Design and Decor

Are you long overdue a new dining table and chairs? Get organised for Christmas dinner with a modern design that echoes 1950's styling (Modus dining table with four chairs €1,429 at DFS)

How to lay the perfect Christmas table

MY favourite part of Christmas decorating is laying the dining table — china and glassware that normally sits forgotten in the back of a cupboard has a seasonal renaissance with a rinse and a buff.


Vintage view: Christmas crudities or raising little Furcifers

As the youngest unmarried makes several elastic laps at the melting butter from a steak knife at Christmas dinner, you might wonder — what’s the point of table manners?


How Christmas trees took root

Six months after staggering through college, and confused as to my future prospects, I took a working post in southern Sweden. 

Irish designer Ray Power's series of Link pendants offer cumulus style clouds of stripped natural white wood in a varietyof stains, that split, diffuse and scatter light. €405-€2,000, Willie Duggan

Light and shade is important for creating atmosphere

Nothing else can so immediately influence what is described as the ‘tone’ or ‘mood’ of a place as the layering, quantity, quality and the positioning of light.

There's still time to post ahomegrown gift abroad like aBunbury Board. (Carvingboards from €149 at Kilkenny,Nest, Kenmare and Urrú, Bandon)

Gift ideas for grown-ups

At this time every year I wheel out a particular gift idea — that of filling a bag with little bits and pieces for the home.


Vintage View: Gifting vintage is great fun for giver and getter

The real gift of giving is to have a big slab of fun finding the thing, and for me, that means something vintage or an affordable antique, but only if my pal has been very, very good.


Give your kids room to grow when it comes to bedroom decor 

YOU’RE considering a cool Christmas gift for your children — a themed bedroom inspired by their interests.


Vintage View: Alessi coffee pot

YEARS ago, caught up in rush-hour traffic on a bus, I was thrust up against a warring young couple.


The high art of Anouska Hempel

Rose Martin looks at a new book on the life’s work of the self-taught and New Zealand-born creator of the boutique hotel concept.

Carmel Creaner's napkins. Set of two €30

Get a fair deal at craft fairs and galleries this Christmas

THE thought of weekend Christmas shopping and the prospect of a rain-sodden experience worsened by the inevitable struggle with an inside-out umbrella, makes me want to take to the sofa with the remote control and a pot of tea — and stay there.

The chamber pot

Vintage View: The chamber pot

When I was a child, my brother and I regularly came up from the country and stayed with a more ancient relative in Dublin over weekends. 


Jazz up your style with deep heavy blues

It’s all change in the colour department with traditional autumn hues jostled out of poll position by muted blues and flat greens this autumn/winter. 


Wishlist: Baskets to order

This week Esther N McCarthy fills her hand-made basket with some early seasonal treats.


Vintage View: The Hope Diamond

When it comes to a single jewel, without doubt the most famous diamond on earth is what the Court of Louis XIV dubbed Le Bijou de Roi, or ’The King’s Jewel’, which was more blandly expressed by the British in the 1830s, as the Hope Diamond.


Go all out for an old-fashioned afternoon tea

BATTEN down the hatches and put on the kettle: the season of gloomy Sunday afternoons is upon us — when lighting the fire and watching an old film seems like the best way of dealing with dark days.


Wish List: Quirky porcelain pottery

There’s a certain snug, indoorsy feel to this week’s pick from Esther N McCarthy.


Vintage view: Antique ware

A bang of the tooth on a pearl, a sharp sniff at the Bakelite with loupe pinched to the eyeball — you can tell a seasoned collector at a fair or antique viewing by the intimate way in which they inspect a potential purchase.


A top sheet can lift a room, never mind keep you cosy

Don’t you just hate that feeling of being cold in bed and the disrupted night’s sleep that makes you sluggish and jaded next day?

Autumn Crocus Flower

Beware this Halloween: Poisonous plants that may be growing near you

Fiann Ó Nualláin gives a Halloween countdown of the world’s top poisonous plants which may be growing in a flower bed near you.


Ghosts and ghouls dominate the Halloween wish list

This week ghouls and ghosts haunt the Halloween wishes of Esther N McCarthy.

Ikea Catalogue From 1964

Who knew: 70 years of IKEA has changed everything

EVERY now and then, a Viking turns up, blond wood bared for battle, in the murky depths of a second hand shop. 


Put yourself in right frame of mind for picture-hanging

Kya deLonchamps goes though the basics for perfect picture-hanging, installation and alignment skills you should know before attempting to hang a picture on a wall.


Wish list: Mounted prints

Esther N McCarthy goes for bugs, beds and baby stuff for this week’s handful of wishes.

This Victorian beauty wouldn't look out of place in pared-back surroundings – a daring upholstery fabric pared with sub-Roy Lichtenstein prints and it's lifted from the 19th to the 21st century, as well as becoming the focal point of a room.

Vintage view: Enduring charms of the brown elephant in the auction room.

It’s a curious thing that pieces so highly desired at one stage, can crash so far in just a couple of decades. 

Kenwood's kMix stand and mixer comes with a glass bowl, so you can make  sure, at a glance, that fruit and nuts are evenly mixed (€499 at Brown Thomas and Arnotts).

Mix ‘n’ match to make Christmas baking easy

Dare I mention the ‘C’ word in October? I’d prefer if it were banned until a week before December 25, but while I indulge in a little bah-humbug, I admit certain preparations need to take place weeks before we celebrate the high feast of retail.


Wishlist: The Irish fairy door company

Esther N McCarthy is away with the fairies this week — and has picked up a few other bits along her way.

French Brisé fan in carvedmother-of-pearl. Late 19thcentury.

Vintage View: The source and maintenance of mother-of-pearl

Sounds as exciting as slurry... “A nacreous, iridescent material deposited on the inside of a shell”. 

A winged chair, by Republicof Fritz Hansen, is contemporised by a tailored approach to the defining features of traditional upholstery.

Temptation at London Design Festival is irresistible

The furniture and fittings on display at London Design Festival are so exquisite that it’s best to not bring too much money, unless you plan a specific purchase. Oh, and wear comfortable shoes.

Wilmer W Tanner and tiger at the Brigham Young University Life Science Museum. (WIki)

Vintage View: A glass-eyed view of antique taxidermy

Manly knee-slaps rock the polite simmer of exchange in the living-room....“I nailed that one coming around a corner!”

The notion of a soft, yielding lounge chair is contradicted by the clean lines of the modern but very comfortable Stanley lounge chair by Horizon Furniture, with upholstery input by Molloy & Sons (€1,100).

Reviews of Irish craft at the London Design Festival

September is time for design lovers to make the annual pilgrimage to the London Design Festival to absorb the latest from creative talent worldwide.

The humble spud is so ubiquitous that we never question its value, but according to Fiann O'Nualláin, it has a long list of healthy, nutritious properties that not only feeds the body, but also helps to heal head and heart.

The humble spud has a long list of healthy, nutritious properties

Fiann Ó Nualláin is on a campaign to reassert the high nutritional value of one of the world’s top five super foods — the humble potato.


Wish list: Owl bag

It’s Arabian nights and a bit of Scottish borders too for Esther N McCarthy this week as the first nip appears.

Barcelona chair by Mies van der Rohe, produced by Knoll.

Vintage View: The low down on Knoll know-how

IT WAS a €40 conference table in white, but something in the elegance of the executive grey trim, said quality.

Designer Joseph Walshwith the Lilium II table

International artist/designer Joseph Walsh is ahead of the curve

Everything must change so that everything can remain the same,” said Giuseppe di Lampedusa in his book The Leopard.

Termed a tobacco jar, but not sealed for real use, this this 30cm bird with lid head is by Wallace Robert Martin c 1887. (Courtesy of the V&A Museum)

Vintage View: bird with lid head by Wallace Robert Martin

Kya deLongchamps takes a look at stoneware faces only some brothers and fervent collectors could love.

An example of fine late 19th century Satsuma Moriage work. Meiji Period, below: Japanese slapstick fantasies for a western taste, 1940s. Ensure you are not buying late vintage or even brand new Satsuma rather than antique (Ebay).

Vintage view: the attractions of Japanese Satsuma ware

IN MY first years of collecting I felt a yawning cultural chasm open wide when confronted with Japanese or Chinese ceramics. 


It’s important to get your interior lighting just right

Two months ago the timer on my kitchen lamp was set to come on at 10.45pm.


Boudoir buddy

During the clutter-clearing frenzy of the ‘90s, out went the centuries’ old staple of ladies’ boudoir furniture - the dressing table, all because we wanted streamlined, soulless, space efficient storage.


Vintage view: Coffers

Kya deLongchamps gives a quick run down on the precursor to the ATM — the family coffer — an item which is now an investment in itself.


Nana nicities

Willow pattern, with its Chinese love story playing out on bowls and plates, brings a hint of granny’s table-top style back in fashion (€82.95 for 20-piece set, from Anvil Home).


Wish list

Esther N McCarthy goes hunting for some extra-special products this week, from an over-sized homage to 1950s pop culture to a fun way to keep the children’s toys tidy.


This autumn’s palette is going soft on green

THERE’S a nip in the air, but can we complain when we’ve had yet another beautiful summer? We do, however, have to start thinking about battening down the hatches and what needs to be done to the house before fire-lighting season begins.


Vintage View: The affordable work of Eileen Gray

IRISH women designers are often promoted for their essential qualities of firstly, being Irish and secondly, for being women.


Wish list: Betty Jackson candles

This week is back-to-school time so Esther N McCarthy has picked up a few bits— big and small —to cheer us all up.


Grey neutrals form the perfect background for copper and blush

DECIDED to tackle my spare bedroom, which, with its dreary northern light and an accompanying chill in winter suggests it belongs to a different weather system altogether.

Mary Reynolds was the first Irish designer to win a Chelsea Gold Medal in 2002 and is now the subject of a new bio-pic by Vivienne DeCourcy.

Mary is quite contrary

Mary Reynolds caused a stir when she became Ireland’s first gold medal winner at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2002 in a category which included Britain’s Prince Charles.

Group of Drop chairs courtesy of Republic of Fritz Hansen, re-launched this week. The tear-shaped beauty of mid-century design was a big hit throughout the world for 50 years.

Vintage View: Jacobsen drop chair

If you’re wondering about that repetitive piercing squeal audible from some distant south Dublin suburb — relax — it’s simply the nails of rain-soaked Arne Jacobsen fans clawing at the front windows of ‘Lost Weekend’ in Dun Laoghaire.

A painted tin and little felted spheres become holders for herbs and flowers in Mette's Farm Kitchen at 100% Design 2013.

Mette magic in the kitchen

Carol O’Callaghan talks to the duo behind this year’s Design Week hub.

Mountain Redstart, withdrawn from production 2005, Oiva Toikka for Iitalla at Nuutajärvi (Finland)

Vintage view: Iitalla at Nuutajärvi

Kya deLongchamps is a bit bird-brained this week following a Finnish find.


Garden designer’s book helps keep the kids busy outdoors

Want to hold a snail race in the back garden? No, it’s not an Alice in Wonderland fantasy, but a real possibility. Draw two chalk circles, one within the other.


Vintage view: How to clear your stall at a car-boot sale

You can’t judge a vintage book by its cover, nor a darling old lady by her benign, moist-eyed charm.


Glad to be plaid

Carol O’Callaghan suggests going independent with colour and pattern in your interior look.

Fish sculptures by Monica Fergus are witty, endearing and colourful, and designed to be wall-mounted to catch the eye(

Cork Craft Month designed to get you buying

FOR the inevitable rainy days that speckle our otherwise sunny summer, Cork Craft Month kicks off on Tuesday next and runs through to September 5 at venues throughout the city and county.


Vintage view: Selling goods at auction and online

It’s really handy to sell old furniture yourself from home or online, but beware the pitfalls. Selling through a dealer or though auction can put you at a safer remove for a small commission.

The Wein acrylic chair is an elegant and modern take on a Victorian design. The amber tint echoes the wooden construction of the original (€249 at Casey's Furniture)

Creating the mould

Carol O’Callaghan finds that there there’s nothing so natural as plastic.

Consider the option of a green-wall to maximise green impact and reduce the clutter pots create.

Ask The Gardener

Modern living in Ireland dictates that many of us will live in high-density urban situations, featuring balconies, terraces and communal rooftop open space. Here are some useful ways we can optimise this style of outdoor living.

The tale of the sideboard goes on. Elizabeth cabinet by Young & Battaglia. €3,356. Mineheart.

Vintage view: The dining room sideboard

It’S fascinating to see a line reaching through centuries past, right into our living spaces. In some cases there’s a clue in the very name of the object and the sideboard is just such a piece.