The Buddhist guide to interiors and time for a fresh coat of paint

Home Front: Make a new year’s resolution to freshen up your home

The drawing room in Mackintosh House, Glasgow: The exquisite interiors from the Victorian end-of-terrace house Charles Rennie Mackintosh remodelled in 1906 have been lovingly reassembled.

Brush up your walls

When the year turns, our minds often turn to what we might do to give our interiors a new lease of life. You know how it goes. A couple of weeks ago you rearranged everything in your living space to make room for the festive decorations. It was all splendidly merry and bright – but with the New Year approaching fast, you know when you take down the tree, remove the swags and despatch the cards to the recycling, your walls are going to look incredibly bare and sad.

Embrace that sadness. It’s the interiors equivalent of cutting back your garden in autumn, and a great time to take a hard look at your basic shapes, textures and structures – and how you might remodel them.

The next step, given that funds are usually in short supply at this time of year, is to work out what you can actually afford to do. A new website can help. It's called and it offers a painting calculator tool. Select your type of property, insert your dimensions and they'll send you back a quote. Run by Shay Lally, whose father Jimmy began to serve his time as a painter in Stoneybatter, Dublin, in 1957, also offers colour consultancy, painting and decorating services, paperhanging and general house refurbishment, with a team of designers, quantity surveyors and construction managers on hand to get your project on the road.


Cleaning the house . . . and mind

What would a Buddhist monk know about housework? Plenty, it turns out. A monk's day begins with cleaning; every morning, they sweep their grounds and gardens and polish the main temple hall. "We don't do this because it's dirty or messy," explains Shoukei Matsumoto in his tiny but perfectly formed Japanese bestseller, A Monk's Guide To A Clean House and Mind. "We do it to eliminate the gloom in our hearts."

What Marie Kondo did for decluttering, this beguiling little book aims to do for cleaning. Matsumoto trips through the house like a breath of fresh air, offering tips – "clean lamps, clean soul"; "repair, don't replace"; and "don't put it off until tomorrow" – practical advice about baking soda, space-saving Japanese stacking bowls, and how to deal with insects (it not being very Zen to suck spiders up into the hoover). The final chapter is devoted to spring cleaning: "a way to clear your mind of all the grime that has accumulated over the course of the year . . ." Now, doesn't that sound like a plan? A Monk's Guide To A Clean House and Mind is published by Penguin at €6.

Glasgow celebrates Mackintosh

For anyone interested in the history of architecture, 2018 is a great year to organise a visit to Glasgow. The city intends to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the iconic architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh in a big way. A major exhibition at Kelvingrove Art Gallery from March 30th will include stained glass, ceramics, metalwork, embroidery and stencilling, with many works which have never been on public display.

There’ll be a symposium at the Glasgow School of Art; the Mackintosh Festival in October will have a special programme; there’ll be architectural walking tours of the city; and more events are being added all the time.

A must for any visitor to the city, of course, is a tour of the Mackintosh House at the Hunterian Art Gallery. The exquisite interiors from the Victorian end-of-terrace house Mackintosh remodelled in 1906 – demolished in the early 1960s due to subsidence – have been lovingly reassembled and furnished with the furniture he designed, including his trademark high-back chairs, an extraordinary mahogany writing cabinet and light fittings made from silver-plated brass with leaded glass.

For further information on the full programme for 2018, see

Arminta Wallace

Arminta Wallace

Arminta Wallace is a former Irish Times journalist