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Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 25 January 2022

'I wake up to the sound of birds chirping': Inside this traditional Irish cottage with a flower garden

Michelle Fallon takes us through a day behind her front door.

Source: Michelle Fallon

About the home

Where? Corbo, Roscommon (just outside Roscommon Town)
What type of home? Typical Irish cottage
How many bedrooms and bathrooms? 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom
When did you move in? December 2008

About you

Name: Michelle Fallon
Age: 43
Occupation: Compulsive homemaker/DIYer and part time content creator
Who else lives there? Just me

What made you choose this home?

I worked in London for 16 years and tried unsuccessfully to buy a flat. After being gazumped for the third time I came home to Ireland for a holiday. My dad offered me a site with planning permission on it and I said I wasn’t ready to move home but if it was OK, I’d do up granny’s cottage as a holiday home.

Every time I came home to work on the cottage I found it harder and harder to drive back to Knock and get on the flight to London. Before I knew it, I had handed in my notice and moved back to Roscommon full time.

I’d always wanted to live in a cottage and had visualised it somewhere by the sea with roses in the garden and a white picket fence. I got exactly what I wanted, minus the sea.

Which place in your home do you love the most (and why)?

I just love my kitchen, in particular my farmhouse kitchen table, because that’s where I have the most memories of dinner with friends and family. It’s where I run my business, teach my workshops, and where I design and make my own products.

I bought the table in a second-hand shop in London. I can remember what I was wearing the day I bought it, how much it was and how excited I was as it was exactly the one I had on my vision board.

It has more memories attached to it than any other piece in the cottage. I’ll never get rid of it. I think that’s what is so lovely about holding on to pieces of furniture in your home, the memories connected with them. Nowadays people are too keen to paint over things or replace them, which is such a shame.

In the summer, I love my hammock in the garden. Contrary to popular belief, we really do “have the weather for a hammock” in Ireland. There’s nothing more amazing on a summer’s evening than swinging in the hammock and listening to the birds singing.

Which place in your home do you love the least (and why)?

My spare room. It’s cold, dark and small. I call it the “craft room” but it’s really just like a walk in craft closet. All my fabric and crafty supplies are in there and it’s a mess to an outsider’s eye, but I know where everything is.

Take us through a day in your house, room by room.

My days totally vary as I work freelance, so I’m working from home one minute, in a hot desk the next, visiting clients, etc. I’ll go through the average Sunday as that’s the day I tend to spend all day at home.

7.00 am: Wake up to the sound of birds chirping outside and the sun beaming through the shutters. I’m lucky to have dual aspect windows in my bedroom so at night I get the red glow of the sun going down and in the morning the sun coming up. As it’s Sunday, I like to stay in bed, reading a book, listening to podcasts or catching up on magazines.

8-10.30am (sometimes much later): I’ll make breakfast in the kitchen. I love long lazy breakfasts on Sunday. I’ll make fresh coffee with my most Instagrammed kitchen item — my Delonghi coffee machine — and depending on what’s in the fridge, it could be a simple croissant or scrambled eggs, asparagus and smoked salmon.

Depending, too, on the day, I will either bring it back to bed, or if it’s sunny I will take it alfresco and sit out the front of the cottage in the morning sun.

10.30am: I love a long lazy bath on a Sunday morning. I’ll light candles and choose a nice playlist on Spotify. Since painting the tiles on my bathroom floor, I seem to enjoy spending more time in there, although I do tend to sit in the bath and think about all the other DIY projects I want to work on.

11am – 7pm: I will do my favourite thing — faffing! I generally spend the day “cleaning,” basically carrying a pile of stuff from one room to another, doing housework or working on some crafty DIY at my kitchen table, and weather permitting, going outside doing a bit of gardening. Cottage flowers are high maintenance!

Is there anything you’d do differently if you were doing it again?

In my next house I will be much more forceful about my opinions and what I want. There were so many things I wanted in the cottage when I was doing it up but I let tradesmen talk me round and I compromised WAY TOO MUCH! They are very fond of telling you things can’t be done, and it wouldn’t look right.

One example is my radiators. I wasn’t here the day they were installed. I specifically said to centre the one in my bedroom on the back wall. Now it’s more to the left than the right and drives me crazy everytime I look at it. That and my windows; it’s a traditional Irish cottage with thick walls. I wanted window seats in the window bays and/or open down to the floor but instead they were all built up and it also annoys me.

The layout of my bathroom was also something I compromised on; I specifically did not want the toilet to face the door but it does.

Having said all that I LOVE my cottage and am perfectly happy with its imperfections.

‘The front room is full of treasures’: Inside this 1920s redbrick near Dublin’s Botanic Gardens> 

About the author:

Emily Westbrooks

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