‘Your kitchen table can change your life’

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From the boardroom to the kitchen, the table is the one non-negotiable piece of furniture for Ruth Kennelly.

TV and movie sets inspire this interior designer so it’s no surprise the Succession series is at the heart of the living space she has created for the upcoming Ideal Home Show.

Ruth herself, after graduating with a degree in English and Sociology from UCD, took her seat at British Steel’s boardrooms, in Cardiff as well as London.

She started her working life in logistics and it proved to be a good foundation for interior design.

The Dublin woman made her career move over two decades ago. “I was always just so interested in design and buildings. And at British Steel I also learned so much about project management,” she says.

Dulux Heritage Oxford Blue Ultramarine.
Dulux Heritage Oxford Blue Ultramarine.

Step into Ruth’s rooms at the Ideal Home Show and you can expect the royal treatment — but without the attitude demonstrated by Succession’s king of the castle Logan Roy.

Because the TV character is famous for his notion that we “civilians” are NRP — not real people.

A living room painted in Dulux Heritage Pebble Grey and Indigo.
A living room painted in Dulux Heritage Pebble Grey and Indigo.

Not so Ruth. “Interiors can have such a positive effect on people’s happiness,” she says. “I am interested in design when used to the benefit of the way people live.”

This is where our conversation leads to tables. I want to know if, in 20-plus years of styling spaces with her clients, any “magic wand moment” has stood out for Ruth. “I love to see how a person’s day-to-day life can be altered by their living space and the one thing that I’ve noticed above all is that a kitchen table that functions well can change how a person lives their life completely,” she says.

“Without a kitchen table, people may feel they can’t have friends over for a meal, can’t have people for Christmas dinner. People might have a table covered with books and magazines so they might have their dinner at a bench. Then, when they clear the table, people start coming over.

Ruth Kennelly.
Ruth Kennelly.

“As soon as the kitchen table goes in, or is cleared, there’s a candle lit, they start having dinner together, or having others over for Christmas dinner, start baking. I’ve always been amazed at what a difference it makes.”

Was this a one-off? “I’ve seen it happen many times over the years,” she says.

Ruth hangs her hat in “a busy spot”, she says. She shares her Dublin home with her three children, her husband and her golden retriever Lola.

ANTIQUES

An antique enthusiast, Ruth’s design studio, RK Designs, is aptly based in the 18th-century courtyard of Marley Park House, along with other workspaces of artists and creatives.

Ruth’s passion for fine art and antiques is reflected in her work with clients who are looking to create uniquely bespoke homes.

Her art collection features uplifting pieces by Irish botanical artist Yanny Petters, as well as Mike Fitzharris and Brian Ballard, showcased in her kitchen gallery wall in her own home.

Ruth’s client portfolio is diverse from small to large residential projects, as well as commercial work all over Ireland. Her work extends to the homes of many international and Irish celebrities She and fellow interior designer Ciara Drennan, Drennan Interiors, have created hipstoric living rooms for the Dulux Heritage Interior Design Hub at the autumn permanent tsb Ideal Home Show.

The Ideal Home Show takes place from October 20-22.
The Ideal Home Show takes place from October 20-22.

An overriding trend celebrated at Maison et Object 2023 in Paris, this blends the historical and the contemporary.

Ruth’s showroom zone also has nods to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby but it is the TV series Succession that “absolutely nailed” the revivalist art deco look,” adds the Dublin designer.

“The bold geometric shapes, luxurious materials and intricate details together create an opulent interior with a classic yet austere edge — no lazing around on these sofas!”

In the space she has dreamed up for Dulux at the Ideal Home Show, Ruth works the trend of the moment “hipstoric” — which, she says, goes beyond simply adding an antique or vintage piece to a room.

A living room in Dulux Heritage Romney Wool and China White.
A living room in Dulux Heritage Romney Wool and China White.

“Hipstoric is an accessible version of this style that can be worked into any interior,” says Ruth. “Antique writing desks have become practical again and ideal for smaller laptops. Auction rooms in Ireland contain some of the most beautifully made furniture that can add glamour and elegance to the corner of any room.

“The reason I picked Succession as a theme is to give the idea that you can reference your favourite show or movie to get inspiration for interior design. It’s a very accessible starting point for anyone embarking on a new interior scheme for their living room or bedroom,” says Ruth.

Ruth has also just returned from Maison et Objet in Paris where hipstoric was a key look. Hipstoric is an interior aesthetic described as a blend of old and new styles, the clash of the contemporary with antique or vintage pieces that always tell a story. It’s personal, individual and well-considered. Crucially, the look is sustainable, she adds.

Ciara Drennan.
Ciara Drennan.

Interior designer Ciara Drennan rocks this look in her own home in Dunboyne, Co Meath. She says: “I love this look because it’s all about being experimental and breaking the rules, there is no right and wrong. Hipstoric exudes its own personal style. Think art deco dining table with modern chairs or a Louis XVI console table with an industrial floor lamp.”

A hallway painted in Dulux Heritage Waxed Khaki and Midnight Teal.
A hallway painted in Dulux Heritage Waxed Khaki and Midnight Teal.

The contrast between styles can add depth and interest to a space, adds the mum-of-two, originally from Dublin. “A hipstoric home should tell a story, so try to include family objects or mementoes that have special meaning for you. These could be photographs, paintings, art objects or heirlooms that reflect your personal and family history. It’s a way to honour your old furniture within a modern home,” she says.

Ciara bought her first home when she was just 21. “I developed a huge interest in everything to do with design and renovation when I had to renovate my first place myself,” she says.

“I lived with my best friend; she was studying interior design and I was studying business. I started helping her with her projects. I started knocking down walls, and building kitchens in my own place.”

Ciara’s passion for colour, interior architecture and fabric led her to switch from a business to a creative career in interior design 20 years ago. Ciara also works with clients who are building new houses or renovating existing homes.

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