Sisters Laura Gaffney and Ciara Doyle agree on a key ingredient for the perfect summer party. The busy moms who started a home furnishings business during the 2021 pandemic are in unison, “Be prepared!”
They’re the ideal focal point for entertaining at home—whether you’re hauling the rugs and the gang outside or want to gaze out at the rays from behind the glazing.
“The better you plan ahead, the more you can enjoy the time with your guests,” says Laura.
She and Ciara, co-founders of Lil & Co Home, cite tablescaping as the other key ingredient in their recipe for successful hosting. “Summer is the perfect time to catch up with family and friends, and a beautiful table goes a long way in creating a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere,” says Ciara.
Ciara notes that “often the best memories are made around the table,” adds, “When it comes to table styling, attention to detail can make all the difference and let your own personal style flow in an effortless and decorative way to let.”
Her approach is to make the environment look effortless without strict rules. “Choose table linens, crockery, cutlery, vases, flowers, candles and glassware that use colour, texture and functionality to create the welcoming atmosphere you are trying to achieve,” says Laura.
“Start with a tablecloth or table runner to lay the foundation of your tablescape. In the summer we like to use our watercolor tablecloth (€109) with its subtle colours, but you can’t go wrong with the crisp white tablecloth (€100) which can be used all year round.”
Ciara adds, “Create a centerpiece by placing flowers in a beautiful vase. If your table is large enough, you can scatter smaller vases of flowers across the table to create a more interesting look.” Add height and depth with candles and pretty glassware.
“Candles are always a must for us at a laid table. They help give the table different heights, but also when lit they help set the mood and create a warm, welcoming atmosphere through the soft lighting,” says Laura.
“Add layers, textures and colors with placemats and linen napkins to complete the look. Mix and match your merchandise and add colors and materials.”
Interior Designer Alannah Monks, Creative Director of Oriana B, has this to say when I ask her for her advice on summertime entertaining and table setting: “Go crazy about colour!
“Play with everything from towels and napkins to dishes and the food itself.”
Alannah’s own vibrant summerware collection definitely has a holiday vibe, with ceramic dinnerware sets and melamine bowls begging for a starring role in summertime meals, indoors and out.
She adds: “We are not used to having weather worthy of Mediterranean colors and patterns. So when the opportunity arises, grab it with both hands and fill your table with playful patterns, bright tones, summer flowers and glasses filled with fruity sangria.”
Counting sheep took so much longer than usual when we were chasing these Zs during the recent heatwave. But strange as it may seem, a woolen pillow might just be what we all need to doze off.
Galway farmer Michael Burke invented the Woolow – an organic, hypoallergenic and chemical-free pillow made with natural wool fibers and a premium cotton cover. “The pillow is wonderfully breathable, keeping you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Wool is clinically proven to prevent germs and allergens, making it a must-have for people with hay fever or house dust mite allergies,” he says.
Michael, from Dunblaney, Dunmore, lives on his family’s farm which has raised sheep for more than 200 years.
As a child he helped with the family’s herd and that included helping with the shearing.
“And my father took some of the wool of the sheep that I had shorn and made a pillow out of it,” he says. “It was the best pillow I’ve ever had. There was just the right amount of support, and being a natural fiber it regulates temperature. I didn’t realize any of that at the time, I just loved that pillow.”
As an adult, Michael worked in healthcare for more than 25 years. “We spend over a third of our lives sleeping with our airways closest to our pillow, and I realized there was a real need for that old pillow that I loved so much,” he adds.
Michael converted the farm to fully organic. He is passionate about biodiversity, renewable resources and sustainability.
“We spend more than a third of our lives in bed, so investing in a good night’s sleep is important,” says Michael Burke.
Wool pillows cost €60 and €70 for a lavender-scented version. The king-size version costs €70. There is a free trial for 50 nights.
Meet the Irish artist paving the way for body positivity: Newry native Clíodhna Doherty founded Clíodhna by Clíodhna Doherty, an Irish arts collective with a mission to empower women and spread body positivity through an artistic form, all artworks brought to life for a purpose -built studio – uniquely located right on the north-south border.
Clíodhna, 27, says she wants to “enhance and celebrate the female form” in every colorful piece she produces – while offering women a creative and empowering outlet and encouraging them to share their stories through art.
Committed to creating a sustainable, vegan offering, Clíodhna does not use black colour, instead opting for vibrant vegan colors to ensure the brand stays true to its ethos, meaning all black accents are added digitally.
The brand is also working on a made-to-order service, reducing landfill waste and reducing carbon emissions.
“My goal has always been to create Ireland’s first artistic brand that empowers women through the medium of art,” she says.
“I have been involved in the creative arts field for many years and am delighted with the support I have received to date and can’t wait to further my artistic voice both online and offline in the years to come.”