This Small Irish Rental Is a ‘Pared-Down Maximalist’ Sanctuary

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Purple bedroom with wooden dresser
Bedroom view from bed

Name: Hilda Carroll, a foster cat, Humphrey. Prior to that, much loved 18-year-old cat, Riley (RIP)
Location: Mayo, Ireland
Type of home: Rental house
Size: 650 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years, renting

Humphrey on sofa

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: It’s a one-bedroom bungalow originally built as a granny flat in 1999. As ownership of the main house changed hands, the house has now become a long-term rental. I have been living here since March 2017. I moved in on St Patrick’s day with my elderly cat. We put in a cat flap and she had the run of the garden. I have wonderful landlords who are happy for me to make whatever changes I want… and I have made many.

Plants galore

I’m an interior designer who is less interested in what’s trending than in designing spaces that feel like true sanctuaries. My own home is my safe space and I’ve designed it to reflect me and meet my needs. I’m also a meditation teacher and you can see hints of that dotted throughout my home through artwork and mini altars.

Peek into living room

Stylistically, I aspire to be a layered minimalist but in reality I land closer to being a pared-back maximalist. The kitchen is the biggest culprit in this regard, and a lot of that is down to limited storage. Also, I have a lot of plants, and they’re taking up quite a bit of physical and visual space.

Vintage treasures

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Unfussy, eclectic, vintage, colorful, personal

Bed reflection

What is your favorite room and why? Since I rearranged the bedroom recently, it has overtaken the living room as my favorite space. The new layout gave me the space to bring in an occasional chair, and I’ve created a meditation corner that I use every morning. There was also enough floor space to turn the bookshelves on the side, which created more surfaces for plants. The room keeps the natural light for longer than any other. And now it has more layers and textures than before and is a cozy space that I find myself using a lot more. I work from home, usually in the kitchen. But now, on a dreary day, I’m often drawn to work from this room. Before the new layout, I would have chosen the sofa.

Bedroom view from doorway

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last thing I bought was a pair of beautiful ochre curtains for my bedroom. They were secondhand from a local thrift shop.


Any advice for creating a home you love? Think about the function of each space and identify how you will want to feel when using it. Then design a space that will promote that feeling. Different personalities will need different colours, textures, and styles so don’t make the mistake of copying what you see on social media. What looks good on screen won’t necessarily feel good to you when you spend time in the space. So take it slowly. The best homes evolve — and constantly change to reflect our own changing needs.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.