Home Bird

Having just launched her first collection of homewares for Dunnes Stores, former fashion designer Helen James talks about bringing Brooklyn style to her rambling country abode in Castlepollard?

Helen, who worked for Donna Karan among others, left behind the fashion houses of NYC and returned home to start a family in her beautiful house in Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath.

It's everything you imagine a picturesque country home to be, albeit with a modern twist - think creeping rose bushes, muted shades of Farrow & Ball, a charming pink half door and grassy fields out the back for the boys to run around in. But lessons had been learned in NYC. ?Moving to New York and back again taught me what is important in a home,? she explains. ?That piece of wood that is aged just so, found on the shores of Lough Derravaragh, or the lamp I found in the street in Brooklyn - those are the things that are valuable, because they are attached to a time in my life and to a memory.?


How would you describe your home style? Intuitive and practical. With three busy boys, the house has to work but also be a nice place to live. You can't be precious, whether that means not having a white floor or not crying when someone drops your favourite vintage milk jug. I'm constantly planning, moving things around, looking at what the next project will be. A walled garden is currently on the wish list.

What made you decide to launch your own collection of homewares? One day, I looked at my bookshelf and it was full of books on interiors or cookbooks. I realised my heart just wasn't in fashion any more. Then, when I started working with Dunnes Stores, it just seemed like the perfect opportunity to create something new and unique for them.

How is your style reflected in the new range? This collection is so personal. I tried to bring beauty and function together. I looked at what I needed in my kitchen and what I use every day. I wanted the collection to be authentic, with simplicity and beauty. Each piece had to stand alone as well as work together. It was a testament that when I brought some samples home, they fit in seamlessly!

What are your home design tips? Edit - only keep what you love, what has a use or a value to you. A house should serve you and the way you live in it. It may change as kids arrive, grow up and move on. Don't be afraid to challenge the way you are using your space.



For Helen's no-knead bread recipe, head here and be sure to check out her beautilicious brownies here.

Words Nathalie Marquez Courtney. Photography Ailbhe O'Donnell.


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