Give your home the Turkington touch and light up darker nights

Helen Turkington opens a sumptuous showroom in Sandyford; and Fantasy Lights will brighten autumn gloom

What with its cafe-society Cathedral Quarter and its booming tourism scene, Belfast has been revamping itself as a style capital for some time. From this weekend, however, the city is set to look even smarter. The spanking new €32 million Titanic Hotel will find visitors reclining in the lap of luxury while enjoying views of the iconic Harland and Wolff shipyard gantries; meanwhile, another historic city-centre building, the 1875 Ormeau Bakery, has been given a €750,000 design makeover.

Transformed into a flagship store for Neptune Belfast, the former bakery now shows off not bread and cakes but the mouthwatering collection of furniture, fittings, accessories and lighting from the high-end international company. The ground floor has been transformed into a series of room settings while the building's 19th-century facade, landmark clock and many of its original features have been preserved. To celebrate its official opening, Neptune Belfast is hosting an open-house "housewarming" event this weekend. The public is invited to explore the new store and consult the on-site team of kitchen designers, interior designers and textile experts. The shop at 315 Ormeau Road is open today from 9.30am to 5.30pm, and tomorrow from 1pm-5pm.

Major panic

"If you'd come last week you'd have seen boxes everywhere, and us having a major panic," says Helen Turkington. There's no sign of panic now at the designer's serene new retail space in Sandyford. Its eight-room settings offer an Aladdin's cave through which visitors can wander at their leisure, absorbing the soft layerings of colour and texture with which Turkington builds up her contemporary classic style, while the walls of the walk-in fabric "library" show off generous swatches of the exclusive curtain and upholstery fabrics on which her signature look is based.

Each room setting is finished in one of Turkington’s own paint colours; some are panelled, too, giving them a really solid, luxurious feel. The fabrics are all in stock – and they’re not as expensive as they look. “Everything is below €50 a metre – that’s our selling point,” Turkington says, indicating a pair of elegant ivory curtains that are as soft to the touch as cashmere.


“This is a man-made fabric – but it’s the way they’re made up, interlined and braided. That makes a huge difference to the way they hang. It really does.”

The shop, which has been a year in the planning, complements the upstairs studio, which Turkington opened for her project-based clients and, of course, her original premises at Dunville Avenue in Ranelagh.

“The downstairs space here in Sandyford is a walk-in service,” she says. “You can grab stuff and go. You can take the accessories with you. We had no retail before, just room settings – and people would say, ‘Can I buy that hurricane?’ We’d say, ‘Well, not really, because you’ll ruin our display’.”

Now those accessories are available to buy – vases, cushions, candles, bookends and much more besides – so you can give your home the Turkington touch. "In terms of interior decor, people are very educated these days – but there are very mixed messages going out at the moment," she says. "Our look really is about texture rather than too much colour. Even so, bottle green is big for us this year. We're all green mad at the moment. And terracotta, orange – old-fashioned colours – are on the way back for next year. " The new shop is at 58 Spruce Avenue, Stillorgan.

Brighten up your days

Darkness is descending upon us earlier and earlier on these autumn evenings, so it's a good time to think about brightening up your lighting arrangements. Life the mood in a particular room or add sparkle with crystal chandeliers. The new Fantasy Lights showroom on Braemor Road in Churchtown, Dublin, will have some suggestions to take you all the way from inspiration to installation. Designed by Chris Dewar-Dixon and his company Four IV – which has created interiors for Harvey Nichols stores from Hong Kong to Doha, as well as Burberry, Armani and the East India Company – the showroom opens with living area lighting, moving seamlessly through bathroom and kitchen to garden lighting at the back of the 2,400sq ft space. Alongside their own collections Fantasy Lights stocks some of the top names in lighting design, including Schuller, Elstead, Marquis by Waterford, Konstsmide and Elipta.

"In what is a one-stop destination, we have a specialist energy advice centre and our unique advice, design, supply and install service, which takes care of the full lighting process," says Fantasy Lights founder Gabriel Byrne.