Sustainable Interior Designer Amy Breen talks to DW about finding the perfect place to create a happy, healthy home.
Moving house is always a challenge, moving on the first day of a pandemic lockdown would be a nightmare for some.
But that wasn’t the case for Interior Designer Amy Breen and Software Engineer Allan Doherty and their two young daughters, Rose and Ally. The couple got the keys to their 1980s seaside bungalow in Rathmullan on Friday 13th March and have been content staying at home ever since.
“Luckily the house we were renting for the past year was in the 2km distance so it took about 40 trips in the car to move everything back and forth,” Amy said.
“Maybe it’s a blessing because we haven’t bought one scrap of anything since we moved.
“It’s made us live in the house and really understand how it works and what works for us as a family. We didn’t rush into anything, so that’s good. As an Interior Designer, I’m all for coming up with a whole plan first and not just randomly buying stuff.”
Soon Amy will begin her most personal project yet – transforming a dated dwelling into her dream family home.
Simple, sustainable design is the foundations of her ‘Wild & Rosie’ company. Amy’s home, like her clients’ projects, will be designed with the well being of people and the environment in mind and use natural materials, vintage finds, and eco innovations.
“We want this to be the guinea pig house. We would love if our whole renovation used sustainable interior design, that we could stand by every piece of furniture we get. I’m going to put ourselves to the test,” Amy said.
Amy’s philosophy is that design has a real impact on how people feel in their home. Her approach is based on bringing the outdoors in and choosing reused or vintage pieces instead of ‘fast interiors’.
She said: “Our goal is simply to champion this movement towards honest provenance – people care where their goods come from and who made them and under what conditions.
“As consumers, we want transparency and the more we look for it as conscious consumers, the more big business will be forced to give it. Just like what is already happening in the fast fashion world.
“It’s not perfect, because your options are limited sometimes by budget or what you can find for a certain space. But I think if people started consciously buying things will get better.”
The aesthetic work will kick off in Autumn once Amy and Allan have renovated the bungalow’s structure and built an extension. The outside elements of the sea will influence many steps, just as it influenced their move to Donegal.
“Our biggest goal is the simple goal of creating a happy, healthy home for our kids to grow up in. And, for us, being beside the sea in Rathmullan is the ideal place to do that,” Amy said.
Amy, who is from Co. Down, and Allan, a native of Ballybofey, started their married life and family in Dublin before deciding they needed the change of pace.
“We owned our own house in Dublin in Baldoyle, that was as close as we could get to the sea in Dublin. We were only there for three years before deciding to make the leap.
“It was down to all the usual factors that people at a certain life stage are experiencing.
“We were on this treadmill, shooing the girls out the door, dropping them off at childcare at 8am. I worked as a television producer so I was gone all day and getting home at half six, seeing the girls for an hour and a half before bed and doing the same thing the next day again. We were paying for childcare, which was probably more than the mortgage, and we thought there are definitely simpler ways to live for the same returns,” Amy said.
They calculated how they could take time to live off one wage, without the huge childcare and mortgage bills, and in Donegal, it worked. Rathmullan not only had the coastal life they craved, but it had the added romance of being the place where they got married.
Amy left her job as Head of Development of a TV production company to branch into her second career in Interior Design. Wild & Rosie was developed after six months of business training with LEO. Now, Amy and Allan are both back to being busy with work, but it’s more intentional now.
“I feel motivated because it’s my own business and Allan is lucky to work remotely,” Amy said.
“People can think it’s the dream moving from city to country but it was clearly not plain sailing, it took us the full year to settle in. We had so many heartaches on houses we didn’t get or lost out on. I think that’s the same for anyone moving or emigrating. But it’s all worth it when the settling happens, it took the year but we definitely feel settled now.”