A picture paints a thousand words

This 1840’s period house is located a few miles outside Galway City. Originally used as a family home, it was turned into a Bed & Breakfast in the 1980’s and traded very successfully as such for many years. The first thing you will notice are the brass name tags on some of the doors. They remain in situ and I can’t help thinking they are a rather nice addition to the story of this fabulous home. When Donal Hegarty – Painter & Decorator was invited to tender for the painting contract of the property, he was delighted to do so as he could show his skills as a decorator and showcase his speciality – painting old period homes.

Living room in a 1840's period house, freshly painted by Donal Hegarty

Living Room in an Irish 1840’s period home

Traditionally houses from this period were painted in ochres, umbers, creams and fawns. White wasn’t used much except for the window sashes on the simplest buildings. The out buildings were painted white using lime washes. Wallpaper was introduced towards the end of this period and it became quite popular. Luxury and wealth was indicated by the use of deep dark colours in the larger homes and thus this home used heavy dark colours with the wallpaper and drapes which exuded opulence and luxury. This house was operating as a rather expensive Bed & Breakfast and the decor reflected this – with deep brocade wallpapers and strong deep colour schemes in all the rooms.

Hallway in the 1840's period house, Paint colour: Farrow & Ball, Savage Ground

Hallway; Paint colour: Farrow & Ball, Savage Ground

When Donal was hired, his brief was to completely change the colour scheme of the whole house, but he also had to retain its old world period look. He also had to take into account the antiques that were dotted throughout the house. The house also had some rather expensive modern pieces of furniture that could not be ignored either. His strongest memory on entering the house was the deep red in the hall and the strong yellows in the bedrooms. Many of the rooms were wallpapered, in keeping with the decor of the period and Donal had to keep this in mind when recommending a paint colour. Because the paint colour he was painting over was so dark he had to go for a high quality paint, in order to avoid putting on endless coats of paint. He was instantly drawn to the Farrow & Ball range using their ‘neutrals’ colour palette. This colour palette would give the house a fresh new look but would also blend with the antiques and the modern pieces of furniture. As you enter the large hall you are struck by the very striking floor tile in black and white, also a large gilt edged framed mirror makes a striking statement. Donal decided on the subtle shade of ‘Savage Ground’ from Farrow & Ball. It would be perfect for the eye-catching hall, so as not to take away from the strong highly patterned floor tile and the very ornate chandelier.

Living room in the 1840's period house; Paint colour: Farrow & Ball, Bone

Living room; Paint colour: Farrow & Ball, Bone

The room on the left is what would have been know as the drawing room during its B & B days – this room leads into another room through two small arches. It will more than likely be used as a breakfast room as two doors lead out to the wonderfully manicured gardens. Both rooms are floored in a traditional mahogany herring bone timber. Donal chose ‘Bone’ from Farrow & Ball here giving a slight hint of colour to these elegantly decorated living rooms. Ornate marble fireplaces sit back to back bringing atmosphere and warmth to both spaces. The large wide hall is continued under an arch to the main staircase. The black and white floor tiles ensure a continuity of both spaces and are matched with a custom made carpet on the stairs. The black of the carpet is broken up with a blue and salmon colour pattern, it was decided to continue with the same ‘Savage Ground’ paint choice of the hall. This was also continued up into the landing where the carpet runs along the landing covering the dark timber floor.
A large tapestry rug hangs in this area and again standing out beautifully while also bringing out the best of the paint choice.The wrought spindles and bannister are fantastically highlighted by the backdrop of the ‘Savage Ground’ shade.

Bedroom, Paint colour: Farrow & Ball, Cream 44

Bedroom, Paint colour: Farrow & Ball, Cream 44

Each room had its own label according to its decor, we picked two to show you – The Art Nouveau Suite – obviously because of its more modern decor with a large Art Nouveau rug hanging above the bed. Donal, in keeping with this modern theme, went with Farrow & Ball’s ‘Cream’. Although he could have gone for a stronger shade here he decided to have no jarring colours in the house and played it safe with the neutral tones. The Regency Suite, Donal decided, deserved a regency style shade so he went for Farrow & Ball’s ‘Clunch’. The white french style bed blended extremely well with the subtle tone of this colour. The large ornate gold mirror reflects the shade and colour of this very elegant bedroom. Although Donal had no work to do in the bathroom, we thought it would be worth showing you anyway. Fully tiled with a large free standing sink, this room is the epitome of luxury. It was used as the en suite for the Regency Suite and is accessed via a walk through wardrobe.

Frenchstyle bedroom, Paint colour: Farrow & Ball, Clunch

Frenchstyle bedroom, Paint colour: Farrow & Ball, Clunch

As Donal walked us through this beautiful home, now freshly painted, I was only sorry it had stopped trading as a Bed & Breakfast as I could only imagine staying in this period home and wandering though it, dreaming of its glory days as a grand home. The lives and the family who lived here will forever be just stories in my head. Donal Hegarty has truly done this grand old home proud – his choice of paint colours and the expertise with which he executed its make over has enhanced it and turned it into a beautiful family home.

Donal Hegarty – Painter & Decorator, 085 7555517

Words by Julie Keary
Photography by Alan Smyth

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Story of a Claddagh House

When I met Orla Sheridan to discuss her new business as a Personal Stylist, we got around to talking about houses and interiors. She told me she lived in the Claddagh. My attention was spiked as it is one of my favorite places in Galway. The homes in the area have been a fascination for me for years.

The Claddagh is one of the oldest parts of Galway. Although sadly none of the old cottages survived, the houses that replaced them have since been replaced and changed or morphed into large medium and small homes. The area has become rather trendy and many houses have been bought up by young professionals and renovated beyond recognition. I immediately ask Orla could I just have a peak at her home. Orla is in the unusual position in that she rents one of the newly extended and renovated houses. Although rented, Orla has put her own style and stamp on the house. Well, the house was a treat and I was delighted when Orla’s landlord allowed us in with our camera.

Living room in the Claddagh House with a burning fireplace

Surrounded by greenery you almost have to duck down to enter the house. Orla refuses to cut it back as it allows her privacy. It also hides the bins, as it is a terrace house the refuse bins can be placed discretely at the front of the house, out of sight from the occupants and the passersby. The first thing that is obviously a new addition to the house, is a little entrance porch. The front door leads straight into the main sitting room which extends the length of the house – hence the need for a little porch. The original house had a staircase directly opposite the front door with a small room to the left and right.
Dining Area in a Claddagh House with wooden floors, a wooden table and white chairsThe original beams show the exact placing of the staircase. When the house was renovated the stairs were removed and placed at the back of the house in the extended part. This extension houses a very unusual kitchen and dining room. The staircase then leads up to a mezzanine with access to the two bedrooms. The original house was very small and very basic – a two up two down house so to speak. It got me to thinking about the original family that once lived here and I wondered how many children grew up here. Having grown up in Galway I always remember many of my friends’ Grandparents living in the Claddagh, in these very houses and they were not small families – another source of fascination for me but maybe that’s a story for another article.

The kitchen area seems so large and airy and its then I realize it is because the extension is double height and the light streams into the kitchen through some velux windows in the roof. Double doors lead out to a back garden which appears like a very small space with the decking and shrubs. But Orla explains that she has allowed the shrubs to grow quite wild as she loves the feeling of greenery around her. The deck area is topped with a gazebo style structure and Orla and her husband have had many an evening meal outside in her overgrown garden.
Kitchen in the Claddagh House with a movable island and red accessories
The living room has the original fireplaces still in working order although Orla tells me she only has need to light the larger one and the smaller one is purely decorative and is mirrored by two similar ones in the two bedrooms upstairs. Cream shelving is matched up with the cream and glass coffee table and the cream unit on the opposite side of the living room. Numerous copies of Vogue Magazine and style books sit o the coffee table indicating Orla’s keen interest in fashion and style. A red and cream theme is seen all around the house with a red desk contrasting with the cream units in this very comfortable living room.

The simple timber floor running through the ground floor and a timber kitchen was already in situ when Orla moved in, so she really had no say in that but she has enhanced the simple semi rustic and semi contemporary look and feel to the house. The kitchen units are very unusual with open shelving above the cupboards with a series of copper piping going through each set of shelves – a really unique touch to the kitchen. A movable island was added which complements the kitchen and can be wheeled out of the way when it is needed. A rough timber table sits to the right of the kitchen and ultra modern white chairs sit neatly at the table. Orla chose red accessories to blend with the copper piping and also added large red dome shades to cover the drop lighting in the kitchen area. A large metal beam is painted in red and denotes where the old house ended and the extension started.
Working Area in the Claddagh House with a small decorative fireplace, a red desk and a few red accessories
A sisal natural carpet covers the stairs and leads to the mezzanine and into the two bedrooms – both very simply decorated with cream beds and crisp white bed linen. Simply stylish and quaint is the only way to describe this beautiful home. Having visited many houses over the last ten years this was one of my favorites and the one house in which I would be very happy to live. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it is situated almost in the city and within spitting distance of the sea, in one of the most historic and beautiful parts of Galway – The Claddagh.

Orla Sheridan, personal stylist

Orla’s new website is  www.orlasheridan.com or you can contact her on – +353 (0)87 2389283.

Words by Julie Keary
Photography by Alan Smyth

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