Ask the designer

Interior designer Denise Walsh of Donovan Walsh Design Ltd in Limerick,, answers your questions on all things vintage. Email:

‘Mid-Century Modern’-style living room by Next. Delamere bookcase €490, Ginko print curtains from €51, Jakarta bookcase baskets (set of three) €77, Delamere small trunk €279, Stratus medium sofa in warwick mink €979, Delamere coffee table €259, Delamere cube nest (set of two) €245, Round bronze metal mirror €142, Delamere low bookcase €279, Rugs from €39, Accessories from €10.

Right: Mid-Century Modern-style living room. Far right: The Vintage Egg by Squint Limited, London, €3,435 available from Arnotts, Dublin.

Q Vintage interiors are big for 2012 — but with so many bargains on brand new homeware, does it reallymake sense to buy second-hand?

A. Second-hand, twice-loved, antique or thrift — whatever you call it, you’re right to say that vintage is all the rage right now. In a time of recession, it makes perfect sense to repurpose old pieces — saving a few euro and precious landfill space in the process. But upcycling is about more than just saving money or being environmentally friendly — it’s about the preservation of the past. An old suitcase used for storage or rug that looks like it’s got a story to tell add far more character to your home than an item fresh from the production line.

Q. Where are some of best places in Ireland to find vintage bits and bobs for my home?

A. is a fantastic website that will steer you towards car boot sales, antique shops, markets and auctions in your area. Woodwards on Cook Street in Cork regularly auction off antique furniture, art and bric-a-brac — check out for details of their next event. In Dublin, I like Retrospect in Templebar for its range of vintage furniture and retro lighting — see Meanwhile, Stacpooles in Adare, Co Limerick is also well worth a browse — see If you choose to shop online on sites such as eBay, beware of fakes and always check the seller’s references.

Q. I’ve never bought antique furniture before — any helpful tips?

A. My biggest tip is: never buy an antique just because you think it’s an ‘investment’. Even with antiques, trends come and go — so ultimately you may find yourself out of pocket. It’s much better to buy a piece because you love it. Start by browsing car boot sales and auctions to find out what style you’re drawn to — for instance, you may find Art Deco pieces appealing. Get to know the dealer so that they can keep you in mind if any more of these pieces become available. Negotiate but don’t be insulting — aim to get around 10% off the asking price. If the price is right, buy then and there. With antiques — you snooze, you lose.

Q. What vintage interior trends should I look out for this Spring?

A. At the moment, ‘Mid-century Modern’ design is very much en vogue. The term generally applies to designs dating from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s — and is characterised by clean lines and exuberant colour. After the Second World War, America looked to the future — not least at home with modern designs in new materials such as stainless steel and fibreglass. To revive the era in your own home, watch out for L-shaped leather sofas, ergonomic egg-shaped chairs, wooden coffee or cocktail tables, hanging lights, gooseneck desk lamps, floating shelves or cabinets, retro print rugs and round mirrors.


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