Four leading Irish interior designers share their key ideas

by decwells
Four leading Irish interior designers share their key ideas

Exploring our creative potential in our living spaces is so much easier when we can drift into a professional’s ready-made dreamscape and capture the essence of a design idea—or, in practical terms, a few Insta-perfect snaps.

I love the idea of ​​these as mood boards that we can walk right into and walk into – and if need be, get a feel for what might work when we’re back behind our own front doors.

The Autumn DFS Interior Design Stage and Inspirations Design Center at the Ideal Home Show promises a lot of home atmosphere.

I caught up with the designers who were showcasing their fantasy zones: Jo Linehan, from Cork, Jen Connell, from Limerick, Aoife Tobin, a Kerry native in Cork, and Susan McGowan, from Athlone.

Joe Linehan.


As a lifestyle and sustainability journalist and founder of Gaff Shop, Jo Linehan’s work is all about highlighting and celebrating ways we can all live more eco-friendly lives.

Gaff Shop is an online platform where like-minded interior lovers can buy and sell pre-loved pieces, helping to extend the life cycle of furniture and home accessories.

Not surprisingly, Jo placed the Farnham sofa in the center of her room. The Grand Designs sofa collection, exclusive to DFS, arose from a sustainable business model rooted in the principles of the circular economy – where waste is designed, and more environmentally friendly materials are sourced, recycled and kept in use.

The DFS Farnham grand chaise sofa and feet in terracotta velvet.
The DFS Farnham grand chaise sofa and feet in terracotta velvet.

The range includes fabric made from recycled polyester yarns, and back and throw cushions filled with 100% recycled polyfibres, which are made from plastic bottles. The seat cushions’ fiber filling is also made with 50% recycled plastic, with around 200 recycled plastic bottles used in each cushion.

The sofas also have handmade frames made from sustainable FSC wood, 100% recyclable springs and recyclable packaging.

Jo’s room will show you how to create a cozy and sustainable space this winter. “I would lay down blankets and scarves, change all my lamps to LED bulbs and use second-hand and pre-loved pieces, use natural materials to make a home as low-impact and stylish as possible,” she says.

Jo’s top tip

“Use what you have. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your home is to clear out wardrobes and old shelves and find out exactly what you have,” she says.

Aoife Tobin.
Aoife Tobin.


Aoife Tobin confides that her focus is on making our homes our refuges or sanctuaries this season.

She is the founder and principal designer of design house Style So Simple, an award-winning interior design studio working on both commercial and residential projects across Ireland, Europe and the United States.

DFS Palace four seater sofa in blue velvet.
DFS Palace four seater sofa in blue velvet.

“I like to put sumptuous fabrics in neutral tones, so if relaxed luxury is your thing, I think you’ll love my choice to make your own home your sanctuary,” says Aoife.

“Our homes are our space to show who we are and what we like.”

Aoife’s top tip

How can we create a peaceful space for ourselves in this crazy world?

“Lighting can create a calm and peaceful atmosphere in our homes, look at adding candles and table lamps in areas you want to relax in and dimmable lights throughout the home is always a good idea to have full control over the overall atmosphere in every room,” says Aoife.

“Choose colors not just for trends, but how you want to feel in a room. An example of this is a nice moody navy blue or green in the living room to create a cozy feeling. Blues have been shown to lower blood pressure and greens help reduce anxiety, so both work great in bedrooms too.”

Jen Connell.
Jen Connell.


Jen Connell’s specialty is Regencycore inspired by her love of French and English traditional interiors.

Jen Connell's house on House of the Year.  Photo: RTE
Jen Connell’s house on House of the Year. Photo: RTE

Jen is a creative director with over 10 years in the industry, developing lifestyle content for brands and sharing her passion for glamorous decor on her Instagram @jenconnell.home.

Her first house in Dublin was featured on RTÉ’s House of the Year. Recently she embarked on a new adventure with a move to a Georgian country house in Co Limerick.

Her decor is inspired by music, film and French and English traditional interiors.

Jen’s starting point for her elegant room is the DFS Palace sofa in lovely pink. With its traditional Chesterfield silhouette, elegant rolled arms, knotted back detail and raised wooden legs, the Palace sofa brings instant glamor to any space.

Jen’s top tip

“The key to a romantic, regency quintessential look is to opt for luxurious fabrics like velvet and silk in soft tones and layer with gilt frames, antique pieces and your favorite artwork.

Jen's house featured on RTE's House of the Year.  Photo: RTE
Jen’s house features on RTE’s House of the Year. Photo: RTE

“My favorite tip for making this trend or any other work for you is to choose items that you have an emotional response to,” she says.

“A piece of furniture, fabric or small decorative item may remind you of one of your favorite films, or inspire a sense of nostalgia and evoke a precious memory. If you like it, it’s right for your home.”


Athlone native Susan McGowan specializes in the design of luxury residences and imaginative commercial spaces.

Susan, whose interior architecture and design studio Ashen & Cloud will take center stage at the permanent tsb Ideal Home Show, designed the overall look and feel for sofa specialists DFS, taking inspiration from the DFS “Thingsters campaign” which champions personality-led interiors .

Susan McGowan Ashen &  Cloud.
Susan McGowan Ashen & Cloud.

Susan worked with DFS and Jo, Aoife and Jen at the DFS Interiors Inspiration Centre.

It takes the form of three room sets packed with personality. Susan, who returned to Athlone to build a house for her family after a few years of working and living in Dublin, will also be known to many via her Instagram account @Ashenandcloud.

She wants the space she and her co-creative designers designed to allow visitors to “draw inspiration from all the different ideas, having your home as your retreat, sustainable living and chinoiserie chic,” she says his.

Susan’s top tip

Susan has a passion for color schemes. What is her most important advice for putting together your own palette? “When you start with a blank canvas, find something that’s going to be definitive,” she says.

“It’s usually something you’ve decided you like…a floor, a wall color, an anchor piece of furniture or even a fabric you like.”

  • See DFS
  • The tsb Ideal Home Show takes place from Friday 21st October to Sunday 23rd October at the RDS, Dublin

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