high-rise living room

They offered me this flat in a high-rise block  – on the top floor.

At that time I became a priority because I had 2 young children –  a boy and a girl.

The flat was filthy.

I think drug addicts had been in it, they had drawn on all over the walls. It was really bad.

Now they check it out and upgrade it before the offer it to people – but in those days they didn’t.

view from high-rise flat

There are CCTV cameras, a concierge and security here so it felt safe. I was happy to take it because I knew my children would be safe living here.

I often think to myself: what if I were disabled or if I couldn’t go out?

But you also have a phone that you can use to call down to the concierge, so there is that back-up as well.

It’s nice because you have such a  good outlook… the windows are low. You can watch the world go by.

Some people are stuck in wee bungalows, but in a high-rise you can see everything. I think it’s good. You don’t seem so closed off.

high rise view home

Usually the lifts are working. Last week there was no lift.

Living here it’s very quiet and the grounds are kept very well.

In the other high-rise blocks they are trying out an idea fencing it in – with a concierge. Without that you would have young people coming up the lifts all the time and sitting in the back hallways and drinking… or whatever.

But now they monitor all that so it is a very safe and secure environment.

The disadvantages? Not having a garden.  Definitely… not having a garden. And not being able to hang your washing out.

High-rise blocks move in the wind – and that can be scary.

The first time I noticed it was when my Christmas decorations were swaying.

I thought: Oh no!

But after a while you get used to it.

The flat was in such a bad state I just gutted everything.

I really had to get down on my hands and knees and clean it with Jeyes fluid.  Dogs had been in it and the smell was awful. So it needed a real good clean throughout..

I stripped wallpaper… paint… everything.  I put new wooden floors down. You couldn’t have kept the carpets that were here!

kitchen in high-rise block

I think they replace the kitchen and toilet/bathroom every so many years.

As yet I haven’t had any replacements.

We had new windows, new front doors and new soil pipe, new smoke alarms and so they do look after the buildings for you.

Because it’s a Housing Executive flat you are limited to what you can put in to it. You can’t make it as comfortable as you would like – because it’s not yours. 

I like a nice home and  I’m continually re-decorating.

Interior design is something I have an interest in. I would have liked to work in it.

pink sofa and brick wall in flat

I love colour. It makes you feel good.

Bright colours make you smile.  I just think colour is what I’m all about. The brighter the better  – as you can see.

And, because I have no garden,  I love my plants –  I try to bring the outdoors in.

For five days a week I’m out of the house at 8am and not back till 6pm.

At night I’ve other commitments.. my mother… my grandchildren. I really only spend the weekend here – and that’s spent catching up with cleaning and washing.

 internal corridor to bedroom

For a couple of years I had my daughter and her kids living here.

Because I am on the top floor of a high-rise block they couldn’t have bikes and stuff – and there were toys everywhere.

All their furniture was here too. So once they moved out it was more or less about putting it back to what suits me.

upcycling  workshop with wallpaper

I have turned one of the three bedrooms into a workshop because I want to upcycle furniture.

It has worked out really well because it is a great sized room.

Now that I have my wee workshop I’m spending more and more time in it.

In winter when I come home from work I can’t really do a lot. Because you really need the natural light you’re not doing as good a job. 

My weekends are spent upcycling. I find it very therapeutic.

TV, chair  and curtain

I blog interiors worldwide…. Australia, America, France… and they are all brilliant!

There’s elements in each of them that I love. I get inspiration from them and try to make things look as good – on the cheap.

That’s a hard thing to do, but I enjoy it.

I’m always investing in my home in some way. Whether it is upcycling, re-arranging furniture or making curtains

It’s not the latest trends that I go for. It depends on how I feel. If I see something that ‘speaks’ to me I will buy it and then I work colours round it. 

I don’t mind if colours don’t match- because I like it to be eclectic. Often, it’s just whatever fits in my mood on the day. 

It really is about experimenting.

I do like a feature wall.

I just painted those walls grey – but I don’t like them. Next week I will paint them white.

It’s all fun to me. And it’s my taste…. my home.

When people come they always love what I have done. They say: “you could make something out of nothing”.

bedroom with view in high-rise

People think high-rise flats are tiny but these are good big flats. This room is 18 foot by 12 foot.  My bedroom is nearly as big as this and it has full length windows.

Your home is your home. This is me. It’s comfortable for me. You have to make a home from whatever you have.

There are people who are less fortunate who are working and have to be resourceful from wherever they can from charity shops.. churches. That doesn’t take it away from it being their home.

A home becomes a home over years. It continually evolves.

It’s not an instant thing.

Here, you can close the door and you feel safe in the four walls. I think it’s the security and peace and quiet, now the family have grown up

blue dressing table and plant in bedroom

There are some people who don’t have an interest in their home. There are others where everything is sitting like a new pin. 

I like a ‘house’ to look like it’s lived in. That’s my personal taste.

When you re-decorate it’s the only way you can change things.

As a woman there’s only so much I can do.

It’s the ‘male’ thing of electrics, plumbing. all the big things that you would like to be able to do….but, have to pay someone to do it. Although I try to do as much as I can.

I can’t afford to buy a house or move so in a way I feel like I am ‘moving’ whenever I re-decorate.

Which would probably be every two years.

Fifty years or so ago when the architects who designed this high-rise didn’t think about the whole space. They just plonked in a cupboard anywhere – even though it ate into the room.

I took them all the cupboards out and bought free standing wardrobes instead.

family ornaments and cards on white sideboard

‘Home’ is my security – not financial security – but as in well-being.

This is a home where family and friends can come. It’s comfortable and safe. And hopefully when people come they will have a sense of peace – and that you are a good hostess.

Nuala Rooney

I am designer, educator and researcher developing creative and holistic human-centred insights within the social/spatial sphere.

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