Andrea Horan’s totally tropical Portobello home

The Tropical Popical salon co-owner, who shares a home with the artist Maser, finds kitsch hard to resist

Andrea Horan is the founder, with her sister Michelle, of Tropical Popical in Sth William Street, Dublin, the funky nail salon which hit the headlines when Saoirse Ronan, a regular customer, famously got news of her Golden Globe nomination in January 2016. The salon, with its zany interior and colourful decor, set new standards in Dublin at the time with its innovative approach to nail design and some 700 different coloured varnishes on offer.

Well known for her “tacky and Miami” 80s aesthetic, Horan has in recent years become an activist having set up a not-for-profit venture called The Hunreal Issues through her belief in “all those issues that us huns should be knowin’ and caring about . . . things that affect your life”.

Her latest campaign is Repealing Fashion, an event she has organised with 17 Irish fashion designers taking place on May 10th in Atrium in Powerscourt. She also occasionally performs as a drag artist and will be appearing at a fundraising concert for the Together for Yes campaign in the Olympia on May 2nd. She lives in Portobello where she shares a house with the artist Maser.

Describe your interiors style

I would say it is very eclectic and tropical – full of bamboo, Hawaiian and botanical prints and very colourful. Every room has a nod to that style, except for my bedroom. I have always lived in a room that was very cluttered and I wanted this bedroom to be different, to be very calm and spartan, so all the walls are white with white polka dots. It’s quite a statement and is so unlike me it was a big compromise for myself.


Which room do you most enjoy?

I kind of love different rooms for different reasons. If I am in a party mood, the room downstairs is great for parties and has a boat drinks bar, a big table and a music system. I got the boat bar in Anonymous in Francis Street – it’s a real kitsch item. The room is like the heart of the house and we hang out there a lot. It also has my office desk, so loads of shit gets done there too.

What items do you love most?

The two things I love most are a unicorn head which is like a stag's head from Dust – it's vegan taxidermy and I have mounted it on a wall. The other recent purchase is a Matthew Williamson feather floor lamp which is like a tree of feathers and quite spectacular – I got it in Arnotts. And I love my Ursula doll which is in one of these bell jars and she watches over the room.

Who are your favourite designers?

I suppose all the designers I have organised for Fashion is Repealing. I would consider them the cream of Irish designers. I wear Natalie B Coleman, and Helen Steele custom made a leopard print dress and Margaret O'Connor created a leopard print turban for me. For interiors I love Woodchip & Magnolia, a UK company which has really strong wallpapers with bold print. We used the Monstera print wallpaper in Tropical Popical on every wall.

Who are your favourite artists?

I love bold, bright design – it's about confidence and I love modern pop art, contemporary work. I love all Maser's work – I live with him. Peter Doyle is a young Irish artist with no formal training who doesn't stick to the rules and makes his own interpretation of his look and art. Leah Hewson is another artist I admire who is bold and confident. She was a resident at the RHA and I came across her work when I did a study tour there. There is a control to her work with pattern that seems deceptively out of control – that appeals to me.

Biggest interior turn off?

When you see people moving into a house they have fully decorated beforehand and it is all white and crystal lampshades and crystal everywhere. It is nouveau Ireland. How do you feel cosy in such places? I like to grow in a house and add things as I grow.

Destination that stands out?

Anywhere with a beach – Tulum in Mexico. Italy every time; Basilicata in the heel of Italy between the toe and the heel. I love the Palazzo Margherita in Bernalda where Sofia Coppola got married – it belongs to her father, Francis Ford Coppola, and mixes traditional Italian decor with American-standard customer service.

If you had €100,000 to spend on any one item for the house, what would that be?

I am not really driven by big expensive pieces so I would have a monthly allowance for bamboo furniture or Italian-style furniture from the House of Italy in Coolock which is so Versace and over the top – everything is gilded – fab.

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan is Irish Times Fashion Editor, a freelance feature writer and an author