Peek inside top Irish makeup artist Paula Callan's luxurious Dublin home
Published 24/04/2016 | 02:30
The tranquil north Dublin home of one of Ireland's top make-up artists Paula Callan seems a world away from the hectic fashion industry where she made her name.
But when she's not dashing to a photoshoot or creating the perfect look for a bridal party, Paula (41) loves nothing more than to relax at home with her scented candles and a cup of tea.
"I love to sit down in my living room, have my tea and light my candles. Even if I'm just going through my emails for work, it makes me feel zen and happy," she says with a smile.
Paula bought this bright, semi-detached house in 2006 with her then husband, after falling in love with a similar house her friend owned in Lucan. She was thrilled when she came across an almost identical build in a quiet, tree-lined development in Balgriffin, where she could be close to her mother.
Now, 10 years later, Paula shares her home with her fiancé Kevin Cronin, their son Caleb (four) and her three children from her previous marriage, Charlotte (nine), Isabella (eight) and Ely (six).
"I loved the way it looks like an old house, even though it was a new build. I'm kind of drawn to a Victorian style, and I think it has that kind of feel to it. I felt it was the kind of house that would grow with you, and the estate has grown with us as well," she says.
"When we moved in, it was all new couples and now the place is full of kids. It's lovely because they're all around the same age and they all hang out together."
When it came to decorating, Paula explains that she preferred a new build because it was a "blank canvas" and didn't require any renovation work. Although she has made numerous aesthetic changes to the house over the years, the colour palette has remained the same.
"It's always been neutrals. It's streamlined but it's homely. I think if you've got a neutral background you can always jazz it up with coloured accessories," she says.
For Paula, "photographs make a home", and each room is covered in framed photos of all shapes and sizes. "I love photographs, and I hate the way that they're trapped in your phone now, so I like to print them off, unleashing them from my phone and giving them a little home in my house," she says.
A gallery wall takes pride of place in the combined kitchen and dining area, where Paula wanted to create an eclectic space by mixing her children's artwork with family photos.
"I love that wall," she says. "I add to it but I don't like to take from it - I'm a little bit of a hoarder. Even if the kids do a scribble on a piece of paper I put it into a little folder. To them, it's like they've made me a masterpiece, their Picassos!"
Paula names the kitchen as her favourite room. "It's the social hub of the house. I love to have people over, I don't like being on my own. I come from a big family with three brothers and two sisters, and we were always together as kids," she recalls fondly.
Whether they're grabbing breakfast before school, playing with friends or doing their homework, her children are most often found at the kitchen island. Paula loves to cook, and mentions Roz Purcell's Natural Born Feeder as her current inspiration.
"I like us all to eat at the table, we have dinner there every day when they're there. It's so mad these days, they don't even watch TV with me because they have their iPad, so dinner is our time to be together," says Paula.
The kitchen was also the site of an elaborate proposal from her partner of six years. After working on a wedding one weekend, Paula came home to find herself surrounded by candles. When Caleb appeared wearing a T-shirt bearing the words "Mummy will you marry grumpy daddy?" followed by Kevin holding an engagement ring, she burst into tears.
Looking back on the moment, Paula says: "I don't know how he pulled that out of the bag, because he's the most unromantic person in the world. What's lovely about it is that when Kev does something, he does it with his whole heart."
Although her fiancé shares her taste in design, Paula says that they would consider moving and taking on a new decor challenge in the coming years. "Maybe in a couple of years we'll start looking for our own place where we can put our own mark on it," she says.
Over the course of her 20-year career, Paula has become one of the country's most sought-after make-up artists, although she initially started out as a model.
She was scouted at 16, but her career in front of the camera was short-lived. "I hated it. I'm quite reserved, I don't really like things being about me, so it was weird that I was the product. I couldn't get my head around that," she says.
At the time, there weren't many make-up artists in Ireland, and at photoshoots, Paula would work on the other models' make-up, which soon led to a full-time career in beauty, eventually becoming the first Senior Artist for MAC cosmetics in Ireland.
Since then, she has worked with many of the world's top models, including Elle Macpherson, Helena Christensen and a young Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, when she was just 16 years old.
"I've had my fair share of supermodels, but I do make-up on people from all walks of life, and I hope that I treat all my clients like they're a celebrity," she says.
In the early 2000s, her work took her across the globe to fashion shows in London, Paris, Milan and South Africa for the likes of Stella McCartney, Louis Vuitton and Chloe. However, since having kids, she has decided to take a step back from travelling.
"I don't do Fashion Week any more. Since I've had kids, I've pulled away from the hecticness of it. It's just not something you can do if you have a family, it's absolutely crazy. You don't belong to yourself, even. The last time I did Fashion Week, I had 72 flights in one year."
"The first show that I ever did was for Alexander McQueen," she says, recalling her work with legendary make-up artist Val Garland on the late British designer's spectacular circus-themed set for his autumn/winter 2001 collection.
"The show was just phenomenal, it actually made me cry it was so beautiful. It took my breath away. He was backstage with us, and he was so lovely and so humble."
Now, Paula is preparing to launch a salon of her own: Callan & Co, which is set to open in Dublin next month. Interior designer Kari Rocca is helping decorate the salon, which will mirror the warm neutral palette of Paula's house.
"The salon is my home. It's my baby, it's just me. It is kind of nerve-wracking. As much as you want it to be a success and you have everything ready, you're still nervous," she says.
"But it's a good thing - if you're not nervous, it's not real."