The highlight of the event will be a talk by architect and TV broadcaster Declan O’Donnell, as well as other speakers such as interior designer Niamh O’Donovan. Admission is free but there are limited tickets available. Anyone thinking of attending can book through Eventbrite for an exciting afternoon of renovation information accompanied by cupcakes and tea.
Curated by St. Anthony’s & Claddagh Credit Union and St. Jarlath’s Credit Union, the event is a showcase of home renovation and industry experts to help you with all the challenges of renovation. These include interior designers, smart home experts, energy efficient home experts, architects and more.
Also on hand at the event will be representatives from both Credit Unions to provide advice on the home renovation loan Renovate360?. Details of the loan are also available on renovate360.ie where credit union members can borrow up to €50,000 for home renovations.
Speaking to the Advertiser this week, Declan O’Donnell of ODKM architects said he is looking forward to the visit and to taking in some of the fantastic architecture around the city.
World class architecture in Galway
“I’ve been to Galway loads of times, and I always see something new. There’s a great deal of history and some very interesting historical buildings far and wide in the area, but there are world class contemporary buildings in Galway spearheading a vibrant architectural scene here, and this is what I find most exciting.
“I still haven’t had the chance to visit the Palas cinema by Tom de Paor, so I’m hoping to visit this time round. Not without controversy (I wonder how the locals feel about it... ) it’s a building that obviously seeks to challenge but enlighten the user, so I’m very intrigued by it’ atmosphere - and also to see how it operates as a cinema because I love the movies. “
Declan set up ODKM in the middle of a recession. Has that journey been all the more fulfilling because of the timing?
“I would say it’s been all the more challenging. I’l never forget making the move from a world class architecture practice in London, into a shopfront in Terenure amid the worst recession in a generation. Myself and my partners (Ciaran McCoy and Barry Kane ) were either mad or inspired, but I have no regrets.
“We’re approaching 10 years in business this year would you believe, and have achieved a lot along the way so it’s all been worth it. It’s great that we took that risk and believed that we could do good work in a time when very little was happening, and it has certainly made us stronger, and all the more appreciative for the practice that we have built up since those early days. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Moving on the conversation
Does he think that audiences at events like Renovate 360 have an increased awareness of architecture and its possibilities?
“For sure, and it’s been building for a few years now. The TV shows have definitely helped move the national conversation forward, because we really did need a little push. I think most people can now appreciate the difference simple things like colour, or light can do to transform a room, and that we have great shops and online outlets to get some really cool ideas and bring them to life in our homes.
“That was unthinkable 10-15 years ago. I do think we are ready for another little push though...there’s so much going on in Ireland now in terms of design and building, that I think it’s time we moved the conversation forward a bit.
Do architects like Declan have to reign in people’s expectations when they start thinking about their dream home, or is it the opposite?
“I think a bit of both. I’ve had clients that go for it straight out of the blocks (usually followed by a crash and burn later ) and then others that are excited and petrified in equal measures and therefore struggle to make any decisions at all. The life of an architect; designer and counsellor in equal measures.
“Designing and building your dream home is a rollercoaster (I know because I’m currently doing it myself! ) so with so many decisions to make, most people find themselves going back and forth a bit as they try to weigh up a few decisions simultaneously. Budget is such a huge factor of course, so it can be a struggle trying to pick the tiles you want knowing they’re not within budget....but you might just do it anyway and cut back somewhere else.
“This is a constant pendulum swing of design decisions that are made as you progress, so there will usually be compromise somewhere along the way.
Has he found that people are downsizing in order to make homes that fit their lifestyles?
A little yes, but this is just part of the overall spectrum of lifestages that we see in everyone around us. We also have people on the way up looking for bigger homes for growing families....so it’s just part of a bigger picture. I think the real issue is that we are starting to appreciate that we must respond as designers and architects to the full life cycle of our buildings, and of those who use them.
“Maximising a house, for a middle aged couple with three or four kids shouldn’t be the end of the story of that house, or indeed the people who use it. It’s probably where we have stopped in the past. When the kids leave, who says the parents shouldn’t leave for pastures new as well....to something better suited for them. Why not?
Can you transform your home for an affordable amount these days?
“Of course - this is an easy one!! Good design isn’t about money, it’s about ideas. We’d all love huge budgets to open things up and add in lots of nice new things, but this isn’t always possible. With friends and family I see this all the time, so I’ll say to you what I say to them; embrace your inner designer! I always recommend that you evaluate the layout of the problem areas first and be brutal in deciding what works and what does not. Sometimes changing the swing of a door, or inserting a piece of glass between 2 rooms can make a huge difference to things like flow and light which are crucial to get right. After this, colour is your friend as it can drastically change a space and is such a great driver of mood - and it’s only paint, you can literally do it yourself. There’s so many great places to source cool stuff now that there is no excuse not to scroll through a few social channels (get on Instagram for plenty of inspiration ), pick out a few images that you like and get it done over a weekend. Does anyone remember Changing Rooms?”
What are the current trends in home design?
“Trends are interesting in the design world. It’s not like fashion, which can be short term and season to season. Interior trends endure, and overlap across four or five years. I always advise caution as well with trends, as home renovations can be expensive...so make sure you don’t end up re-doing the kitchen in a few years.
“Stick to classic styling on big ticket items, and then play with trends for the interchangeable items. Trends are plentiful so the ones for me that are still building and enduring are based on our re-connection with nature. Natural, organic materials–such as wood floors, stone, and daylight and plant life–remind us of the exterior and brings the outside and nature, in.
“Married to this, sustainable hand made objects and feminine tones and colours are the go to looks at the minute for calming neutrals. If that’s not to your liking, then colour saturation is still right up there, effectively wrapping yourself head to toe in one singular colour across walls and furnishings.
“My own personal favourite colour, black, is still enjoying a resurgence, especially in bathrooms as it’s all about dark sultry palettes with luxurious marble finishes to heighten the indulgence. Black kitchens are also everywhere at the minute. They’re very cool, and depending on styling it could be a classic look that stays around for a long time yet,” he concludes.
To hear more from Declan and to get some great advice and tips on how you can transform your home for an affordable amount, get along to Renovate 360 at the G Hotel this Sunday from 2-4pm. See details on eventbrite.