I've ogled the photographs of Gillian's LA cottage for some time. For me, they seemed incongruous to the LA I have in my mind. Which, to be fair, is made up of Real Housewives and Selling Sunset (the secret is out I have terrible taste in TV), so to see this homely, colourful and characterful house existed in LA home was news to me. Obviously, those of you who know it will pfft and laugh at my image of the place, but either way, I hope you two will be drawn to the beauty of Gillian's old LA home.
I was born and raised in Co.Cork, Ireland and moved to California 22 years ago at the age of 20 following an internet friendship turned love affair and subsequent marriage. It was mad, I was mad, and I wouldn't change anything. In the leafy Los Angeles suburb of South Pasadena, this cottage was the last place in California I called home before my recent move back to Cork, family in tow.
Ever since landing in Los Angeles, I had been completely besotted by the rows and rows of Bungalows. They are both simplistic and artistic in nature and always felt like a fairytale to me. I think there are a lot of commonly held beliefs about Los Angeles, and cosy cottages don't generally fall in line with those assumptions. Still, there is a lot of history there, many interesting and diverse neighbourhoods, and an openness that can be refreshing.
While the house was a rental, I was keen to turn it into the cosy home I knew it could be. It had barreled ceilings, quaint built-ins, a giant window facing the verdant street outside and the original kitchen layout and cabinets. It was worse for wear and its charms hidden under layers of carpet, ugly finishes and lack of care.
I employed my own skills to get homes ready for sale (I was a home stager for many years) and spent a month working on the house myself before moving in. I pulled up the carpets, sanded and painted the floors, painted the awful linoleum in the kitchen, painted the walls and created a pretty foundation that could be built upon after we moved in.
I enjoy it when a home tells you a lot about who lives there, about the inner life of its inhabitants. I am very narrative-driven and tend to think of a house as a book, and each room is a chapter in a story. Everything in a room should make sense to the whole.
Almost everything in our home is found, foraged or flea. Often, our budget necessitated that anyway, but for the most part, I enjoy the hunt, and I love finding items that feel meaningful to me and make me wonder about the lives they touched previously.
Colour and textiles have been the foundation of everything creative I have done as an adult, whether it's painting or collecting Kantha quilts and folk art. Painting arches has become almost a signature of mine. In one sense, it's just decoration. In another way, the definition of the space and the deliberate punctuation of both colour and the portal itself can impose a feeling of significance. They can feel grand or whimsical, but they always make you want to explore what's beyond. I have always been obsessed with portals and that sense of discovery. I also need balance and order in my surroundings, even when it might look crazy to somebody else. There is always a method to my madness.
The kitchen is my favourite place in the house. I truly think that the kitchen is the beating heart of the home. I like an old kitchen with a farm table at the centre where work can happen while people gather at the table to chat. The intersection of aesthetics and function is where I find the sublime. I like to see the pots, the utensils, and the food we will eat. It is a living breathing room and should feel warm and heavily used.
Books are abundant in our house, mainly because my husband has a PhD in history and is an avid fantasy and Sci-Fi reader. Most of my books are the coffee table ones. He makes me look much more well-read than I am. Ha! But after years of living with them all around, I don't think I could ever live in a space without them.
I am a collector and a maximalist in many ways - in others, I am a constant editor, refining my surroundings to align with and enhance my mood on any given day.
Having recently moved back to Cork, Ireland, and only bringing a fraction of our belongings, I have to start the process again. It's both daunting and exciting. I hope one day to own a shop here in Cork and share my love of textiles, art, and vintage furniture with people and provide an outlet for the never-ending treasure hunt I am on.
Huge Thank You To Gillian, To Follow Her Click Here!