Rose Martin looks at events, inventions, and news in the world of interiors, exteriors and more

THOSE of you who labour under the utter usefulness, but dated foxiness, of that classic piece of ’90s pine, the Supervalu shelf unit, may be up for a solution.

One of the specials at Aldi at the moment is chalk paint (in a limited range of colours), but at €6.99a litre, this compares very favourably with the brand leader, Annie Sloan, at around €27.

And they are also selling clear wax, at €5.99 — the essential part of a chalk paint finish for durability. It prevents that shabby, chic paint job looking, well, just mank.

So, bagging the duck-egg blue, I hope to turn that necessary evil bookshelf (those things are really well-constructed, aren’t they?) into a divine, duck-egg counterpoint to matt grey.

There is quite a bit of traction online about the paints — they’ve sold out in a lot of places (still had some in Blackpool on Tuesday), and the feedback has been very positive and utterly negative. Mumsnet goes from ‘sticky, smelly and awful’ to glowing posted images of really smooth-surfaced pieces — so you pays yer money…

One workshop site online was very positive and a contributor suggested not waxing the paint in the finish, on the basis that if a matt finish is what you want, they why put on a sheen?

Meanwhile, still in the world of paint, I’ve spent hours and days layering old-fashioned oil paint onto raw doors and primed skirting/architrave. Two coats of primer, four coats of undercoat, three of a top coat, and a week of breathing toxic fumes later and the job is patchy — passable, but not sexy.

So, I went to the man-in-the-shop-who-knows-everything and he shook his head in that way that men-in-shops-who-know-everything-do. “Ah, it’s the new EU rules, you see. The manufacturers have to comply.” Yes, so? Well..” He didn’t want to say it. I nodded encouragement. No go. “So the paint is thinner as a consequence?” I say. He nods in assent, brand loyalty satisfied.

I move on and give him what he wants — the leading question: “So what would you use?” And he told me — and I knew it already — but had stupidly stuck to the traditional. I’ve mentioned it here before: it’s pricey, but it glides on, spreads forever, has no odour, dries in minutes and is a dream to work with — plus it’s Irish. Colortrend ‘Sustain’ is the name of game — the only game in town for DIYers.

Chris Dewar-Dixon and his company, Four IV, who create interiors for Harvey Nichols stores worldwide, for Burberry, Armani, and the East India Company, as well as a host of iconic hotels — has just finished a lighting showroom in Churchtown, Dublin.

The showroom was designed by international designer, Chris Dewer-Dixon, of Four IV Design.
The showroom was designed by international designer, Chris Dewer-Dixon, of Four IV Design.

The 2,300 sq ft Fantasy Lighting store is now open and offers a great range from living room, to bathrooms, to kitchens, outdoors and more.

“We have tried to avoid the cliche of trying to create room sets,” says Chris, “which spoils the look of so many lighting showrooms.

“This store is purely about lights, and visitors will see products against specific materials, so you will have garden lighting against green and deckingcolours, for example, but presented in an imaginative way.

“Lighting is fast-becoming the mood-setter for interior design, and more householders than ever are looking for pieces to set off a room,” says Gabriel Byrne, of Fantasy Lights.

Chris Dewar Dixon, FourIV, chrisfouriv@gmail.com, studiofouriv.com

Gabriel Byrne, Fantasy Lights, sales@fantasylights.com

Gabriel Byrne at his newly opened showroom for Fantasy Lights, Churchtown, Dublin.
Gabriel Byrne at his newly opened showroom for Fantasy Lights, Churchtown, Dublin.

An eye-catching way to highlight his curation of Austria’s pavilion, at the forthcoming Venice Bienalle, sees sculptor, Erwin Wurm, plonk his Fat House on the lawns of one of Vienna’s greatest baroque mansions.

Created in 2003, the pieceis a reflection on middle-class consumer culture and the flubby little cottage is still grabbing attention.

Now open to the public in the 18th century, Belvedere Palace museum (which is free to enter), the visitor will get to see Wurm’s preparations for next year’s
Venice Biennale.

The structure plays with our idea of a house and is constructed of a steel frame with a snow-white, polystyrene finish that looks more like the home of a cuddly snowman, than regular render.

The Fat House is open every day until mid-September.

Newsview: What is making waves in the world of design and interiors

On more prosaic matters, DJ Murphy’s Bandon Garden Centre is celebrating 30 years in business and is giving 30% off every purchase for this month. Also, for the cute gardeners out there who don’t mind a bit of intensive care, there are bargains to be had in a far corner of this delightful centre, just in front of the hen houses, (which are worth the journey alone.

Faded plants that are past their prime, but which should recover, sell for only a euro a piece. If you don’t mind waiting for growth, it’s a good way to get a garden up and running.

Check out DJ’s selection of pots, too, particularly his Greek urns, although these are not cheap — just
fabulous.

Hats off to the Design School undergraduates at Nottingham University, who’ve cracked the perennial problem of washing-machine imbalance.

The team has developed a new system, whereby water containers, instead of the usual brick balances, allowour best friend to be moved, placed, and, more importantly, balanced easily in the home. Tanks of water will replace the usual concrete weights and, as water finds its own level, balancing should be easy to achieve. It’s an ingenious, why-didn’t-anyone think of this solution, and 22-year old Dylan Knight, says the new method should stop shaking and damage to the machine, while saving on freight and carbon emissions. Bingo!


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