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Aisling Quigley has transformed a rented house in Sant Pere de Ribes into a one-of-a-kind home with her own two hands—plus some spools of thread, a bit of clay and a rainbow palette of colours. “I’m such a homemaker,” she laughed. When you consider that the majority of the decorations, and even some furniture, are the result of her craftiness and creativity, that seems like an understatement.
She moved into this white, two-storey house with her family nearly six years ago, around the time her second son, Alex, was born. A while back she lived in Barcelona, “but we were always heading out this way, to see friends or go to the beach, so we thought why not just move here.” And she’s never looked back. “I love it here,” she beamed. “It’s really become a commuter town, so I have an easy way to get into the city but reap the benefits of living away from it in this great community.”
As you step through the sliding glass doors on the side of the house, you enter the dining area. Although the four-person dining room table is from Ikea, Aisling has added her own touch with some colourful chalk paint. A plethora of secondhand pieces have been converted in the same way, including an elegant, white chest covered in stylish engravings that, contradictorily, stores her boys’ plastic toys. The dining room is connected to the living room where there is a fireplace that Aisling admits stays on all winter. Scattered on her grey, corduroy sofa are over half a dozen cushions of differing orange, yellow and pink patterns. “Oh yeah, I make couch cushions, too,” Aisling said humbly.
On the walls and practically every flat surface—from the mantle over the fireplace to the bookshelves and a bright yellow, chalk-painted, secondhand entryway table—are family photos and images to remind them of where they came from, a past too special to be forgotten. Each photo has captured a special moment, displaying memories and family ties. Gorgeous black and white shots from Aisling and Colm’s wedding. Old, sepia portraits of their parents. Aisling smiling with her four siblings on the youngest sister’s 21st birthday. And a personal favourite of everyone’s: a photo of Aisling’s whole family from 1986, when they were at Bunratty Castle, dressed in old-fashioned costumes, gazing out with rather solemn expressions. Aisling’s mother, who was visiting for a week in June, explained, “the photographer told us that decades before, in these types of photos, people did not smile. To have the picture look authentic, we had to be serious.” So what did her family immediately do after receiving these instructions? They started laughing. “As soon as one stopped, another would start,” she said. “I didn’t think we would ever get that photo taken.” There are also a few screen prints of the town in Ireland where Colm is from and an Irish wall hanging that symbolises ‘happiness’. These details of the interior design are what best display the love that fills this home.
From this area of the house you can head into the ordinary kitchen where Aisling whips up extraordinary meals from recipes in a series of The Hairy Dieters cookbooks. Then it’s past the traditional Spanish front door—the kind where the glass swings out of the frame to circulate fresh air throughout the breezy house—and upstairs to the bedrooms. In the bedrooms, it’s not the bedspreads or the wardrobes that stand out, but the small things that Aisling takes pride in and cheerfully draws attention to. In her bedroom, she has little bowls with rippled edges in different colours and sizes, which hold jewellery, spare change and other loose items. These, along with a fruit bowl, butter dish and vase downstairs, she made in a year-long pottery class. “I went every Thursday for three hours,” said Aisling. “It was a couple of us women, and some nights we would have a few glasses of cava and get chatting, and time would just fly by.”
From the balcony off the room that Aisling uses as her office/guest room, you can see the outdoor swimming pool across the street, which is connected to a gym, and an expanse of leafy green vineyards beyond. Aisling gestured up the street and said there’s a children’s park just out of sight. “We have it all right here.”
After we looked into her boys’ rooms—typical, with toys and adolescent clutter—Aisling exclaimed, “Let me show you the garden. It’s really the best part.” The sun-drenched yard has a tree house, which was built before they moved in, with a slide that the boys still use, and a doghouse, currently vacant. “We’re trying to find a rescue dog to adopt,” Aisling said, but they haven’t had any luck so far. “Alex keeps asking for one, so hopefully that doghouse will soon be occupied.” They also grow potatoes, spring onions and herbs in their garden. The spacious yard is the perfect place to soak up some rays on comfy lounge chairs—the cushions of which Aisling sewed, of course—or slip into the shade with a nice cup of tea.
Aisling works hard to keep her household running—entertaining her two active boys during the long summer days with no school, always having a new, artsy project in the works, playing hostess to the assortment of guests that come to visit. But it pays off. She has a happy, close-knit family and a home that is the epitome of cosiness, all of it created with love.
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