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

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?


1. Know your budget and try to stick to it. There are lots of clever ways to save money if you shop around and are willing to repurpose things for your home.

2. Spend money on the finishes, insulation, good tiles etc. Your sofa and bed can come at a later date and you can always upgrade these things.

3. Remember that what is in fashion now could change a few years down the road. Your style will also change. Keep this in mind when you are making decisions for your finishes.

4. Take breaks. Even if it just to clear your head and get away from it all. This is so important to keep energy levels up. It can be a long process and it can get difficult at times.

5. Tradesmen will let you down at times, so focus on things you can control.

6. Stick with it – things always turn out well in the end. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it!



9: Finally, Darran, as we have now stepped into a very uncertain and different world due to Covid-19 how do you feel this will affect design and interior design?


I think that’s a tough question to answer. Many people are at home, taking measures to reduce contact with others. With this in mind, It could be the perfect time to tackle projects that have been put on the long finger, once health and time allows.


Upcycle that chair or paint your bedroom. Lots of paint companies are offering a delivery service too. In terms of how it will impact design, people are getting creative. Online consultations are becoming more popular, so people can get interior advice from their own home. It’s all very uncertain, and like most people, I’m taking things day by day. I will continue to paint the house though, and get creative. It’s like my mindfulness and helps keep me positive in these uncertain times.



It is indeed a tough question to answer so thank you so much for doing so :) Our Interiors are more important than ever at the moment so it's lovely to give something nice for people to do :) A positive distraction if you will :)


I hope you have all enjoyed this post and gotten some nice design inspo and even a little headspace from Darran :) To keep up with Darran and all his creativity check out his blog here and Instagram here xxx


PS.... As all of us are now social distancing or self-isolating I want to be as helpful as I can to my readers. So on Monday, I will be uploading a blog post asking some of Ireland best Designers & content creators 'What we can do with and in or homes during this time'. From interior designs tips, revamps, DIY's, working from home (and even a little bit on fitness!) I have asked Ireland best to help us all with there best advice :)


Can't wait to share it with you and if you have any questions about your interiors or working from home please DM me on Instagram and I would love to help. We are all in this together so let's all help each other xxx


Hope everyone is staying safe,


Style So Simple - Aoife xx