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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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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.