'If you have a dream, go for it' - writes Anne Tuohy as she charts the origins of her Room Junkie service.
You all know Room Junkie as a brand and a concept, so I thought that I would share my story with you, and introduce you to the person behind the brand.
My name is Anne Tuohy, I am based in Letterkenny, in the North West of Ireland, where I live with my husband, three sons and two dogs. I originally trained as a nurse, and was a stay at home Mum for years, both of which I loved, but Interior Design has always been my abiding passion and obsession.
Our first family home was a beautiful old house in a leafy suburb of Dublin, which we bought in the summer of 1992. Mortgage interest rates suddenly went through the roof (no pun intended!), and we soon realised that we now owned a lovely wreck, which we had no money to do anything with.
This was the catalyst for me to perfect my Interior Design skills. I knew that I had a natural gift for putting interiors together, and a good eye for design, so I decided to study the subject professionally. I first studied with The Regent Academy of Fine Arts in London, and then with Limperts Academy of Design in Dublin, where I was awarded a coveted Diploma in Interior Design with Distinction.
My life’s mission was to transform that old house into a fabulous, functional and stylish home, on a shoestring budget. I found that I became obsessed with finding creative and inventive ways of compensating for my modest funds. I wanted it all! A stylish high end look that totally belied the budget.
This was the start of my “More Dash than Cash” philosophy, getting the look without the spend. This story has a happy ending, I achieved my goal of creating an amazing home, which we sold, when we relocated to our beloved Donegal, and built our dream home overlooking Lough Swilly.
Fast forward a few years, and I was contacted by an independent TV production company who asked me to take part in RTE Television’s Showhouse challenge. This was a reality TV show where two Interior Designers were asked to bring a bare shell to a showhouse in six days, with a fixed budget, and with the cameras rolling throughout. On the seventh day, the public viewed the house, and voted for their favourite.
A sane person would probably have said no, instead I created my first showhouse, for my first ever client, in six days with the country watching every single move. An added bonus was the fact that my client was none other than the lovely Shane Filan, of Westlife.
He loved my house, and so did the public, and I won the challenge strongly. Again, I had put huge effort into creating an innovative design that is no way reflected the budget. That house was full of cost effective inspiration for first time buyers. What I wouldn’t give to have that opportunity again?
You can actually watch the show here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2D0cekdpjCo
I was hooked.
All my life I had passionately believed in the positive benefits of living in a well-designed and inspiring environment. Most people want to live in a beautiful space that reflects and supports their personality and lifestyle. Most people need professional design assistance to realise this dream.
The economic global recession changed all that, and I realised that very few people would be able to afford to hire an interior designer in the traditional sense any more. This saddened me terribly, I was determined to find another way, and that’s how Room Junkie was born.
I have put huge effort into the Room Junkie Facebook and Twitter pages, where I consistently share advice and design inspiration. I have also established Room Junkie TV on YouTube, and regularly shoot informative and inspiring Facebook Live videos.
I have also established an Interior Design Masterclass, which I have brought nationwide, where I share all my insider tips and secrets, and so much more. The journey does not end there however, as all the Masterclass graduates join the Private Members Group, where they will have lifetime access to me, and to a wonderful like-minded bunch of people, (who are mostly women).
For the past two years I have been writing a book which shares my design process, and shows you exactly how to create the perfect home all by yourself. I have promised myself that, no matter what, 2019 will see this baby finished and published. I don’t honestly know whether I will self publish, or try to get a publisher, but I do know that it will be published this year.
Room Junkie offers a full, start to finish design service. This is mostly new build homes, extensions and renovations, workplace redesign or even a full room revamp in your home. I absolutely love the whole process of getting to know someone really well, and creating the perfect home for them, that they probably might not have achieved on their own. Because I don’t have a shop, I have no allegiance to any supplier, and will always source best value and quality for my client. I would strive to save my fee for my client over the course of the project.
However, to make great design accessible to those on a budget, the live Masterclasses, and my affordable Designer on Call Service means that you can have professional support available to you, as you need inspiration and guidance. This is really important to me, particularly if you are building a new home, and are finding it all a bit overwhelming. I want real homes that really work.
Room Junkie wins Jacqueline Golds #WOW – Women on Wednesday award
Lady Jacqueline Gold, CEO of Ann Summers, and such an inspirational business leader, has a competition called #WOW, Women on Wednesday, where she seeks and chooses three female led businesses to promote.
When selecting the three winners, Jacqueline looks for businesses that are interesting, that have strong brand values, and that she thinks have potential to grow and succeed in their industry. She looks for quality products, well designed websites, and entrepreneurs who appear to have a good business sense, and who have thought about what the consumer wants, and how to deliver it. (These words I have copied and pasted directly from her website. Hers, not mine.)
She picked Room Junkie. What more can I say?
Jacqueline also stays in regular contact with all of the #WOW winners, offering advice where needed.
Just before I won, I said that I was was going to do something brave and bold.
Well, this was it. I knew exactly how hard it would be to catch Jacqueline’s attention, but I was determined that I would. I didn’t even tell my husband that I was applying!
Apparently fortune favours the brave, and I am overwhelmed and thrilled with my win! So if you have a dream, simply go for it, you might just surprise yourself on the journey!
The ex-UK Dragon, Theo Paphitis gave another lovely boost when he picked Room Junkie as a winner of his #SBS competition for small businesses.
I met him in Birmingham in February, and needless to say I was delighted with this amazing recognition. I am the only Irish Interior Designer ever to have been given this award.