Design Talk No. 19 with the lovely Darran of Old Victorian New...

Hello all and happy Friday. My God, what a different world we are in since my last post. I can imagine right now so many of you have much more on your minds then interiors, but I wanted to bring this post to you to give you all a positive distraction. Darran has also answered some questions in relation to your interior and self-isolation. Darran was kind enough to get these back to me just last night so I could get it to all you guys today.

But now let's give ourselves a much-needed break and step into the beautiful world of interiors. First off, let me introduce you to Darran Heaney of Old Victorian New.

Old Victorian New is an interior design, DIY and upcycling blog. For Darran, it all started when himself and his partner revamped their old red-brick Victorian house into a new more contemporary home. But what I love about Darran's home is it still links back to its roots. Think texture, velvets and a whole lot of character and this is 'Old Victorian New'. So let's get him in the hot seat and see what design advice and inspiration he has for us today xxx

1: So Darran, firstly love your home and thanks so much for joining the Design Talk series. Lets get right into it. :) Can you tell me a little more about you and what you feel best describes your interior style?

The best way to describe my interior style is a mix of old and new. I am drawn to antiques and anything with a history, which lead me and my partner to renovating a Victorian, split level, redbrick house which was built in 1895, about 3 years ago. It was always a dream of mine to bring an old, period property back to life and put my own stamp on it. I have an eclectic style and am drawn to many different things when it comes to interiors. Mixing old preloved items with new, classic finishes allows me to create a home I love living in. I enjoy repurposing old pieces of furniture and finding ways to use them in my home too.

2: What has been your favourite room in your home to work on and why?

The living room. It was the room that sold the house to us. It has a 12ft high ceiling and had been used as a bedroom for years. The house was rented for a long time before we got our hands on it. This room brought many challenges though. The walls had to be insulated as it is located at the front of the house. The ceiling had to be replaced because we converted the attic and steel had to be installed. All the period features were ripped out, so this worked in my favour. I didn’t have to work around them, I replaced them. Once the new ceiling was in place and the walls were insulated and plastered I reinstalled the period ceiling rose and coving. I really enjoyed researching what would have been in a house of this age back in 1985. I wanted to respect the period aspect of the house but bring a modern touch to the décor. I salvaged a cast iron fireplace from a skip and restored it. The colour palette is blue and grey. I have two matching velvet chesterfield sofas that kicked off the design for that room. The rest just fell into place. I used French Grey Dark by Little Greene Paint Company on the walls. This provides the perfect backdrop for the sofas, rug and other details in the room.

3: What was the hardest area or biggest challenge you faced?

Half way into the project, the builder informed us that the beams in the attic were rotten with woodworm. This was a huge blow, both mentally and financially. We were only a couple of months off moving in so it could have been a huge set back. Overnight we had to make the decision to replace the entire roof and find the money to finance it. I am so glad we did. The builder said that it might be ok for a few years, but if a big snow ever came, we were in trouble. The following year Ireland had the worst snow we had seen for years! The other plus was we got a bedroom into the new attic space, and a bathroom. What seemed like one of the most difficult parts of the renovation became a huge positive in the end.

4: Did you learn anything new from renovating your home and if you made mistakes that the readers could learn from?

Renovating a home is not easy or straightforward. If it was I suppose everyone would take it on. Looking back, being somewhat naïve helped. There were stressful moments, but I kept the focus on things I could control during the process, like sourcing materials, clearing rubble from the house, painting railings in the front garden. Accepting that things won’t always go the way you want them to is important. How you react and overcome those challenges is key. Another piece of advice would be to stick to your guns on design decisions. Often people want to go the easy route, but it is your house and your money so hold out for what you want.

5: You work with a lot of vintage furniture and unique decor in your home which is always put together beautifully. Do you have any tips on how readers could recreate this style?

I trawl second hand websites and markets looking for unusual items for the house. I love upholstery and have transformed many chairs and sofas. I use YouTube to guide me if I get stuck or need inspiration. I also love collecting nice fabrics. I bought a sewing machine a few years back and have it on my list to do a proper course on how to get the most from it. I use Pinterest and magazines to gain inspiration. And Instagram is a great way to get inspiration for styling tips. Buy what you like and what makes you happy. I usually have an idea of what I am looking for, before I go searching, which helps keep me focused too. Peoples’ homes should be a reflection of their own style, not replications of trends. Try to bring your personality into it whenever you can. I often bring back one item from a holiday – this adds a uniqueness to your décor too.

6: What are your go-to interior shops?

I love salvage yards and charity shops first off. I am always on the lookout whenever I go somewhere. You never know what you can find. Mix your finds in with a sofa from DFS, or a piece of art from the Jam Art Factory. A lot of the big department stores are carrying some beautiful homewares lines and collaborations with well-known designers too.

7: What interior designer has inspired you the most?

I love Roisin Lafferty and her bold use of colour, not just on the walls but on the furniture and finishes on any project she works on. I also admire Daniel Hopwood for his sophisticated, elegant but quirky style too. It always looks so luxurious.

8: Ahhh she is my fave designer Darran! Love her style, now I know all my clients find it very daunting and overwhelming to start renovating their home. So I always like to ask 'Can you please share some tips on starting a new home renovation?