As the country reopens, the independent decor sector is pushing through to give home lovers a wider selection of things to fill their homes with. Here are five shops worth knowing about.
Mid-century marvels in Sandymount
Katherine Deas worked in property development in London, refitting office blocks to make them low-carbon and help reduce their running costs. Workers liked the reworked spaces and that got Deas interested in how much interiors affect our wellbeing.
She is channelling that ethos into her new venture Oriana B, an online furniture and homewares shop specialising in mid-20th century designs alongside contemporary pieces. She has always had a grá for a nice piece of furniture, having bought her first piece, a ladies' writing desk from Austin & Sons in Peckham, with her first pay packet. "Who knows who had it for the 200 years before I bought it? I love that story-telling aspect to antique and vintage pieces."
She hardly uses the desk anymore but insists it is still a lovely thing to look at, and it has moved several countries with her. She and the desk are now installed in Sandymount, in a modern house, from where she runs Oriana B.
The house, a mid-century build sandwiched between two Georgians, prompted her to ask how you might incorporate pieces of history into a contemporary setting and to start buying items that would work in a home such as hers.
“You often see contemporary and vintage furniture in period settings such as Georgian or Victorian homes, where the contrast works beautifully in spaces with extra-lofty ceilings and large windows,” she says. “Yet a lot of us live in 20th-century homes, so how do you work the same pieces into spaces that don’t have the same features?
“Your interaction with your home makes a big difference to how you feel about yourself, so it’s worth investing a small amount to make your space the best it can be for the time being. For me, it’s all about creating flow and as much space as possible, replacing curtains for blinds, removing cornicing (if you are in a modern house) and taking everything out of the room to create as much cubic space as possible before building it up again from scratch, focusing on how you use the room.”
One simple tip is painting the ceiling in Colourtrend’s Artic Blond, which will give a bit of lift irrespective of the wall colour.
Great cabinetry will minimise clutter, she says. A mid-century sideboard, elevated on legs, will give you space and often has smaller dimensions to modern furniture.
Original wood gives interiors depth, so don't be afraid to mix it up, she says. "Pair an Edwardian cabinet with a large neon abstract print and a few plants, to get a combination that will be completely unique."
Deas sources original mid-century furniture from across Scandinavia, Italy and the UK and has expanded into contemporary homewares, including British print designer Kitty McCall, New York ceramicist GroupPartner, British candle maker True Grace and Danish homewares company Madam Stoltz.
During lockdown, she has been shipping homewares through a contactless courier service. While you can normally make an appointment to view much of what’s in stock in her home showroom, she has been providing videos of furniture to customers to give them a better idea of what’s available. Sales have been strong and much of stock pictured has already been sold, but new stock is in transit.
In the meantime, you can steal some of her style by using the paint colours pictured, Specifically Crown's Elle Decoration Forest Vista, Immersed and Satin Lining, Fleetwood Pineneedle, and Dulux Coral Canyon 4, a great shade in east-facing rooms to bring warmth and softness.
Prices range from about €10 to about €1,500 and include talking-point gold palm floor lamps, €390, and fabulous Frida Kahlo vases, €95.
Streets ahead in Harold’s Cross
Husband and wife Ed Donnelly, from Newbridge, Co Kildare, and Laury Poisson, from Bordeaux, met in New York, and it's the city's industrial aesthetic that has inspired their bricks and mortar shop, Home Street Home on the Harold's Cross Road. Donnelly's background is in building engineering while Poisson's is in fashion design. She trained in Paris and worked with Inès de la Fressange and Agnès B in the US, setting up stores for the latter in New York's Union Square and Miami, Florida before coming to Ireland and working for Avoca as general manager of the Suffolk Street store in Dublin.
The couple also travel to India to source stock and have some of their own designs produced there. They had begun working with the hospitality sector before the Covid lockdown, fitting out spaces for the Lyrath Estate, Fallon & Byrne and Fia cafes.
The store features a mix of recycled cabinetry, some in neem wood, a fast-growing tree of the mahogany family, also known as Indian lilac, that's sustainably sourced. This eco ethos applies to much of their stock, which includes a farmhouse dining table (one of their own designs) made from 16ft-long joists and has a curved steel base, from €1,595, to cool anthropomorphic decorative items made in Zimbabwe.
Birds start from €14.95 and some of these, the white ones, are made from materials salvaged from recycled washing machines and dishwashers.
The shop also stocks a number of Irish designers, including Danu ceramics and Rowan Beg candles, and plans to introduce a wholesale arm to supply independent Irish retailers.
Stager and fit-out expert Sinead Palmer moved to Waterford city from London five years ago. It's her husband's home town. He works in the family business, Palmer Auctioneers, and she first flexed her creative muscles by designing holiday home interiors in nearby Dunmore East, while studying interior design at the Dublin Institute of Design.
Opening a shop had always been on the cards but, as a mother to three kids aged between two and six, she had put it on the long finger. That is, until a woman she knew who had a gift shop on The Quay asked her if she might be interested in taking on the space.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” she says. But in truth she’s been collecting stuff with a view to setting up a shop for years, buying in markets and fairs and stashing items away until now. Last month, she opened Nest, an eclectic shop where antique chairs reupholstered in House of Hackney fabrics sit next to contemporary and colourful table lamps.
There are Moroccan rugs repurposed into cool cushions and gorgeous Lisa Corti table linen. "It's about bringing together things I love that I feel will change a space. A simple tablecloth can add so much vibrancy to a room." @nestwaterford
Less is more
If this era of continued travel restrictions has put a stop to you picking up interesting souvenirs from your excursions, check out Orange Complex, an online shop that traverses the globe for you, bringing you exciting finds like some Silk Road traveller. The site was set up by Kildare man Paul Donovan three years ago, inspired by his time working in digital marketing at DoneDeal.
“I was pushing away from the ethos of buying stuff for buying stuff’s sake,” he said, having witnessed the annual post-Christmas sell-off of unwanted gifts.
It gave him the impetus to leave and set up the less-is-more home eshop. It stocks ethical goods from brands such as Baby Tree, whose Pakurigo baskets are made in Ghana and coveted by eagle-eyed buyers at Maison&Objet; Tiny Miracles lampshades made by the Pardeshi community in a very low-income area of Mumbai; bowls made from coconut shells and other talking-point purchases. Plans to open a physical space have been put on hold to see how things pan out post lockdown.
Designs on your old stuff
The circular economy drives Jo Linehan and Caroline Foran of Gaff Interiors' latest brand extension, Gaff Shop, which will appeal to those looking to rehome decor items they've grown out of.
The interior designers and stylists’ new platform is a place where sellers can upload photos of their wares and hope that someone else will see them in a new light. The idea follows the pre-loved fashion model of online portal Vestiaire Collective and of Dublin bricks and mortar shop Siopaella, whose tagline is “unlock the equity in your wardrobe”.
It's a smart idea that will save on driving to the recycle centre and paying for the privilege of someone taking it off your hands or it ending up in landfill. Some may ask how it is different to Done Deal or Adverts.ie, but the girls say they will be scrutinising every item before it goes live to make sure it looks the business. "We're going to be quite strict," Linehan says. There will be a mix of affordable and expensive items, mainly small pieces that will appeal to renters as much as homeowners.