Design/life: Jane Dennehy / Interior Designer, Co Cork

"Rather than doing a feature wall with a yellow or teal, use a dark inky navy or grey, then put pops of colour with it, which can work really well."

Jane Dennehy's own home; her design advice is to surround yourself with things that you love

What’s your background?

After receiving my degree in Fine Arts from the University of Ulster, I worked in an architect’s practice for five years as a graphic and interior designer. 

Both my mother and father worked in design and architecture so I grew up with it — it was always on the kitchen table.

I went out on my own about six years ago, during the recession. While business was difficult through the early years, as the economy has been stabilising, it is great to see the re-emergence of opportunities.

What’s a typical work day like for you?

My typical day starts off with breakfast and then the frenzy of getting us all out the door for school. 

I am normally on the road after I drop the kids to school, but it is not unusual to spend the morning working from home, doing drawings, moodboards or catching up on admin.

When on the road, I could be out at a consultation, at a site meeting, or selecting tiles or fabrics or furniture — it all depends really.

In terms of which bit of my job I love best, it’s the 3-D concept drawings and mood boards, where I get to use my imagination for initial concepts and briefings.

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

I have just finished two projects, both very different but I enjoyed them equally. One was a complete house renovation that involved marble floors and stairs, beautifully smoked oak parquet flooring, bespoke doors, skirting and architraves, custom-made sofas and furniture and all the finishing touches.

The other project was a new-build house, but with a much more contemporary style, using punches of colour, striking Osborne & Little wallpaper, and dramatic light fittings to create the wow factor.

What’s your design style?

I would like to think of myself as having a contemporary style but one that’s a little bit eclectic. I love creating strong contrast with colour and I wouldn’t be too into things being matchy-matchy. But in this job you really need to listen to the client and identify what is their design style.

What/who inspires your work?

I really like Kit Kemp — she owns the Firmdale hotel group in London. Their hotels are amazing. I stayed in one of them last year in Soho — the Ham Yard. She uses bold and bright colours and patterns with patterns.

While everything is different and nothing should match, it all works seamlessly. I would use her as an example of a style to emulate, for when you have clients brave enough to go with that.

What’s your favourite trend at the moment?

I do love the dark inky colours on feature walls. A dark block colour will frame brighter, more colourful pieces. 

I did it in my own house, where I had a bright Bridget Shelly painting on a white wall, and it was just lost. So I painted the wall a dark Colourtrend Genesis, and it now looks fantastic.

Jane Dennehy likes to use dark inky colours on feature walls —in this case, Colourtrend ‘Genesis’.

If you have a dark room, sometimes you are better to embrace that it’s not bright and make it moody. 

And in a big space, rather than doing a feature wall with a yellow or teal, for example, use a dark inky navy or grey such as Colourtrend Mussel or Genesis, and then put pops of colour with it, which can work really well.

What’s your most treasured possession?

It would probably be the ocean, swimming in it! I know, I don’t really own it...

Who would be your favourite designer, or style inspiration?

Number 1 would be Kit Kemp. Her Interiors are like an explosion of colour and textures, nothing matches but everything does. Number 2 would be Lee Broom who is a product and interior designer. 

I listened to him on a podcast recently and he is one of those people that has a great flair for all aspects of design, theatre, fashion, and interiors and he is really good at what he does.

Jane transformed the interior of Twisted Fusion Tapas Bar in Kinsale, Co Cork.

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

To really challenge myself and my style and work on a high-end luxurious boutique hotel.

Have you any design tips for us?

Surround yourself with things that you love. ‘Less is more’, and please don’t be scared to use colour.

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