Pieces of me: Caroline Foran, interiors entrepreneur

‘I’m choosing bits and bobs that will still be relevant when fads die down ’

Caroline Foran in her home in Drumcondra, Dublin. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Lifestyle journalist and interiors entrepreneur Caroline Foran runs GAFFInteriors.ie with fellow journalist Jo Linehan; it's a dedicated interiors site and social platform for "people like us who want to create cool living spaces but who've more dash than cash".

How would you describe your interiors style?

I used to love French style and the shabby chic vibe, but now I feel allergic to fuss and gravitate towards the Scandinavian aesthetic: clean, simple but super-cosy. I’ve always been interested in interiors trends, the same way I’d be taken by fashion trends, but I’ve learned not to approach interiors in the same way you do your wardrobe, as something disposable. When I first moved into this home, my immediate reflex was to plunder

Items in Caroline Foran’s home in Drumcondra. Photograph: Dave Meehan
Items in Caroline Foran’s home in Drumcondra. Photograph: Dave Meehan


, and buy every copper accessory going as it was the cool metal last year. However, I’ve since developed Ikea-itis and I’m already bored with copper, so I really try to step back from trendy buys, and make sure I’m choosing bits and bobs that will still be relevant when the fad inevitably dies down. I’m relatively young and my interiors style is still evolving but for now I’m a classic Pinterest kid.


Where do you shop for bargain interiors finds?

It’s always nice to find one-off pieces at markets and salvage yards, especially if it’s proper vintage, but I can’t speak highly enough of the high street: just look at what they’ve done for fashion in the past 20 years and they’re only really getting started with interiors. It’s so satisfying buying a €50 lamp from zarahome.com that looks like it’s straight out of

Mad Men


Dunnes Stores

Home has upped its game no end: I picked up a set of white marble

Helen James

table mats, which could pass for a punchy Harrods buy, on sale for €15.


. com is another site I’m obsessed with, as they style everything so well; it gives lots of ideas of how a piece could work in your place, and it’s reasonably priced. Likewise, H&M Home is great for cheap cushion covers and knick knacks and ZinZan.ie, an Irish site, has durable Eames-inspired chairs and tables from €50.

For more permanent pieces, I keep an eye on the Meadows & Byrne sales announcements like a hawk. I’ve bought loads of key pieces here: a vintage-style leather couch, an armchair, the dining table, and I’ve managed to get every single one at a knock-down price. I love an opportunity to brag about how cheap they were; such an Irish thing. Lastly, CA Design in Dublin 6 isn’t technically cheap, but considering the superior quality of the furniture, it feels like you’re getting a bargain. I could go in there blindfold and pick out anything and be confident I’d love it when I got it home and opened it.

Do you collect anything specific?

I’ve a bit of a penchant for scatter cushions as it’s the easiest way for me to indulge in trends, colours or patterns without it being too costly. I’d say I’ve well over 100, which I know is cracked but they add instant cosiness to a space and that’s always my top priority, given that I work from home and spend most of my time here. I also can’t get enough of good bedsheets and pick up linen from The


Company whenever my bank balance is flush. If I’d money to burn, I’d invest in bespoke bed sheets from

Charlotte Thomas

, with the highest thread count known to man and swathe myself in them. I’m convinced that the higher the thread count, the better I sleep.

What would you save in a fire?

I should probably say that I’d rush to save my nana’s china: it was a wedding present of hers from 1939. But I’ve had two coffee tables custom made with gorgeous, buttery-looking reclaimed wood, through this really great seller on Etsy – Derelict Design is their name – that I’m sure one day will hold sentimental value for my own grandkids. I’d definitely be taking those with me and my vintage banker’s lamps; I love how the green glass shades add a sense of Film Noir to a desk or corner. I’ve also grown somewhat attached to my yucca plant, mostly because I haven’t yet killed it.

What designers do you admire? Anything by Georg

Jensen – that fluid yet robust Danish aesthetic really speaks to me and I admire how everything in the remit, be it a candle holder or a watch, is crafted in muted earthy pallets, as if there's no need for bells and whistles when a piece is so well made. Charles Eames is another favourite. I came across his furniture in New York's Museum of Modern Art years ago and became obsessed with every product and project he ever created, especially his graphic textiles and film work. I almost feel a bit cheated that versions of his furniture classics are all over the high street now, but on the flip side it's great to see the democratisation of brilliant product design.

If you had €100,000 to spend on your house, what would you do?

My house is a new build with an A energy rating, which is great for keeping bills low but I really miss a big cosy fireplace, draughts and all. I find it sad that the TV has replaced the fireplace as the focal point in many family rooms now, mine included, so I’d definitely build a big open Brooklyn-style exposed brick wall, with a massive hearth in the middle and I’d also install a


stove in there too, for when I couldn’t be bothered cleaning the fire out. I’d spend the rest on art, specifically original stills from screen classics like

The Birds