Cork designer: How to create a home that you love during lockdown

Interior designer Cathy O’Donoghue shares her top tips with EMMA CONNOLLY on how to create homes we’ll enjoy spending more time in during lockdown
Cork designer: How to create a home that you love during lockdown
Interior designer Cathy O'Donoghue.

A LACK of budget or a shortage of supplies do not have to hold you back from creating a home you love, and want to spend time in.

That’s according to one of Cork’s most popular interior designers Cathy O’Donoghue, who says that even the addition of some herbs on your kitchen windowsill or a fresh coat of paint on the walls will brighten up your home in an instant.

Cathy is known for designing such ‘wow’ spaces in the city as Kopper Hair Salon, the Brow Factory and The Glass Curtain restaurant.

As an interior designer, she’s naturally always realised how important our homes are, and says this has become more obvious during the pandemic.

But she stresses: “You don’t need a big fancy house with 15 en -suites or a five-metre long kitchen island.

“Just treat each room with some love and attention, as much as your budget and imagination can stretch for now, and it will give that love back to you in spades.

“Whether it’s a lick of paint, a few herbs on your kitchen window sill or displaying those photos of happy times. Even throwing open the window and putting clean sheets on the bed.”

Like everyone else, Cathy is finding these days a mix of everything.

“Some days are great and some days are hard. I think the weather has a big part to play in it. When it’s sunny, the back garden is the best place to be anyway so I’m feeling lucky to have a garden and some sunshine on those days,” she said.

Fortunately, she’s still able to work and is providing an online room design service for clients.

“People are at home all the time right now and that one room that needs attention will really gnaw away at them right now,” she said, “so this service helps to put together a colour scheme, a list of furniture and fittings and a floor plan that they can work away on straight away if possible, or plan to once restrictions have lifted,” she added.

With extra time on our hands, lots of us are spending more time online and possibly feeling overwhelmed by all the interior advice out there.

Cathy says that Pinterest is a good place to start: “Although it is full of so many styles, if you start pinning what you like, you’ll start to see what your preferred style is and recognise what could work in your own home.”

One of the most common interior pitfalls she sees is people placing all the furniture along the perimeter of their room.

“Your sofa or armchairs don’t have to put right up against a wall,” said Cathy. “If you have the space, consider pulling them out or using them to create different zones in the space.

“Another common pitfall I see sometimes is artwork hung too high up. Unless your ceilings are very high, place the artwork so that its midpoint is about 160cm from the floor,” she advises.

For those looking for an achievable interior project, she suggests a gallery wall: “This is something you might be able to achieve at home if you have framed photos/artwork hanging around.

“First, decide where you want to put it (a hallway/landing or behind a sofa are good places) and lay it out on the floor to get your desired layout.

“Or if you have a few tester pots or small pots of paint lying around, upcycling a tired dining chair or kids’ furniture is another fun and easy project to tackle in a few hours.

“Just remember to do some prep work or the paint won’t last very long.”

Preparation is key when painting anything, she says, and it’s important to take time to cover any furniture that you can’t move, cover the floor and fill any holes.

She also urges people to stick with a water based paint if possible as it is easier to work with, has less odour and dries quicker.

When choosing colour, she considers the amount of natural light the room gets, the preferred taste of the client, the style of the house.

“But always remember too, it is just paint and it can be easily changed!”

The gateway before.
The gateway before.

One lockdown project she undertook herself was making a garden gate using an old pallet and one length of leftover 3x2. And here’s how she did it…

1. Carefully take apart the pallet using a crowbar and a hammer without damaging the wood as much as possible.

2. Measure the width of the opening and cut two horizontal slats to create the width of the gate.

3. I cut vertical slats to the height I wanted the gate to be and spaced them out evenly across the horizontal slats.

4. wanted to create a picket style gate so I cut 45 degrees angles in one end of the vertical slats.

5. Next I cut a diagonal piece running between the two horizontal slats.

The gateway during.
The gateway during.

6. I then laid out everything to screw it together using scrap pieces of wood from the pallet to space the vertical slats apart evenly.

7. I cut the 3x2 piece to the same height as the gate, fixed to the pillar to fit the hinges to. I bought the hinges and latch online and they arrived in a few days.

8. Last step is to paint the gate black!

The completed gate.
The completed gate.

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