Irish Girl bringing it all back home from Brooklyn

By Aileen Lee

Interview with Amada Hilton: Co-founder of Irish Girl in Brooklyn.

What’s your background?

I’m from Limerick but I left Ireland in the 1980s for New York. I did the jobs you do in your 20s: Assistant jobs, receptionist jobs, things like that. Then I met my husband and with his support, I started working in real estate in TriBeCa and SoHo. I worked in real estate for over 20 years. I started to think about moving out of New York, and it wasn’t necessarily to move back to Ireland, but it became Limerick in the end, because I wanted to be near my mother and family again. We made the move back a year ago. When I was in New York, my clients loved my taste and when I came back to Ireland, I felt it was an opportunity to bring back something that was maybe a little bit of a different take on things. I wanted to bring something new to the market. We got our website up and running in August and opened our studio and showroom in September.

Bootsie with a mid-century style chair and handcut silk cushion.

What’s a typical workday like for you?

We are a lifestyle business — we do everything from flowers to furniture to all these things that give a certain look to a room — so a lot of what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis is about how we get that message to an Irish customer, who hasn’t really been exposed to that concept before. A lot of our work is planning how to showcase the business because a lot of our products are just that little bit different.

Tell us about a recent/favourite project or design you have worked on?

I did my friend’s apartment in Brooklyn. It was a very bohemian apartment from the 1920s, with lots of big rooms but it had been dilapidated for a long time. Our style was not to update it to perfection but to leave it looking old. We stripped back all the popcorn finish they had put on the walls, to reveal the plaster itself and we left it like that and it’s fabulous. It feels like this old 1920s movie with the old subway tiles halfway up the wall and dilapidated plaster. It’s very cool.

Silk velvet cushions.

What’s your design style?

My style would be minimal but not modern. I like anything in my home to feel like it has a soul or it has roots. I find it hard to buy new things.

What/who inspires your work?

What really makes me happy is that we could maybe have an impact on how people shop and show people a different way of doing certain things when it comes to their homes.

What’s your favourite trend at the moment (if any)?

I think we are going to start seeing people going back to brown furniture, that is the dark woods. We think of brown furniture as something old and dead and gone but it’s not. I’ve seen it coming in in the States and they are often ahead of us there, because they experience trends faster than we do.

Mid-century carved stone topped wooden sideboard with moulded doors, with mid-century metal floral light, available from Irish Girl in Brooklyn.

What’s your most treasured possession?

My mother is my most treasured possession — she consciously gave us something as her children and that was that you can do anything you want in this world. She gave me the courage to go to New York and do the things I did.

Who is your favourite designer or style inspiration?

Axel Vervoordt in Belgium — he is phenomenal.

What would be a dream project for you to work on?

A hotel interiors project. I would also love to write a book on interiors, and, at some point, have a product line of Irish Girl products, in collaboration with others.

A gift box containing vintage corkscrews.

Any design tips for us?

I asked an interior designer to do the floor plan for my apartment in New York and it was the best money I ever spent. She came up with suggestions for furniture that I wasn’t interested in, but she told me the exact size sofa I should buy, she told me the exact size coffee table I should buy, and I followed her floor plan and the proportions were correct.

The dining room space in Amanda’s Brooklyn apartment. The table is by Jasper Morrison for Capellini and the light fixture is by David Weeks. Painted french bistro chairs.

- irishgirlinbrooklyn.com

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