How family sofa finished off luxury suite for Tiger
Transforming a bus into a dream home is all in a day's work for Jane Beer, writes Lucinda O'Sullivan
INTERIOR designers come up against some bizarre requests from clients but one of the most extraordinary commissions which interior designer Jane Beer has been asked to undertake is to transform a bus into a sleek, elegant home-away-from-home for US golfer John Daly.
Daly does not like flying and so does the American circuit in a famous personalised coach. The same is now required for Europe and so a former library bus has been bought from Cambridge Library in the UK and is being transformed here by Jane. The planned interior is retro Thirties sophistication.
"I wanted it to look like the interior of a Bugatti car," says the designer, who is based in Bunclody, Co Wexford.
The new Daly bus will have a bar with art deco maple and walnut finishes. The bathroom will be as a five-star hotel; there will be a compact sleek kitchen. It will have Wii and Xbox, TVs, disabled access. Walls will be finished with brown leather, the carpet will be top quality grey shag pile -- a billionaire's yacht on wheels!
Jane Beer, along with her architect husband Robin, of Beer & Burgess Architects, is one of the most respected and imaginative interior designers in the country. "I always like to do something that will be just that little bit different to everyone else," says Jane.
You could say Jane inherited her artistic talent from her dad, theatrical set designer and actor Gerry Sullivan, who will be familiar to many as Dr Howard in The Riordans in earlier years, and in latter years as Sgt Killeen in Glenroe.
Dublin-born Jane trained originally as a nurse and while doing three months' psychiatric training in St Senan's Hospital in Enniscorthy, she met architect Robin in one of the local pubs. They got married and settled -- after a couple of house moves and makeovers -- in Bunclody in an 18th Century farmhouse.
The first big job Jane did was Hotel Kilkenny. She and her team also did the curtains for the LE Eithne, the naval patrol vessel, "yards and yards of Dripsey woollen fabric and we had to bring them down to Verolme dock yard and all those lovely sailors!" remembers Jane with a laugh.
Since then, Jane has done private work, as well as golf clubs, hotels and restaurants including the Carlton Hotel in Kinsale. She loves doing restaurants. The most important thing is the lighting, she says. "I was taken to a fashionable restaurant in Italy and it was so bright I had to wear sunglasses."
An unusual commission a couple of years ago was the Marble City Barbers in Kilkenny. "It had to look like an old barber's shop but you have your little TV screen to watch while you're being done. Brian Cody gets his hair done there," says Jane.
Another golfer for whom Jane -- indirectly -- did a job was Tiger Woods. Jane, and fellow designer Isolde Corkery of Slaney Interiors, did the transformation of the beautiful Mount Juliet a few years ago. All of the rooms were completed but the suites were left until last. Then it transpired that Tiger Woods was coming for a tournament so there was a panic to get the best suite ready in a hurry.
"Time was marching on and the new sofas which had been ordered were not arriving. I rang up my mum and dad and said, 'I need your sofas for Tiger Woods'. They were collected and reupholstered and are still in situ whilst mum and dad got the new ones -- although mum insists the ones in Mount Juliet are more comfortable."
Jane travels to design shows all over the world. She buys on spec whilst abroad but has always been very keen on supporting local craftspeople. "If I can't find something quickly, I will get it made. It is impossible to get big coffee tables, for instance. Local Irish craftspeople are fantastic," she says.
Husband Robin has also had unusual jobs. He recalls how he did the Kepak HQ in Clonee some years ago for the late Noel Keating. Keating wanted a thatched roof so they had to do a tour of English pubs -- these were the only places big enough with thatched roofs to look at.
However, times have changed, and Jane says whereas she might previously have been working on one big job, she might now be working on a half dozen smaller jobs at the same time. She had to let really good people go and she is now working on her own again. As well as doing a weekly spot on KCLR, she gives classes in Rathwood, the garden centre and interior store, in Tullow, Co Carlow. She will also be giving classes after Christmas in east Cork, in the Green Barn Garden Centre, Lifestyle Store and Restaurant.
People love interiors and nowadays particularly there is a desire to learn how to do things oneself and save money -- and Jane is very generous with her tips. "Antiques are going to come back, painting furniture is in again, recycling things. People are harping back to happy memories and good days of comfort."
Two pieces of advice from the team? "People design and build houses for the way they live now -- but they should think 10 years ahead and work backwards. They should get their interior designer in at planning stage -- it can save a lot of money and pitfalls."
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