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The seven best tips for decorating your home from interior designer Roisin Lafferty

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by IMAGE Interiors
25th Oct 2018
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Decorating your house to make it into a home is one of the most enjoyable parts of moving. Leaving a stamp of personality on every room and dressing up each nook and cranny with your own sparkle is what draws so many of us into the luxurious world of interior decorating. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t need a little help sometimes. Decorating to maximise a room’s light, space and personality can be tough, especially when you don’t have the tools and know-how to do it. Getting the suss from a real interior designer on how to properly and professionally decorate your home is an opportunity worth grabbing. So when we got in touch with Roisin Lafferty, interiors designer to the Marianella, Rathgar ( a soon-to-be-released luxury penthouse), we jumped at the chance.

As a female entrepreneur setting up an Interior Architecture and Design House at a challenging time in Ireland for the construction industry, Roisin has had to work hard to arrive at her stellar success today. Specialising in a holistic approach to her designs, Roisin focuses on how layering and building a room from the ground-up can revolutionise the space. We had so many things to ask her, but we whittled it down to seven burning questions. We’re washing our paintbrushes as we speak.


What’s one thing you can do to change a room’s feel?

Layering; of lighting, colour, materials and objects. Often, people look at a room as a space that needs to be filled. But a room should be more than just a box filled with things.

A well-considered space is one that you want to spend time in and feel comfortable in. Think less about the individual objects and more about the tactility of the materials; how you will feel walking barefoot on the floor; curled up reading a book on a sofa etc. Think about each thing in terms of layering.

Colour is very subjective and personal. When choosing colour, opt for a combination of complimentary colour tones that make you feel calm and relaxed. Layering similar tones adds depth and prevents the space feeling flat and lifeless. Regardless of how brave you are with colour, a grey base ensures more of a calming feel, rather than a sugary, sweet pigment.

Materials are what makes the difference of how a space looks and how a space is experienced. The latter is much more important. When choosing your material palette, combine hard and soft textures to achieve a comfortable yet hard wearing balance. Remember that raw, natural materials don’t date, so tend to be worth more of an investment.

Lighting should never be overlooked or underestimated. Where possible, I try to layer a combination of seamless, integrated task lighting that blends in, with some more dramatic feature pendants; wall lights and lamps, all individual switched. This allows you to visually zone the various spaces (especially in open plan spaces) and also to control and change the atmosphere at any given time.

Lastly, artwork and decoration is a fantastic way to add depth, interest and personality to your space. For me, artwork is everything. I am always visiting galleries and sourcing new artists and photographers, as I don’t think anything can create such emotive and personal reaction the way art can. For the Marianella penthouse, we got to source artwork from all over including Irish photographers and artists to some much further afield. Think of the decorative items and books as the icing on the cake, similarly to shop and window displays, these items can add a layer of richness, colour and personality to the room.

Wallpaper scares us and excites us in equal measure – should we? 

Yes! But do think carefully about your selection. Rather than being too trend-led, opt for a style that says something to you personally. Everyone knows the dreaded woodchip wallpaper that still haunts many Irish houses and though that is thankfully long gone, there is a certain level of commitment that comes with wallpaper. It is tricky to take down so you need to make sure you like it.

There are many ways of being playful with wallpaper though, such as lining the inside of cabinets, walk-in wardrobes and ceilings. There is no right and wrong way.

One of my personal favourites of the moment is the current Gucci collection, especially the Heron print wallpaper, also available in silk wall coverings. The tones and patterns have an aged, historical feel to them, giving them a beautiful timelessness.

What is one thing you wish everyone knew when decorating a home?

That it is meant to be a fun process. Often, people can get bogged down with the pressure of getting everything right.

Your home is the one place that reflects you and your life. Like your life, it is not fixed or stagnant. It is constantly evolving and changing. Take the opportunity of creating a home that truly reflects you and what you love. It is the only space that you can truly express yourself in.

Where is your favourite place to nab an interiors bargain?

Flea markets and charity shops. It may sound strange, but I have encountered many a vintage and antique gem when perusing Age Action and Oxfam Home. It is important to visualise the pieces out of context. Try and imagine certain pieces in different settings with a new lease of life.

Any colours to always avoid?

Sugary tones of any colour. It’s easy to spot the difference between a rich heritage tone and a more garish or primary tone. In general, I am not a fan of yellow-based colours either. I think the nostalgia of the Irish custard coloured walls still lingers.

In general, however, I encourage people to choose colours that make them happy. Always, always try out large samples before buying your paint. Colour changes depending on orientation of room, natural and artificial light and other elements within the space. Don’t assume a colour will be the same in one room as the other.

Do you use Pinterest? Where is the best place for inspiration?

Yes, we use it at KLD when working on different projects. It is great to have access to such an array of images and designs. However, it is easy to get lost in hours of scrolling and pinning, which is not always a good thing. There is a lot to be said for honing in on a few key images and trying to pinpoint what exactly draws you to that image. Often, it is an atmosphere or feeling that is triggered, rather than the individual items in the picture.

For me, inspiration comes from experiencing different spaces and places. I love to immerse myself in new cultures and environments. Design is an obsession for me and travel allows me to develop new inspiration and ideas. I travel as often as I can and avoid going back to too many places, so that I am always seeing different things. This varies hugely, from Miami, New York to Marrakech or the beautiful west coast of Ireland. Inspiration is everywhere once you start to see it. Travel to places that you genuinely think will be inspiring. Don’t be led by where everyone else is going on Instagram.

Should dark colours never be used in small spaces?

 There are no hard and fast rules here. Colour is the most transformative tool in interiors. It can drastically alter your mood and how a space feels. Consider the function of the spaces within your home and what time of day they will mostly be used. Small bedrooms, studies and lounges often lend themselves to rich, dark colours. Dark colours can give an intimate, cosy feeling that cocoons; often, this is what you want to feel in these spaces.

The study design in Marianella, Rathgar penthouse is one of my favourites because the walls are clad with a rich walnut, contemporary panelling. It is dark in tone but achieves a sophisticated and opulent feel.

No matter what stage you’re at, Cairn pride themselves on building your future. A Cairn home is a guarantee of quality, created by the best architects, designers, builders and craftspeople. Visit cairnhomes.com to find out more about their current and upcoming developments.