Queen of the style counsel: Róisín Lafferty is empowering homeowners to unleash their interior designer
I've just had a prep talk from Róisín Lafferty. Apparently, there's an interior designer inside all of us. Even me. That's fighting talk! Now I'm wandering around my (slightly shabby) home and I can't get the lyrics of 'Search For The Hero' out of my head.
You know that M People song that topped the charts in the summer of 1995? "You've got to search for the hero inside yourself, Search for the secrets you hide. Search for the hero inside yourself. Until you find the key to your life."
The trouble with my inner designer is that she's very shy. Think of her as a colour-phobic introvert (it's one thing to write about these things, but making changes to your home is quite another). Lafferty and I will be discussing this further on the Inspiration Stage at House on Friday, May 24 (Ireland's biggest annual home and interiors show) as part of her talk on 'Finding Your Inner Designer'.
"I truly believe that everyone has the ability to tell their own story through design and that no house should look the same," she says. "But a lot of people lack confidence. They need to be reassured and validated in their design decisions."
If the notion of finding your inner designer is as baffling as a Pilates teacher telling you to "activate your core", Lafferty has a plan. She's an interior architect, principal of Kingston Lafferty Design (KLD), and one of the superstars of interior design in Ireland. As a designer, she undertakes high-end projects, but she's also committed to giving a helping hand to those of us who can't afford the full interior design whammy.
Earlier this year, she launched Create by KLD, a design service that's intended for people who enjoy design, but struggle to put it into practice.
"We were taking on a lot of big projects, but we also had enquiries about smaller jobs and I wanted to find a way of assisting those people too," she says. "People are drawn to our designs, but they wouldn't have a clue about how to apply them to their own home."
Create by KLD, one of the exhibitors at House, intends to bridge that gap.
Many interior designers offer one-off consultations, but Create by KLD offers a more detailed service than most and is consequently more expensive. It begins with a questionnaire, followed by a phone call with your designer, who then creates an initial design based on your information. The designer then comes to your home for a consultation that would typically last around three hours. They'll arrive with samples of paint colours, wallpapers and fabrics, ready to advise on style and the layout of furniture. "This is where the design happens," Lafferty explains. "We try to make it as specific as possible."
The next step is what she calls the "Create by KLD Design Package". I ask if this is something that you receive online. "No! It's a beautifully branded box," says Lafferty, who admits to a minor stationary fetish. The box contains sketches, photographs of selected samples, a mood board, a book of interior design principles, a furniture board with detailed notes for each room, a project planning template and, crucially, a list of suppliers. "We did a lot of research and we found that a mood board is not enough. People need a design prescription and step-by-step way of carrying it out."
Those who engage the service will also benefit from the collective knowledge of an experienced interior design practice. "We have our pet peeves," says Lafferty. "We see the same mistakes, time and time again, and we will help you to avoid them." I ask her what these pet peeves might be. "Gaps in the joinery! Kitchens that don't go up to the ceiling!"
The cost of the service is €650 for a single room, but most people pay €1,000 for two rooms. A CAD (computer-aided design) drawing costs an extra €250. This might be worth it if you want to include bespoke joinery in the project. "A lot of people want to design a custom media unit," Lafferty says. "We can do the CAD drawing and put you in touch of one of the joiners that we collaborate with in this way." This type of follow-through, to my mind, is what sets the service apart. A lot of well-conceived projects fall by the wayside for the lack of a competent person to finish the job.
One of the joiners that Lafferty collaborates with on a regular basis, Enigma Design, will be taking a stand at House this year. The company is run by Steven Jones and Brendan O'Neill, and has been based in Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow, since 1995. They specialise in custom-made kitchens and bespoke cabinetry and will work to the specifications of an interior designer, but also offer their own design service.
In terms of stumbling blocks to creative interiors, worrying about finding a suitable joiner is right up there with fear of colour. Another exhibitor, and regular KLD collaborator, is Fleetwood Paints. "I think their paint is great!" says Lafferty, who helped to design Fleetwood's Vogue range. "The colour is exactly as it says it's going to be and the coverage is excellent."
She's also looking forward to seeing the stand of Ceadogán Rugs, based in Wellingtonbridge, Co Wexford. Their rugs range from €940 for the circular Grapefruit Rug (1.20m diameter) designed by Andrew Ludick, to €3,375 for Helen Cody's Vessel I (2.7m x 1.5m). One of the most interesting things about Ceadogán is the company's ongoing collaborations with Irish artists and designers.
New rug designs from James Earley and Deirdre Breen are on the horizon, but there is also a back catalogue: Jenny Maslen's Achill (€2,860 for a 2.4m x 1.6m rug) is patterned in a way that's reminiscent of driftwood; Claire-Anne O'Brien's Téadra (€2,380 for a 2m x 1.3m rug) has the look of Aran knit. Because the rugs are handmade in Ireland, it's often possible to adjust the design in terms of colour, dimensions and the height of the pile.
Lafferty (pictured) is also a fan of the fine art print studio, Stoney Road Press. "They'd be one of our main suppliers for art work," she says. Like Ceadogán, the print studio collaborates with Irish artists to create limited edition prints and also offers framing and picture hanging services (in case your inner interior designer is feeling a bit off kilter).
See kingstonlaffertydesign.com, createbykld.com, enigmadesign.ie, fleetwood.ie, ceadogan.ie, stoneyroadpress.com.