Tucked away in unexpected places are home interiors oases offering a bit of everything and, often, something unusual to spark a fresh idea or finish a project, writes Carol O’Callaghan.
Stuck at traffic lights between Douglas Village Shopping Centre and Dino’s chip shop is an opportunity to take a turn into what used to be a hub of textile-making in Cork (St Patrick’s Woollen Mills) and discover some of the area’s best-kept shopping secrets when it comes to interiors.
Mainly businesses run by family and friends, they provide a shopping experience which probably existed before the stress of parking problems, negotiating buggies onto lifts and escalators, and impersonal customer service made it more of an expedition and less of an occasion.
Wouldn’t you love some easy-to-find free parking, somewhere like On the Pig’s Back café for the all-important coffee pit-stop, and shopping on the flat to accommodate recalcitrant uncooperative buggy wheels? It can all add up to a pleasant afternoon in some of these shops.
Owned/run by: Friends Nicole Reid and Caroline Breen.
What it sells: Design-led furniture and accessories with Scandinavian influences, timelessness, and emphasis on seasonal looks. At the moment it’s botanicals, pops of soft colour, light throws and subtle neutrals.
Price range: €1.50 for a glass candleholder, up to €4,000 for a sofa.
Star buy: A sepia-toned, vintage-style map of the world at €49.95, and a swish sofa in recycled leather, the colour of Cognac, at €1,795.
Added value: They sell off the floor, so if you see a sofa you like you can take it away there and then. It also means there’s a constant turnover of stock and always something new to see.
Run by: Manager Denise Giltinan.
What it sells: High-end fabrics at knockdown prices for drapery and upholstery.
Price range: €4.99 p/m for single-width fabrics, €8 for double-width, lining from €3.50.
Star buy: Embroidered linens and cottons from famous fabric houses.
Added value: An astonishing 10,000 fabric rolls are categorised by colour with both upholstery and drapery fabric together, making choosing easier.
Run by: Phoebe Holland.
What it sells: Quality rugs, not the “throwy-outy” kind, as Phoebe’s father puts it.
Price range: €50 for a basic product, up to €25,000 for a hand-tufted model.
Star buy: The Zeal Pewter by Harlequin in a stone-coloured background with navy, grey and mustard detail, €480 for 140cm by 200cm.
Added value: Over 2,500 rugs in-store, plus 13,000 on their website, plus a consultation service thrown in where the customer provides a photo of their room, or fabric samples, and they determine what size rug you need.
Run by: Operations manager Maeve Murphy.
What it sells: Crafted design by makers living and working in Cork, including wood-turning, furniture, decorative and functional ceramics and glass.
Price range: €3.50 for a card, up to €3,600 for a chest of drawers.
Star buy: Mr Kite lampshades from €35, and Sarah Roberts ceramic wall pieces, €90.
Added value: Customers have the opportunity to meet the makers in-store and can even have a piece specially made.
The items for sale change every month to show the scope of crafted design made in the city and county.
Run by: Owner and picture-framer Eoin Lane.
What it sells: Picture framing service for anything from a certificate to fine art, advising customers on what they want, type of frame, colour, best way to frame a piece, and a choice of thousands of frames.
Price range: It depends on the piece and the client’s needs, but typically from €20 for framing a certificate, up to €1,500 for a gold-leaf frame.
Star buy: Neutral white and off-white frames to stand out against trending grey and coloured walls.
Added value: Later this year Be Framed launches as an art gallery also, showing predominantly local artists.