A former Voguette, BELLA HUDDART is an INTERIOR DESIGNER and mother of six who lives in Barcelona and loves spending weekends in Ireland. Here she tells us why she finds it so easy to unwind in CO. CARLOW …
I think of it as flying from one ideal city to another. When I touch down in Dublin from Barcelona, I’m already looking forward to wearing the trousers I’ve left waiting for me in my wardrobe. They are grey and cloudy, much like the sky over Ballon where I spend the weekend with my partner Christopher who owns Sandbrook House, a period property built in the early 1700s that sits on 25 acres near the Carlow/Wicklow border, and is available for hire. I love the newness of feeling, yet the familiarity, and I always wonder at how emerald green everything looks. I go for a 7k run as soon as I can and often set off in the sun, encounter rain and hail, then the wind gets up – four seasons in 45 minutes! Arriving from a Mediterranean city which is all oranges and blues, the grey/blue/green palette of Ireland is restful and serene. I use the same palette when decorating the house. I like things to feel the same on the inside as they do on the outside.
My two sons Eddie, 15, and Johnnie, 21, go to school and college in Barcelona but my four other children Georgie, Gussie, Joe and Flora all live in London where I also spend some of my time. They live in my flat and pay me rent and even our work lives overlap: Georgie was my assistant on my last interiors project. When in London, it’s all about appointments to see suppliers – Rose Uniacke, Jamb lighting and Christopher Howe are favourites. In Barcelona, I do all my paperwork and admin. In Ireland, I sort out my archives and plan my next project. I also find time to work on the next room in the house that needs attention. I yearn for a lived-in look which is one of the reasons why Irish style suits me well – it’s about home comfort, not hotel comfort. No wonder I find it so easy to unwind here.
On Friday evening we might head to the pub in Clonegal for pints of Guinness, then have supper next door at Sha-Roe Bistro. We often end the night staying up for hours drinking whiskey in the bathroom of Sandbrook – well, it’s more of a sitting room now: once a higgledy-piggledy maze of three poky rooms off the master bedroom, I knocked down walls – with the help of Dennis the builder and Jon the painter, and Margaret Buggy, a fantastic local curtainmaker, it was transformed in a flash. The moonlight streams in and it’s magic.
On Saturday, we head to the farmer’s market in Carlow for cheeses from Elizabeth Bradley (www.carlowfarmhousecheese.com), Greek olive oil and meat and vegetables. We tend to have at least one gathering every weekend so I cook a stew on the Aga, and chat as I work, which is a real pleasure. After a long lunch I put on my Mackeys boots and we go for a walk. After all the sociability and activity, we look forward to a cosy supper and log fire. On Sunday, I might help Christopher, Jackie the manager and Joey prepare the house for the next lot of guests who might be renting it for a weekend or even longer. We look after every detail, down to the scent of the house, something I am obsessive about and have totally sussed for every place in my life. In Ireland, it’s Amber & Lavender by Jo Malone. It’s nice to think the house is rented out in our absence, I hate to think of uninhabited spaces. Everywhere I live is occupied in my absence thanks to my kids!
In the afternoon, though I never want to leave, I head to the airport for the flight back to Barcelona. I’m permanently juggling but I only allow the London bits to become stressy – once I see my boys, I know that giving them the sense that they can live in any city, soak up any culture, learn any language, is a liberating feeling.
This article appeared in a previous issue, for more features like this, don’t miss our February issue, out Thursday, February 2.
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