A key member of design house Restless Design, Aoife Rhattigan turned a childhood obsession with constructing things out of Lego into a career in interior design. Here, she offers her 7 essential design rules…
1. Look all around you. I spend a lot of time researching images, that would be my main thing. Even using those three words that we talked about and putting them into Google just to see if anyone else around the world has done this or just to see what might pop up. Scour the Internet!
I get really excited and giddy when I see things I’ve never seen before. I like to research new craftspeople and to hear about new materials. With a new space, I take loads of photos and try and get as much information as possible about the people living there.
2. Source from all over. I like to use local work and craftspeople wherever we can, but honestly it’s a mixture when you’re going project by project. Sometimes the budget or selection doesn’t suit, sometimes it’s about keeping it local and giving back to the community. We source materials from everywhere.
Bedroom detail at the Armada Hotel
3. Be bold. I try and encourage people to step out of their comfort zone. There are so many great talents around now and we’ve become a lot more cosmopolitan. The appetite for design is growing in Ireland but we’re still not at the level of the Scandinavians or the Italians, so at Restless we’re on a mission to get everyone in love with design.
The name came from the fact that we’re always restless for the next idea, always looking forward to the next thing. We like to take people on a journey and that means we try and always be bespoke so that everything we produce for clients is unique for them. We don’t like to take shortcuts and take pleasure in being thorough – a passion for detail is in our DNA.
4. Don’t worry about finding one specific style to define you. I’m never too keen to say my style is A, B or C because I like to think that I can wear a lot of hats. I wouldn’t like to be a one-trick pony. I’m not sure that being bold with colour is a style, but making decisions about colour comes with a confidence.
I love the idea of layering. If you’re kind of stuck for an idea for a concept, layering is good. Similar to fashion, it’s a nice easy way to develop a concept. I love to see the difference in things.
Bedroom detail at the Armada Hotel
5. Variety is the spice of life. Being too “matchy matchy” is a mistake that I think people make all the time, simply because they’re afraid of mixing things up. Uniformly matching things says that you’re confident enough to break out of the mould. Mix and match – maybe it’s a tan leather sofa with a beige chair; it doesn’t have to be completely different palettes. Don’t be afraid to change up the material too.
6. Be selective with art. It’s nice to place art in an unexpected place so that people look at it more. Over a fireplace can mean it gets over looked. It’s a very personal thing (art), I think people should buy things as they see them as there is never any money in the budget for art.
There’s always something else you can spend your money on because art isn’t essential but it can really make a space. I really like chairs as pieces of art too. I believe in houses being a home so I wouldn’t have anything in there that you can’t appreciate or enjoy the design, otherwise it’s not worth it.
Bathroom detail at the Armada Hotel
7. If your budget is really tight, make sure your floors are right. They’re not something you’re going to be able to change again. Key pieces are your sofa, bed, table and chairs and lighting. Getting the lighting is right is essential. If you’ve got all these lovely pieces of furniture and just a bare bulb hanging in the room it can make the overall effect quite cold. Paint is always your friend – easy to change and not a huge commitment.
Featured image: Aoife’s project at the Armada Hotel, Spanish Point, Co. Clare