Design/life: Sprucing up the GAFF

Jo Linehan, co-founder of GAFF Interiors

What’s your background?

I studied international development in UCC, dropped out, then studied music in Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa in Cork. During that time, I began a fashion blog and it began to gather speed — I even got a newcomer award from

After my music studies, I moved to Dublin to pursue a career in publishing. I joined IMAGE Magazine. Caroline (Foran, the other half of GAFF Interiors) joined the digital department at IMAGE and we became great friends.

While at IMAGE, I was acting fashion editor and junior editor. It was an incredible time and I learned to hone my creative skills and train my critical eye. I left IMAGE after 4.5 years to move to New York for a few months, where I styled and wrote freelance for publications back home.

I knew I wanted to start my own business, and when I returned, Caroline and I decided to start GAFF Interiors.

What’s a typical work day like for you?

I start my day with a run or a gym session, then I clear my emails and usually I’ll have something to write — whether that’s a GAFF post or an article for one of the publications I contribute to. After that, I can be viewing a house we are styling; co-ordinating with the
restaurant we are currently renovating; working on a fashion shoot; or simply Instagramming for GAFF. It’s always varied and that’s why I love it.

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

We (GAFF) are decorating Bressie’s studio which is exciting. We are also renovating an amazing Thai restaurant in Ranelagh, The Night Market, due to be revealed in early October.

A project that still makes me smile was helping decorate Darcy Twelve in Clifden. We were filming The Good Room at the time so we co-ordinated the restaurant’s decor over email and it turned out so well. Every time I see them posting a picture on Instagram, with the place bustling with customers enjoying the space, it makes my heart sing.

‘My dream is to be asked to design a bedroom suite.’

What’s your design style?

For GAFF, it’s all about simplicity, colour, minimalism, and functionality. A room has got to serve its purpose. After that, it should inspire and delight the person who visits it.

What/who inspires your work?

Film and music videos are always a source of inspiration. I also love modern art.

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

Pink is appearing everywhere this season and I love it. It’s such a chameleon of a colour — it can be soft and feminine, or bold and statement-making depending on how you like it.

What’s your most treasured possession?

I try not to get attached to ‘things’ but I have a Dublin print by Jando Design over my bed, and since Dublin is the great love of my life, I would have to say that’s pretty precious.

Who would be your favourite designer, or style inspiration?

Raf Simons is my favourite designer of all time. He uses collage, mood boards, materials, and lateral thinking to create his fashion. Controversially, Rihanna and Kim Kardashian are my style icons. They have always provoked a response in people and made us question what we consider acceptable as “female beauty” and that’s very inspiring.

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

My dream is to be asked to design a bedroom suite. As a travel writer, I am allowed the privilege to visit some of the most beautiful hotels in the world and it’s my favourite thing to do — to visit a room, inspect it, see what works and what doesn’t. I think now I know what makes the perfect suite and to have the chance to have a GAFF room somewhere in the world would be amazing.

Have you any design tips for us?

Look to the high street for inexpensive ways to gussy up a room — cushions, a new throw, even a giant candle can change a room’s ambiance. You don’t need to break the bank. Hang prints and pictures. They will transform a space.

After the transformation of a Meath family’s dining room on ‘The Good Room’ on RTÉ Player.

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