Interior design: Karen Hughes, Director of Emerald Interior

Design in Dublin ( answers your questions.

Q. I’m a bit of a make-up junkie and my dressing table is always a mess with powders and creams — do you have any design solutions?

A. If you’re fed up of rooting through makeup bags trying to find your favourite lippy, here’s a handy tip for storing all your cosmetics I got from Laura’s Thoughts ( All you need is a magnetic board, some small magnets and a glue gun. Frame or paint the board anyway you like, then just glue a magnet to the back of each container and attach to the board — et voilà! You can do something similar to create a pretty jewellery holder — cover a small board in fabric, screw in some small hooks.

Q. I love cooking spicy food, but it always leaves a lingering smell in my kitchen. I’ve tried air fresheners, but none of them seem to work — what do you suggest?

A. As you love cooking, why not use the window sill as a miniature herb garden. The natural scents emitted by herbs such as Parsley and Rosemary freshen the air more effectively and longer than artificial products purchased from a store — and they’re cheaper too. Alternatively, try an indoor plant like a vanilla orchid — not only do plants gobble up carbon dioxide and other nasties and release oxygen, they brighten up your home as well.

Q. As an avid reader, I’d love to create a cosy little reading corner in my home where I can curl up for the winter, but am stuck for space. Any ideas?

A. There’s nothing better than curling up with a good book and a hot chocolate on a cold, winter night. And even if your home is small, there are plenty of unused nooks and crannies where you get away from the world for a while. Look at spaces like windowsills, under the stairs and in alcoves. With the right seating or just a few cushions, all these areas can be transformed into a book worm’s dream — but be sure to check that it can accommodate the weight of one or two people first. I also love space-saving hanging pod chairs, where you can quite literally curl up with your favourite novel.

Q. After setting up my own business, I’ve just turned the spare room into an office. And while it does the job, it’s very boring. How can I liven up my work space?

A. As someone who also runs her own business, I know that home offices, while usually functional and efficient, aren’t always the most exciting work environment. But there are lots of funky home office solutions that don’t have to eat into those hard-earned wages. For a quirky storage idea, hang bold wall paper behind a traditional dresser and display funky box files for your paperwork.

Ladder desks are a great alternative if you don’t have a lot of space. Create a gallery wall using family photos and vintage accessories such as a mirror — which will instantly double the size of your office.

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