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6.8.18

Image Interiors and Living Magazine Interview

Barbara Taylor, Founder, livingandbeauty.com

I was just going through some files on my computer and came across an interview I did at the end of last year for Image Interiors and Living Magazine  after I won the award for Instagrammer of the Year at the Irish Design Awards. Though it was edited into a much shorter paragraph for the overall piece, I  thought I would share with you some of the answers I gave  - The Director's Cut so to speak - as a way to tell you more about me! So here goes...


Congrats on the win. Did you anticipate you would? 

Not at all, I was amongst such strong contenders in my category that I was completely surprised and totally delighted. Only when I heard Declan say “Keen eye combining charity shop finds…” in describing the Winner did the penny drop he was talking about me! It was the best feeling to walk up there in front of the Irish design community and accept the award. I am still pinching myself.

Did you have a good afternoon at the Awards?

It was a wonderful afternoon. To be in a room with so much Irish design talent was both refreshing and exciting. The team from Image Interiors & Living were the most gracious hosts and so welcoming to everyone, and the food and atmosphere at Fade Street Social was simply sublime.




How long have you been manning your Instagram account? 

I started blogging on Living & Beauty in 2015 as a way to share my love of interior styling and inspirational spaces, combined with my love of skincare and makeup products. I worked with Space NK as a Make-up Artist for a couple of years when I lived in the UK, and I was always obsessed with interiors so it was a natural niche for me. In the last year I really focussed on Instagram as my main platform to share content and inspiration.

What % of your blog is living and what % is beauty?

When I started Living & Beauty it was to talk equally about my two passions – interiors and skincare and make up but recently I have found the balance has shifted more towards to the interiors side. When I was younger I was constantly buying the latest must-have, hyped-up skincare and make up products – I now have a deluge of ever so slightly different shade of red lipsticks  - but as I get older I don’t buy as much as I used to. However, when I do buy it is a considered purchase and if I blog about it, it’s because it’s worth doing so. I am still a big believer in investing in your skincare and make up. So if you are in your 20s reading this, invest now in your skincare regime and you will be glad you did in your 40s! And if you are a tad older, it is never too late to start!


The judges noted how your Instagram feed and blog has cut through the deluge of identikit feeds and websites, to produce a carefully curated edit of interior style. Would you agree with this?

Wow – what a compliment thank you! Yes, I think it’s important to evolve your own style if you want to cut through. After all, there is only one you! Oscar Wilde once said “be yourself, everyone else is taken” and I try more and more to live by that. I am more comfortable being myself now than ever and I think when you stop worrying about what others think, you naturally gain confidence in what you do and your style evolves to a point where you know what is you, or isn’t you. Being authentic is everything.


How have you honed your design eye? What is your background?

I have always been a very creative person and have had a love of interiors since I was a kid. I used to love going to antique shops with my Mum - anytime we visited a new place we’d find a little shop to have a look round. Growing up, our living room was a mix of second-hand finds my Mum picked up from Portobello Market in London and mid-century pieces so I guess my style has come full circle! I am also an avid reader of interiors magazines. I literally drink them in. Pinterest and Instagram are amazing for inspiration, but I love how a magazine tells a story that flows from cover to cover. I have a back catalogue that I regularly re-read and I always pick up on something that I hadn’t noticed before. My background in marketing has also honed my design eye. I’ve worked in retail, tourism and property mostly, and over the years have worked with photographers and designers on brand development for retail outlets, shopping centres and high end offices in London and Paris. The company I worked for had a strong design-led aesthetic so I honed my eye working with, and appointing architectural photographers and designers. Since returning home to Ireland, I have done some work with Arnotts where having a full department store of amazing furniture and homeware at your fingertips was like manna from heaven. I still keep in touch with Arnotts via my blog work and was back in there recently to meet the team from West Elm so it’s always nice to catch up with old colleagues. Currently I am freelancing in marketing and social media but always an eye out for the right opportunity.

Your keen eye combines charity shop finds, design classics and inspirational interiors. Is this a natural mode for you or more of a conscious combination?

It is a completely natural mode for me. My style is ever evolving. I love mixing old and new pieces and different textures. I might see an image in a magazine, or find a unique piece in a junk shop and a lightbulb goes off in my head whereby I can visualise it sitting alongside something I already have. I love to breathe new life into an old piece. In that way the pieces I buy fit together - even if from different style genres and eras. I am influenced a lot by the people I follow on Instagram in particular from the US and UK. I find more and more that many of the current trends in interiors have evolved from Instagrammers’ homes in the same way that street style influences fashion. Instagram has a domino effect in that way.


Your blog talks about your home style. How would you describe it? Where is your favourite space in your home?

My home style is very much an eclectic mix with an overall Scandi-boho vibe and a touch of industrial. It is not maximalist nor minimalist but somewhere in between. The base palette is a blend of grey and white hues. I love to mix my styles but like to ensure it flows well together. My favourite space in our home is our living room. I love my vignette with our sideboard and my cane rocking chair that I bought on Donedeal for just 10 Euros.

Is your husband into design or do you have free reign? 

Luckily he is. My husband David is a very talented furniture and cabinet maker and has made some of my favourite pieces in the house, like our big reclaimed wood table in the kitchen. I always seek his opinion on a project I am working on, and like myself he is a perfectionist on the finer details.

Favourite piece in your home currently?

Of course it has to be the kitchen table David made me last Christmas. It is where we chat together over dinner and entertain friends and family, and I know I will treasure it for years to come. I also have two other pieces that are close to my heart that David restored for me – a wooden bench that used to sit outside our old pub that he stripped back and is now in our hallway and my late Granny’s 1940s kitchen dresser that was falling apart in the garage at home. David took it apart and rebuilt it. It still has the 70’s contact paper on the shelves inside that I helped my Gran to apply many years ago.


Who are your favourite Irish brands at the moment? 

I love Field Apothecary and Clean Slate for candles. There are so many excellent Irish Chandlers now. I am slightly obsessed with Foxford for bed linens and throws. Their bed linen wash so well. After the Awards I popped into Stable of Ireland to check out their range, which is fantastic – I love their woven throws a plump cushions. I also love the decadence of J Hill’s Standard’s whisky tumblers – I saw them first at Kildare Village a couple of years ago – they are the perfect mix of a traditional heavy whisky tumbler with a contemporary design. My husband David is a Scottish Highlander and a bit of a Scottish whisky connoisseur so someday I would love to get him a pair of these to enjoy a wee dram in.

Any trends/brands you’ll be watching in 2018? 

There is a growing trend for natural textured furniture like rattan and cane pieces in the home (Ikea were quick to pick up on it as were Meadows & Byrne) with a more relaxed vibe and a definite nod to 70s boho luxe. I think brass will be big in accessories along with brass and matt black fittings in bathrooms and kitchens. Colour wise it will sway between white walls and luxurious jewel tones with a lot of velvet soft furnishings for a truly luxe look.

What is the Instagram community in Ireland like? 

It is really starting to flourish – I have noticed in the last year more and more fantastic Irish accounts springing up and a lot of very inspiring Irish interiors of different styles! Myself and a few of my insta-friends here in Ireland (@reesandhunt.ie, @aproudhome, and @behind.theyellowgate)  came together to set up a hashtag #mygorgeousgaff to create a centre point for Irish interiors instagrammers to connect with each other. Every week we set a theme and choose a winning post. It has grown in popularity and it is a great way to discover people with a similar style and passion to you.

Who are your followers? 

I guess they are a broad church of people whose passion is their home and their surroundings. I have formed some wonderful friendships with Instagrammers in Ireland, the US and the UK with whom I chat with regularly and consider as friends.

Your favourite Instagram accounts at the moment? 

I follow so many amazing people on Instagram but there are a number of accounts I started to follow along while ago and continue to do so. I have followed Lisa Dawson @_lisa_dawson_ and Kerry Lockwood @kerrylockwood Dee Campling @deecampling pretty much since they started out on Instagram and who doesn’t love a pop of pink as seen on Emily Murray’s The Pink House (@pinkhouseliving ) and I love both Ciara Elliott @ciaraelliott and Erica Davies @erica_davies for their eclectic style. I also love Munich-based Sweet Living Interiors (whose Scandi-style home is pitch perfect and Joanna MacKinnion’s @bealach_uige_bothy Scottish bothy on the Isle of Skye is probably my dream home. Closer to home  Ruth from @Ruby.Aimee, Dee from @behind.theyellowgate, Darran from @oldvictoriannew and Paul O’Rourke @insect_chart have similar style to me I think and are amazing at styling their homes.

Where does your focus lie for 2018?

I want to concentrate on growing Living & Beauty – this award has given me such a confidence boost and has lit a torch for me to drive my Instagram and blog to their fullest potential. I want to dedicate more time to writing about interiors too and I would love to try doing some interior styling. I also want to meet the insta interiors community in person both via my own blog and with #mygorgeousgaff so watch this space!

Who or what is exciting you in Irish design at the moment? 

There is a growing confidence amongst Irish-based designers in stepping outside of Ireland to bring their designs to a global platform which is really exciting. I think the Awards showed this with designers like Alan Meredith and Bunny and Clyde who are creating waves on both sides of the Atlantic for their amazing talent. They and people like Stable of Ireland and Field Apothecary are flipping on its head what Irish design and Irish designed products look like. The Awards opened up a whole Pandora’s Box of possibilities for great collaborations amongst different disciplines so I am excited to see what happens next and with whom.

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28.3.18

Elevate Your Easter: Floral Styling




With just a couple of days until Easter, I thought I would share with you a couple of very simple yet impactful centrepieces you can create for your Easter table, using mostly supermarket flowers.


All the supermarkets have really upped their floral game recently, with pretty spring blossom bouquets in abundance that are also easy on the Easter pocket. To create this blog post, I picked up a few bunches that were reduced but still in great condition from my local supermarket along with some long stemmed Stock in pretty spring shades from my local florist Bretts in Naas, for that true country garden feel. 



I love Stock, it is such a pretty traditional flower, and it's great to celebrate the gorgeous garden varieties we have closer to home as opposed to more exotic stems native to further afield.

Tall Floral Centrepiece



The first centrepiece is the easiest, though it can look more complicated than it is. You will need:

  • A tall clear vase
  • A clear plastic hi-ball glass, or a a plastic bottle (carefully cut in half!) to allow approx 1 inch gap between the wall of the vase and the tumbler
  • Water
  • Pair of strong florist scissors / garden secateurs and a knife
  • 3 to 4 lemons (depending on the size of vase)



To start, ensure your vase is perfectly clean (this will help prolong the life of the lemon slices). Fill the plastic glass three quarters up with water and add some flower food if available. I suggest half a typical sachet. Carefully place in the centre of the vase. 



Slice the lemons into thick slices and start to layer up from the bottom of the vase, hiding the plastic glass. 




Trim a couple of centimetres off each stem - Stock can be quite woody, so take care and use a pair of strong florist's scissors or garden secateurs to do this. Arrange the stems by placing each inside the hi-ball one by one.




And voila! Striking centrepiece for your Easter table or hallway.




Long Table Centrepiece 


To create a linear floral centrepiece I have used an old wooden tool box. You can find similar wooden creates and boxes in stores like TK Maxx and Homesense or even a budget friendly plastic window box would work. If you had some time, you could even spray one a pretty pastel colour. 

For this display you will need:
  • A long wooden box, window box or other suitable container
  • A couple of blocks of floral oasis and a tray for each (depends on size of your box/container)
  • Plastic sheeting or bag to line inside of the container.
  • Pair of floral scissors /secretares and a knife
  • 3 to 4 lemons (depending on the size of vase)



Steep the floral oasis in water in the sink or basin of water.  Line your box with the plastic sheeting to waterproof and help with any spillage when later watering the display. I just used the plastic covering that the flowers were wrapped in.






Insert the oasis in their trays inside the box.




Using the fuller flowered stems to start, trim to the desired length, and starting from the centre place your first stem into the oasis. Then to balance, place similar sized stems at either end.






Ensure a good colour mix. Now start to fill in the gaps with the remaining foliage. Don't be afraid to add in some foliage from your garden too! Ensure both sides evenly filled and balanced. 




And there you have it, another simple, yet stunning spring floral display for your Easter table to wow your guests. 









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17.3.18

20 Irish Interiors Instagrammers You Need To Follow



Today is St. Patrick's Day, where we here in Ireland and folk all around the world celebrate all things Irish and drench the world in 40 shades of green and the odd drop of the 'black stuff' too for good measure! Irish interiors today are a long way from the little thatched cottages celebrated in classic movies like 'The Quiet Man' - though who doesn't love a sweet thatched cottage?

So, to show you just how fabulous Irish homes can be, here is a snapshot of 20 inspirational Irish Interiors Instagrammers (in no particular order) whose homes and interior styling are an inspiration. Of course, my list of favourite homes doesn't just stop at 20 and there are many other fabulous Irish homes that are not included here.

1. @behind.theyellowgate



One of my co-hosts for our interiors tag #mygorgeousgaff,  Dee's divine Galway cottage is the stuff Scandi dreams are made of. She's cleverly designed the renovation of her original cottage home, to maximise the space seamlessly marrying old and new, and effortlessly mixing dark and light tones to create an all together truly inspiring home with depth, and texture. This Galway girl, has a gaff to die for!

2. @houseoffourwinds


Aisling's home in the famous gastronomic town of Kinsale, County Cork on the southern coastline of Ireland is a super Scandi-inspired space with boho botanical vibes and lots of natural textures AND deadly DIY ideas like her pallet radiator cover. She's also a cacti collector extraordinaire. Watch her feed grow with more inspiring posts to come.

3. @aproudhome



A true creative talent, Joanne Mooney is another one of my co-hosts on #mygorgeousgaff. Her home is a Mecca for colourful design inspiration, and fantastic upcycled pieces like this gorgeous grey dressing table. Her lightbulb moments of interior creativity are soon put into action, as she picks up a paint brush and just goes for it! Joanne's canine sidekick 'Rocky', who has been know to steal the limelight on many occasions from this stunning North County Dublin home, is 'King of her Casa', and often photobombs her posts, as he casually lounges by the island in her beautiful big kitchen. 

4. @insect_chart


Paul O'Rourke's amazing apartment that was just featured on Irish TV's 'Home of The Year' show, is a showstopper if ever there was. Carefully curated with a huge array of interesting objets, Insect Chart is a luxe-meets-industrial-meets-boho feed is a cool cocktail of mixed genres and shows Paul's creativity to perfection. 

5. @vintageirishkat




Katrina Carroll's home is a treasure trove of vintage finds and clever hacks. Her gorgeous gold framed gallery wall is instantly recognisable on your feed, and her keen vintage magpie eye means she never misses out on fabulous finds like this stunning 50s pink boudoir chair.

6. @reesandhunt.ie



My final co-host for #mygorgeousgaff to include here. Ciara Rees's cool East Coast cottage in Inch, County Wexford is a blueprint in how to take a traditional cottage and transform it into a modern space, whilst still retaining its inherent character. She runs her online interiors store reesandhunt.ie from here, and her stunning space provides a perfect backdrop to her edit of desirable decor items.

7. @6highstreet



Tanya Ross has taken a tired Georgian townhouse in her hometown of Tullamore and utterly transformed it into a stunning space that embraces both its past as a house once of note in local society, and its present as a fabulous family home. She is a pioneer in revitalising these gems of the Georgian era in regional towns across the country. Filled with French antique finds, and salvaged pieces it boasts an elegance synonymous with the Georgian style fused with a modern design aesthetic.

8. @wioleta_kelly




Already a chart-topping interiors blogger in her native home of Poland, Wioleta Kelly has been cutting a serious design dash at home here in Ireland too. Based in Abbeyfeale, County Limerick where she runs her interior design business, she is heavily influenced by the style of Joanna Gaines and the hugely popular American home design show 'Fixer Upper'. No stranger to an upcycle or two, and an advocate of a chic New England style neutral palette, Wioleta is passionate about all things interior design related.

9. @ruby.aimee



Ruth's maximalist Mayo home is beyond breathtaking. She is an interiors maven whose creativity knows no bounds it would seem. Her home is an alter to dark interior decadence with layers of texture and interesting vignettes. Each post invites you in to explore her collection of interior pieces, and unique finds.

10. @foxhollowstyle



Bronagh's beautiful home in County Clare is full of colour and character. She mixes upcycled pieces with original mid-century and vintage finds, all set against gorgeous greys and beautiful blue hues like this stunning gallery wall. It is a warm and inviting home, and her feed is a joy to scroll through.

11. @carrow_lane




Carrow Lane is a fabulous feed by Cathy McGoven whose home County Fermanagh is an eclectic mix of fabulous vintage and boho pieces, some of which she sells via her Etsy shop. Mixing patterns and textures, it has traditional whitewashed stone walls that she has layered her look upon to create a cosy boho vibe.

12. @gillderiu_



Gill Deriu's cool Cork home is a lesson in open plan perfection. Her loft-style kitchen is to die for with its industrial styling and those jade green Tolix chairs. Her music zone with her monstrous Monstera perched beside her vintage piano, makes you want to sit down and play away. Boho cool at its best.

13. @frieda_100




A self-confessed mid-century magpie, Frieda's fabulous Phibsboro home would make Don Draper swoon.  With lush plants in abundance, warm wood tones and lots of iconic mid-century originals, Frieda's home is a modern take on the Mad Men era. A place to lay one's Trilby and call it home.

14. @nine.and.ten




An amazing monochromatic feed, Agata's home in Cork is a crisp clean-lined true Scandi-styled home. She creates the most beautiful flat lays and her interior styling set against a fresh white backdrop with elements in blonde wood is pure perfection.

15. @fiona.mcp




Who wouldn't want to curl up with a good book on this classic Eames lounger in this stunning home owned by Fiona McPhillips.  Fiona recently renovated her classic red brick home with its stunning stain glassed front door and elegant vestibule and has since written 'Make The Home You Love' - her guide to navigating your way along a similar rebuild path that she's already blazed a trail along.

16. @my_tinyshedlife



It's not the size of your space that matters, it is what you do with it. Jessica considers herself to be 'tiny house obsessed' and her beachside petite home, though small on size is big on style. A true inspiration to being creative and clever with your space.

17. @ruby.loves 


Ruthie has given her cute Kildare cottage a makeover by lovingly layering her personal style over it. A charity shop treasure seeker and lover of all things vintage, she has breathed new life into this space and has created a cosy colour-filled vibe in this artisan home. Her feed is full of sweet vignettes of her vintage finds.

18. @oldvictoriannew




Darran Heaney has given a renaissance to his recently renovated Victorian red brick house in Phibsboro in Dublin, marrying Victoriana with industrial vibes. Lush velvets in jewel tones provide a contrasting opulence to the cool loft-like finishes. His feed is beautifully shot and curated.

19. @thehousethatwill



Norma's feed captures her beautiful home perfectly. With a divine decor including cobalt blue wood panelled walls her entire home is adorned with gorgeous new and antique pieces  - it's a real countryside haven.

20@one.four.six




Katty's uber cool home in Northern Ireland with its boho-Scandi vibes is a great 'go to' feed for style inspiration. Her red brick industrial style kitchen and living area is to die for, and you will pour over each and every post to drink it all in.




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10.3.18

Mum's The Word // Gift Ideas for The Interiors Lover


A Mammy's home is her palace, so if you're looking for some last minute inspiration as to what to get the 'Interiors Loving' Mum for Mother's Day tomorrow, check out my edit below and get shopping!

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6.3.18

Dramatic Monochromatic // IKEA x Bea Åkerlund



Holy Kallax! You may want to sit down on your Ektorp sofa for this one, especially considering we have all been staring into colourless white space over the past week with 'The Beast from the East' and 'Storm Emma', so your eyes may not be ready for such a visual feast.

IKEA have definitely been thinking outside of the self-assembly box with their latest 'on the edge' collaboration with fashion activist Bea Åkerlund. They literally have gone topsy-turvy on what one might expect from an IKEA collaboration.

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19.12.17

Dreaming of a White Christmas // The White Company at Kildare Village

livingandbeauty.com The White Company


When I left Edinburgh to return home to Ireland people often asked me what I missed most. Of course the obvious things like friends, the cool relaxed mode of living in Edinburgh and the city itself - its stunning architecture, old cobbled streets, its nooks and crannies and old stone stairs tucked in between buildings - I could go on and on. And then there were the lifestyle aspects like bars and restaurants and shops. When it came to shops, The White Company was one I missed the most.


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2.12.17

Spend Big for Small Business Saturday

Claire and Tom The Old Mill Stores Cork

Today is Small Business Saturday, so here's to the purveyors of the niche, the makers of cool, those captains of small industries who tirelessly make and or sell the most interesting products. In a world of big and bland when you want to find something unique these days for your home, I guarantee you will find it in a small business. I have listed below only a tiny selection of some of my favourite small businesses with a top interiors pick or two from each.

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22.11.17

Cold November Rain // Six Sublime Umbrella Stands


If like Axel Rose when he laments lost love, you've been out walking in the cold November Rain, then chances are (if today's anything to go by) you've a very wet umbrella to store when you get home. Yet, despite being well versed in rainy weather we don't always have somewhere to store these soggy messes when we return. We only ever remember we need somewhere, or something, when we literally arrive in the door drenched with said soaking brolly in hand.

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28.10.17

Arnotts 20% Off // My Homewares Lust List


I love a good bargain and nothing makes my interiors heart fill with joy quite like a sale event. Especially if there are classic pieces to be had at a rare reduction.
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Thanks for stopping by my blog! You can follow me here for inspirational interiors, decadent decors, junk shop gems, make up & skincare product reviews and top tips, my favourite sublimely scented candles, and tales of my travels.