A St. Patrick’s Day Trip to Ireland!

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I asked my good friend and photographer Sarah Winchester to write about her recent trip to Ireland.  She and her family had the exquisite honor of staying at one of the most incredible properties in Ireland and her pictures are too good not to share with you all! – Erin (Go Braugh!)

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Last summer my family and I had a true fairy tale vacation…we went to Ireland and stayed in a castle! A real life castle- Ashford Castle. This place is all your Downton Abby fantasies come to life…on steroids. The medieval castle dates back to 1228, but there is nothing archaic about this place. The Wikipedia page on the history of the castle is here  but let me tell you about our trip in my own words.

Two years ago the entire castle underwent a major renovation. Every inch of the place was meticulous restored, renovated and furnished; marble bathrooms, historic oil paintings, gorgeous antique furniture and decor, and silk wall coverings in every guest room (my two-year old may or may not have put a milk stain on one…) The property covers 350 acres with multiple gardens, woods, a clay pigeon shooting course, stables and a falconry school. Yes, a falconry school!

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Front entrance complete with refurbished Land Rover fit for the queen and the friendly doorman Patrick, who also recommend a great restaurant in Dublin owned by is cousin of course.

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Irish wolf hound statues guard the front. While real wolfhounds, Cronan and Garvan lounge in the great hall each morning after their walk, because what is an Irish castle without an Irish Wolfhound or two.

THE INTERIORS

As I said, the entire castle underwent a major renovation and restoration 2 years ago and no detailed was spared. They even have a line of wellies in every size at the front door…because this is Ireland after all.

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The great hall and corridors are complete with a chess set fit for a Lord (my little Lord) and formal oil paintings of your dogs…as one does. Not to mention a gorgeous billiards room, bar, wine cellar, spa and movie theater. The place literally had EVERYTHING!

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My parents room was located in the original Gothic wing of the castle and had the most amazing decorative pieces. Malachite obelisks and fish eye eagle mirror for the win!

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Our room, was in the newest wing because we needed an adjoining door to the kids room, but it was no less spectacular. Silk wall coverings with matching canopy bed, antique caned bench and a painting of Lord Fancypants to watch over it all.

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THE GARDENS AND WOODS

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We spent our days wandering the grounds, exploring the gardens, playing in the old ruins and “hunting for dragons” in the woods. The kids just ran wild. It was wonderful. (Warning, upon arrival, awaiting each child on their bed was a robe, slippers, cookies and plastic sword. Giving a 2 and 4 year old a sword in a castle filled with antiques and Waterford Crystal gave me a slight hear attack so we tried to regulate sword usage to outside only. Let just say we helped chop many a boxwood.)

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ACTIVITIES

We were there for 5 days which gave us plenty of time to soak in all that beauty and try a few activities as well.

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The stables were just a short walk away and filled with sweet ponies. Ridding on an Irish estate really completes the castle dream, no? I fear I have ruined my daughter for life. This place is like Disneyland but for real. “Not every trip is going to be like this honey.”

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Not to miss out on other Downton Abby type activities, we tried out hand at clay pigeon shooting. My sister and I did our best to play the part…lets just say, she is the Mary and I am the Sybil :) And our instructor, Tim, was wonderful and looked everybit the part in his wool and tweed.

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Also on the property is Ireland’s School of Falconry! Yes, basically real life Hogwarts. We didn’t do the private hawk walk but we did pop in and visit the birds. Hawks, falcons, owls, you name it. I kinds of wish we had done it, but as spoiled as we are we literally couldn’t do everything.

VILLAGE OF CONG

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Not to be forgotten is the darling Village of Cong. A short walk from the castle there are some pubs, a few book stores, shops and some old Abby ruins. The1952 movie The Quiet Man staring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, was filmed there. With the addition of a gas station or two, not much has changed. There isn’t even an ATM. My sister and I loved getting up early to take a walk through the woods to town and then back to the castle for breakfast. Again… living out our Downton Abby fantasies.

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Hope y’all enjoyed my trip to Ireland. I know we sure did. Slainte and Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all.

-Sarah Winchester
All photos ©Sarah M Winchester

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Two (Vastly Different) Celebrity Homes You Need to See

Architectural Digest shared the homes of two high profile couples this month, and while each are amazing in their own right, they couldn’t be more different. And that’s what I love about interior design- the way it can tell you so much about the lives and personalities of those who live in these spaces.

First up, the amazing New York City abode of Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent and their daughter Poppy.  Let’s start with this INSANE kitchen. The brass island, the glossy black cabinets, the floors,  the unbelievable windows???
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This is just so amazing- the architecture is so unique.  Moe proof that older home ROCK.

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An Antiques Wonderland

I saw a story about Alex MacArthur’s home in Elle Decor and just HAD to look into it more. Alex is an antiques dealer/ guru in London and her home also serves as her shop and showroom! It’s the coolest concept! The whole place is like Disneyland for antique junkies like myself!  Just take a peek into this treasure trove and check out her website for current items for sale! You can also gather a lot of decorating inspiration from every corner of her home!

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The New Domino

When I heard Domino was coming back as a quarterly magazine with all new content and a KILLER online presence I nearly peed my pants with excitement.  Nothing has ever compared to Domino and after perusing the first new issue, I can, with confidence tell you it’s back and just as good as it was.  With Domino veteran (and former Lonny editor-in-chief) at the helm the same vibe and aesthetic we all loved  in the original Domino is alive and well… maybe a tad more grown-up, but it has been four years and we all grow with time, right?

The feature that really nailed it for me was of the West Village townhouse owned by Haven’s Kitchen guru Ali Cayne.  Every inch of the place is just KILLER, and in a similar palette to my own home- lots of black, white, grey and wood. Of course seeing it is making me completely PANIC about the state of my own home which I’m shooting for my book this week…. but I have to just breathe and believe. But back to the good stuff- here is Ali’s place (and check out the extra content available only online):

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This reminds me a little of Jenna Lyon’s home.  Love the chandelier, floor, mirror and gallery wall…I just wish that rug were bigger or layered over a solid neutral larger rug.

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Some pretty details inside and out.

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Ali and I are kindred spirits in our love of black and white (and striped shirts).

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SHUT. IT. DOWN. That grey trim? That tile?

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I can;t even with that range and hood. I would probably sell an organ for one of those. And I absolutely adore the wood shelves with brass brackets juxtaposed against the tile. It’s seriously perfect.

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I mean, PERFECT. PERFECT!

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I once had a black accent wall behind my bed and I do love the look. Plus that light fixture? Yeah.

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Most perfect bathroom ever. That tub. The brass fittings. That little rug. Not to mention her CLOSET. It makes want to bang my head onto my computer screen in jealousy.

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A sleek and gorgeous office space.

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Built in heaven (earmarking this for my master suite addition starting next year) and a kid’s space that even an adult can love.

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Domino is now shopable, and has it’s own online shop for furniture, accessories and the like.  But here are some items to help you get this look as well:

Congrats Michelle and team- incredible job and we are all so thrilled to have you back!

 

The Coolest Bathroom EVER

…and it’s not even done yet.  If you want to lose an hour or two of your life then click on over to Gianetti Design’s blog to follow the progress of their truly UNBELIEVABLE new home Patina Farm.  It both inspires immensely and makes you feel really, really poor. At least that’s what it does to me.

I’ve been lurking on their site for years but this bathroom just knocked my socks off. I mean, LOOK at this shower/tub situation!

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I can’t….even….

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WHY did I not do unlacquered brass everywhere? Now we know what my master bath fixtures will look like at least….

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The sketch so you can see the overall plan.  I might feel a BIT vulnerable in a shower like that but then I’d do an unflattering shower cartwheel because LOOK AT THAT THING.

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Not to mention the other details of the house like all the iron framed doors and windows like this one in the kitchen….oh and do you even see that stove? That stove is probably more than my car. And I have a nice car. I feel I should bow down in front of it.

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All the vintage door and beams? yeah, no biggie, right?

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This is the “chicken coop kitchen”. Yup. First time in my life I have ever wished I was a chicken.

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The guest house is just icing on this insane cake.

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And the view of Ojai, California.  Oh the view.

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*SIGH*