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My favourite room: Mary O'Sullivan has a lockdown lookback at the interiors trends of the year so far


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Light is the one quality we Irish crave. Entrepreneur Sophie Cafolla brought it into her Victorian house with 
floor-to-ceiling glass doors - a thought, maybe, if you are considering an extension in the future

Light is the one quality we Irish crave. Entrepreneur Sophie Cafolla brought it into her Victorian house with floor-to-ceiling glass doors - a thought, maybe, if you are considering an extension in the future

A feature wall in a room is a good way of adding colour without going too extreme; hairdressers Mark O'Keeffe and Aimee Penco used sugar skulls wallpaper on one wall of son Ely’s bedroom.

A feature wall in a room is a good way of adding colour without going too extreme; hairdressers Mark O'Keeffe and Aimee Penco used sugar skulls wallpaper on one wall of son Ely’s bedroom.

The home of interiors stylist Nikki Cummins Black is a new-build, and she adds light as well as character with period-style mirrors and chandeliers which work well with the modern setting and furniture

The home of interiors stylist Nikki Cummins Black is a new-build, and she adds light as well as character with period-style mirrors and chandeliers which work well with the modern setting and furniture

Panelling, a welcome change from the usual tiled surfaces, in this bathroom in interior designer Sinead Considine’s home, adds texture and warmth.  Sinead added depth by painting the roll-top bath in the same shade as the panelling

Panelling, a welcome change from the usual tiled surfaces, in this bathroom in interior designer Sinead Considine’s home, adds texture and warmth. Sinead added depth by painting the roll-top bath in the same shade as the panelling

While on lockdown, it's worth browsing eBay, DoneDeal and online auction sites. Ronan Daly and Charles Lambert got this walnut dining set, complete with table, chairs and sideboard, for €116

While on lockdown, it's worth browsing eBay, DoneDeal and online auction sites. Ronan Daly and Charles Lambert got this walnut dining set, complete with table, chairs and sideboard, for €116

Now is a good time to be thinking of upcycling. Interiors Instagrammer Lorna Pringle added beading, cornicing and skirting to the shelves in her daughter’s playroom. While the children are at home, get them involved in decorating their own playrooms and bedrooms

Now is a good time to be thinking of upcycling. Interiors Instagrammer Lorna Pringle added beading, cornicing and skirting to the shelves in her daughter’s playroom. While the children are at home, get them involved in decorating their own playrooms and bedrooms

Artist Bernadette Madden has created a veritable gallery in her hallway with all the paintings she has picked up through the years at the annual graduate shows at the art colleges

Artist Bernadette Madden has created a veritable gallery in her hallway with all the paintings she has picked up through the years at the annual graduate shows at the art colleges

Darina Ni Chuinneagain-Donnelly enlivened her dining area by painting the large table in duck egg blue. The paintings by well known Dutch artist Jean Nies add terrific pops of colour

Darina Ni Chuinneagain-Donnelly enlivened her dining area by painting the large table in duck egg blue. The paintings by well known Dutch artist Jean Nies add terrific pops of colour

Broadcaster Susan Keogh sorted an awkward corner in her L-shaped hallway by adding this enormous gilt mirror

Broadcaster Susan Keogh sorted an awkward corner in her L-shaped hallway by adding this enormous gilt mirror

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Light is the one quality we Irish crave. Entrepreneur Sophie Cafolla brought it into her Victorian house with floor-to-ceiling glass doors - a thought, maybe, if you are considering an extension in the future

Since social isolation and lockdown have become our new normal, we are all missing different weekly fixes.

For some, it's the Saturday manicure, for others, it's a coffee catch-up with pals. My main loss is visiting a different beautiful home each week for LIFE magazine's feature My Favourite Room.

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The home of interiors stylist Nikki Cummins Black is a new-build, and she adds light as well as character with period-style mirrors and chandeliers which work well with the modern setting and furniture

The home of interiors stylist Nikki Cummins Black is a new-build, and she adds light as well as character with period-style mirrors and chandeliers which work well with the modern setting and furniture

The home of interiors stylist Nikki Cummins Black is a new-build, and she adds light as well as character with period-style mirrors and chandeliers which work well with the modern setting and furniture

Each week, I would marvel at a fabulous innovation that a clever homeowner had incorporated into their house and I'd resolve that when I had time, I would consider doing the same thing to mine. But of course I never had time, so it was all moot.

Until now. These days, my poking around people's houses is curtailed, and I now have oodles of time. I'm largely confined to my own four tired walls and thinking how sad they look; how much they need love and creativity and energy.

Fortunately for me, I have at my disposal the issues of LIFE since January, and over the last few days I've been re-reading My Favourite Room. As I read through them, I realised that between the dozen or so issues, they deliver all the clever ideas anyone might need to make a beautiful home.

In this country, where sunlight is so sporadic, filling your house with as much light as possible is probably the most important thing you can do, not only for aesthetic reasons, but also for your sanity.

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Darina Ni Chuinneagain-Donnelly enlivened her dining area by painting the large table in duck egg blue. The paintings by well known Dutch artist Jean Nies add terrific pops of colour

Darina Ni Chuinneagain-Donnelly enlivened her dining area by painting the large table in duck egg blue. The paintings by well known Dutch artist Jean Nies add terrific pops of colour

Darina Ni Chuinneagain-Donnelly enlivened her dining area by painting the large table in duck egg blue. The paintings by well known Dutch artist Jean Nies add terrific pops of colour

The optimum way of getting light in is not always obvious, so if you're planning an extension to your house, engaging a good architect is probably the best money you'll ever spend - someone who will know how to make maximum use of the available light with glass and skylights, and yet manage to bring a sense of the outdoors in as well.

However, extensions are projects for the future. Right now, light can be added with, well, lighting.

Lighting has also become a really important way of creating a warm, atmospheric space. Interiors stylist Nikki Cummins Black loves nostalgia and shabby chic and uses lots of chandeliers throughout her house (see Top Left). Eoin Murray and Kate O'Donnell add a bit of edge with their 'Love will tear us apart' neon lighting from Club Neon.

Mirrors are great for adding light too, as is mirrored furniture. Both Vanessa Creaven - a dentist and one of the Spotlight toothpaste sisters - and Nikki Cummins Black use mirrored side tables in their bedrooms, while an enormous gilt mirror in broadcaster Susan Keogh's hall draws the eye from the front door to the rest of her downstairs spaces (see page 29, Right).

Adding colour is, of course, the easiest way of livening up your home - paint is generally cheap and if it doesn't work, it can be done again. When it comes to colour, we Irish tend to go safe. We had a long period of monochrome, followed by an even longer spell of taupe, then grey became the dominant shade. But we're getting bolder.

Eoin Murray and Kate O'Donnell were really brave with their colours - aubergine units in the kitchen; navy walls in the living room (see page 28, Main); green tiles in the bathroom - but they all work. The judges of Home of the Year thought so too, and voted them into the final.

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Now is a good time to be thinking of upcycling. Interiors Instagrammer Lorna Pringle added beading, cornicing and skirting to the shelves in her daughter’s playroom. While the children are at home, get them involved in decorating their own playrooms and bedrooms

Now is a good time to be thinking of upcycling. Interiors Instagrammer Lorna Pringle added beading, cornicing and skirting to the shelves in her daughter’s playroom. While the children are at home, get them involved in decorating their own playrooms and bedrooms

Now is a good time to be thinking of upcycling. Interiors Instagrammer Lorna Pringle added beading, cornicing and skirting to the shelves in her daughter’s playroom. While the children are at home, get them involved in decorating their own playrooms and bedrooms

If you're wary of such bold statements, pops of colour are the way to go. Vanessa Creaven opted for navy sofas in her cream living room; hairdresser Mark O'Keeffe and his fiancee, Aimee Penco, opted for a feature wall of sugar skulls wallpaper in their son Ely's room (see page 28, Above), and glamping entrepreneur Belinda Bielenberg funished her dining room with chairs of red and blue (this page, Top Right).

Paintings are another good way of adding colour and making a statement. Mark O'Keeffe and Aimee Penco's paintings by Maser really make their living room pop, while Darina Ni Chuinneagain-Donnelly's works by Dutch artist Jean Nies have a similar effect in her dining space (see page 28, Top Left).

Painting can also be a great talking point; practically all the wonderful paintings in Bridget Fallon's house are by her mother, the noted artist Nancy Wynne-Jones, while the walls of Ronan Daly and Charles Lambert's period home in Longford are lined with portraits of Charles's illustrious ancestors.

Some people decorate a room with one or two strong pictures. Others, like artist Bernadette Madden, go large. She has created a gallery effect in her hall by hanging all the paintings she's picked up over the years at graduate shows - a great way to support the artists of the future (see page 29, Below Left).

Instead of colour, many homeowners make a statement by layering with texture - panelling, rugs, cushions, throws. Vanessa Creaven opted for panelling in her hallway (see page 28, Above Top), while interior designer Sinead Considine panelled her bathroom (Right). She also has a real talent for adding texture to a space - she makes bedrooms cosy yet elegant with luxurious bed linen and throw cushions in different fabrics.

With so many people buying in Ikea these days, you would think a lot of the houses I visit would be very uniform, but clever homeowners mix the mainstream with one-off pieces - often charity-shop gems, eBay and auction finds.

Ronan Daly and Charles Lambert had a huge old period house to furnish. New furniture can be exorbitant, so they scoured auctions around the country. One of their best finds is a 10-piece set of bleached walnut furniture including a dining table, six chairs, a sideboard, side table and linen chest, all for ¤116 at auction; and it's lovely (see opposite page, Top Right). You'd hardly get the table new for that price.

Interiors Instagrammer Lorna Pringle loves to upcycle; she made Ikea bookshelves her own by adding cornicing, beading and skirting (see opposite page, Below), while the Storkbox entrepreneur Sophie Cafolla took an old nursing chair and upcycled it by covering it in a new fabric. It's a lovely addition to her daughter's bedroom.

Bedrooms can be hard to make attractive, while at the same time creating calming spaces to chill. Texture is the key for most homeowners, who go for soft colours, and lots of texture in the form of rugs and throws and cushions. Sarah Power - who got so into furnishing her daughter's room that she has started her own range of children's furniture - is just one of many who adopted that approach (see opposite page, Left).

Looking back has stiffened my resolve. Over the next few weeks, I'm going to allocate a little time to each room and draw up a plan for my home post-lockdown.

Hopefully it will be a fun thing. No pressure, no feeling guilty - it's important to also be kind to ourselves and create for ourselves the homes we want. With a little help from our friends on My Favourite Room.

Edited by Mary O'Sullivan

Photography by Tony Gavin and David Conachy

Sunday Indo Living


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