. Nothing says “la di da” like a jar of Ballymaloe Relish.

The Importance of Being Aisling and Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling are written by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen and published by Gill Books

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