The art of making a rental look like home
Cork artist Kady Berry shares her tips on how to turn a bland rental into a home with character
Kady Berry with her curtains made from Ikea table cloths. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Cork artist Kady Berry studied fashion design in the Mallow College of Design and Tailoring where she won the Design Student of the Year award. After graduating in 2006, she did a stint with Topshop in the UK, before returning home to study photography and work as a fashion illustrator. While experimenting with textures and mark making, Berry stumbled upon encaustic art (paintings created with layers of wax). “Something just clicked and I knew I had found my medium, so I quit the day job two years ago and have been focusing on encaustic full time since.” She lives in Cork city, with husband Luke and their nine-month-old daughter Ophelia (born before the storm!).
Describe your interiors style
I like the house to feel bright and clean. I’m not one for clutter. I keep the backdrop quite plain and bring personality in through the art, furniture and textiles. There’s a definite Scandinavian influence but I wouldn’t say I stick to any one style. We’ve always rented and got stuck in the habit of buying specifically for that house rather than buying what we really loved. We’re trying to stop that now and invest in pieces we can take with us wherever we go.
Have you any tips for making a rental feel like home?
I like to view renting as a challenge. We’ve always rented unfurnished and have been very lucky with our landlords too as they tend to give us a lot of freedom.
The first thing I did when we moved in was to replace all of the curtains and lampshades. It’s a quick and easy way to make a place feel more like your own. I put Ikea Krusning lampshades up in every room and I made all curtains and blinds from tablecloths I got in Ikea too. The house was magnolia from top to bottom when we moved in, so we painted most of the rooms white, which works well as a backdrop for my painting too. The bedrooms have built in wardrobes over the bed which are my worst nightmare. So, I covered them in a sticky vinyl which took hours but it was worth it.
Which room do you most enjoy and why?
I think it would have to be my daughter’s room. It’s probably for sentimental reasons but I just love the way it feels when we’re in there. We spend so much time sitting at the window or hunched on the floor playing and I had a lot of fun when decorating it. I appreciate it even if she doesn’t. Yet.
What items do you love the most and why?
I bought our bed in a second-hand shop years ago. It’s solid wood and it only cost €100. I painted it up and it’s one of few pieces that has stayed with us wherever we’ve gone.
My dad gave me all of his old records which are really special and getting them finally made us invest in a decent sound system which we use every day.
Who is your favourite designer?
I adore the work of textile designers Timorous Beasties. Their modern take on classic themes and attention to detail are truly inspiring to me. I don’t own any of their pieces yet but one day I’m going to make myself a pair of curtains from one of their gorgeous fabrics.
Your favourite gadget or machine?
I think it would have to be my MagiMix Processor. I use it every day.
Which artist do you most admire?
Robert Rauschenberg. The first time I saw his work in the flesh was in the Met in New York. I had been studying him in college and I found it quite emotional. There’s a depth there you just don’t get from a page. I’m fascinated by the way he thought and how he approached his work. My husband bought me one of his prints for our one-year wedding anniversary and it’s one of my most treasured pieces.
The biggest interiors turn-off for you?
Matching chunky wooden furniture. Actually, any matching furniture set.
Your favourite travel destination and why?
Copenhagen. I’ve been five times now and I never get tired of it. It has an infectious atmosphere and there is design everywhere. It seems to be in the very fabric of their culture. I’m already planning my next trip.
What does home mean to you?
I used to put a lot of emphasis on having a nice house and making it feel like a home. Maybe it’s getting older, or since having my daughter, but I really don’t think that is as important now. It may sound cheesy but it’s the people that make the home not the things.
Any tips on keeping things organised/tidy?
I’d been using the dining room as my studio but it got too messy and I can’t cope with mess – so I’m in the process of moving all my kit into our spare bedroom. And it turns out those awful built-in wardrobes I mentioned are actually ideal for studio storage. They are full of smaller storage boxes, all of which are carefully labelled so I can find everything easily. I bought a kitchen trolley from Ikea and that holds all of my wax blocks, paints and the equipment I use regularly. Hooks, shelves and baskets are hanging everywhere and are great ways to make use of dead or awkward spaces. For everything else, there’s vacuum-pack bags.