Ballyfin blankets, Sorcha O’Raghallaigh’s star signs: what’s new in interiors

Home front: Wrap up in a luxurious alpaca blanket at Ballyfin, salad days in a coffee cup, Irish design goes to New York

Skirting the issue

An old-fashioned kitchen staple, the fabric curtain was often used under the sink instead of unit doors, particularly in small scullery-style set-ups where there wasn't space to open and close under-counter doors. It's a idea that's having a bit of a revival, with snaps of (small) hipster abodes on social media feeds fuelling its return. For Laura Ashley has gone back to its roots with the way the firm has styled its In The Country Kitchen collection, which features very cool harvest-inspired accessories including pumpkin bowls with lids, €27 each, a pumpkin tureen, €68, an acorn-shaped storage jar, €42, a wire egg basket, €23, and a retro grey tin bread bin, €42. They are available at Laura Ashley, Blanchardstown and at the concession within House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre.

Star buy

Fashion designer Sorcha O'Raghallaigh knows how to make a statement dress. Her gunas have graced Beyoncé and Lady Gaga and now she's channelling the age of Aquarius and wants you to nail your birth sign to your wall. Her limited-edition star sign illustrations launch next Thursday, August 16th, at Ukiyo Lounge, CHC Building, Dame Lane, Dublin 2. The A4-size artworks are signed, numbered and printed on fine-art-grade paper. They cost €100 each and would make a lovely gift.

From seeds to salad days

Are you one of the many grow-your-own procrastinators out there? If so, the good people at The Phoenix Cafe, at Ashtown Castle in Dublin's Phoenix Park, are throwing you a lifeline that will get you out of your fug by making it that little bit easier to get started.

For the next few weeks, or as long as stocks last, they are serving up a free book of seed sticks with every morning cuppa they sell.


The seed sticks make planting fuss-free. They also mean you don’t have to get your hands as dirty. You just peel a ‘stick’ from a small compostable design that resembles a match book, and push it into a small pot of soil or compost, set it on a windowsill, water and wait about 60 days for it to deliver a baby gem lettuce that is the mainstay of the classic Caesar salad.

The idea is just the latest germination from owner Helen Cunningham's son, Scott Holder, a man she frogmarched into the cafe to work after he had dropped out of not one but two construction courses.

After learning the ropes at the D7 establishment, he went on to work at esteemed restaurants Momofuku Seiobo, Sydney, State Bird Provisions in San Francisco and the now-closed Arbutus, London.

He’s currently constructing a kitchen in a food truck he imported from the States and hopes to be serving delicious tidbits from it within a couple of months and may even give us some cool ideas for compact kitchens along the way.

In that same time, you should be harvesting your first crop of home-grown baby gems.

Crafty in NY

The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland has announced that seven Irish design and craft businesses have been selected to join the Design Ireland booth in the Accent on Design® area at NY NOW® 2018 from August 12th-15th.

The Design Ireland booth will showcase the best in contemporary Irish design and craft and introduce them to the US marketplace. The fair will offer selected Irish brands the opportunity to connect with new and existing customers as well as key members of the press attending the show.

The seven brands representing the emerald isle in the Design Ireland booth include: award-winning jewellery designer Bláithín Ennis; Diem Pottery & Design Studio, makers of stylish, yet functional ceramics; Field Apothecary, which specialises in essential oil candles; Foxford Woollen Mills; printmaker Jando; contemporary cut-crystal designers J HILL's Standard; and artisan homeware creator SLATED.

This year marks the third time Irish designers and makers will present at the trade show on behalf of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland. The Design Ireland booth secured the accolade of Best Curation in this area of NY NOW® 2017. Irish brands such as Inis – the Energy of the Sea fragrances – and Avoca Handweavers will exhibit elsewhere at NY NOW® 2018.

NY NOW® 2018 is at the Javits Convention Center, New York, from tomorrow, August 12th, to Wednesday August 15th.

Cosy up at Ballyfin

Ballyfin, the five-star country house hotel in Co Laois has added an extra touch of luxury for guests as autumn creeps in. Residents can now wrap up in gorgeous alpaca blankets courtesy of Irish company Ketzal Blanket, run by Audrey Brennan. The company imports fine double-sided blankets in soft wools and reversible shades. Brennan worked with Ballyfin general manager Daniel Bastiat to create a new design – in reversible pale blue and white – which guests lucky enough to stay in the Lady Caroline Coote blue suite (from about €1,495 per night) will find when they check in. Should they be unable to part with the supersoft blanket, it can be purchased from Ballyfin, or from for €385. Meanwhile, the best-selling blanket in the range continues to be Ketzal's hot pink and orange reversible blanket (also €385).