Chef Eimer Rainsford's artistic talents in the kitchen are matched by her impressive interior design skills. When she and husband Aidy bought their semi-detached house in 2006, the year they got married, it bore no resemblance to the home that stands there today.
Their Sandymount home, which has been transformed into a contemporary space, brims with good ideas and is flooded with light. As you enter the stylish glass porch, you notice how natural light slants into the front of the building. Step into the high-spec kitchen and dining area and it all starts to feel like the home of an expert interior designer.
But it's all Eimer's handiwork. Ever since she was young child she has had a keen interest in design, and she came up with all the ideas herself. "My brother Brian is an architect and helped me with the concept," she says, "but I pretty much knew what I wanted. Interiors has always been a passion.
"I looked in magazines, studied professional kitchens and picked up samples from kitchen suppliers," she explains. "I wanted a bright, functional space that would enable me to move between the traditional work triangle of oven, sink and fridge, but I also needed the space to do a lot more. It's easy to clean and everything is to hand, but I also love the fact that the living space is attached. It is really bright in here, even on a winter's day."
With efficiency in mind, Eimer's design included a large island with hob where students could gather around to watch demonstrations. There's lots of storage, plus steel surfaces and glass splashbacks as everything has to be hardwearing and easy to clean.
"From a chef's point of view, the kitchen really works," says Eimer, formerly a head chef with Avoca. Today, she runs her cookery school, Pink Ginger, at home.
The room, while homely, is a hard- working space that succeeds because of her attention to detail. She went with the tallest fridge she could find and extra-deep counters and kick plates, which double up as drawers for extra storage and warming.
Eimer then added her personal touches. She snapped up the pretty painted cabinet in Buckley's Auction House in Sandycove, Dublin, for around €120. "I found it hidden away, right at the back," she says. "After I had successfully bid for it, a couple of people passed on their phone numbers and said I should call them if I ever wanted to get rid of it."
The large oak dining table came from O'Driscoll Design, the chairs are from Arena Kitchens and a pretty white dresser was bought several years ago in Global Village.
Eimer created an interesting focal point with a glamorous collection of mirrors above her dining-room table. She found the large rectangular mirror at Woodies, the small mirrors either side were old picture frames of her husband's, and the narrow mirrors came from Brown Thomas.
"I got the idea from visiting interesting bars in Paris," she says. "It bounces light, but I also think it gives the room a bit more warmth."
She continued the theme in the rest of the house and her living spaces are light, airy and painted in white. She adds warmth with furniture, texture with fabrics such as velvet, tweed and herringbone, and colour in pieces of art. Her intimate sitting room features three paintings by Judith Caulfield Walshe and a painting by Louis Le Brocquy, which was "bought in the good times", she says with a rueful smile.
Describing her style of décor as eclectic, Eimer is something of a magpie, picking up individual pieces -- such as a figurine in the sitting room, which she loves -- from trips abroad. "I bought the sculpture in New Zealand and I brought it around the world with me. I was worried it would break if I posted it home."