love suite and display cabinet

I love my home, it’s where I’m happiest. It’s not special…. but it’s special to me.

I used to be a real mad collector and this house was full of antiques. But after my son died, 23 years ago,  I thought ‘what’s the point?’.

It’s more minimalistic now, but there are still bits that are important to me.

We have lived here for 46 years –  me and my husband and my son. We were married 51 years past in September.

My two boys were born with spina bifida in 1975 – twin boys. My son was in a wheelchair all his life, so our life was completely organised, focused you know on routine at that time. 

When you lose someone like that it just changes your whole outlook –  it’s just entirely different. But, when you have other family you have to move on.

I was born in a thatched cottage four miles out the road and moved to this town when I was ten.

I went to work  as a hairdresser and married a man from County Derry. We lived there for six years and then I trailed him back across the bridge  to County Antrim.

We are happy we picked this site  – because we love it.  Everybody moved in around the same time – within two years.  23 children grew up in this street.  Fantastic!

Absolutely fantastic place to live. But, sadly, there are no children now.

This neighbour is here longer than me, and my next-door neighbour about 30 years.

This house cost us £4,500 – that was in 1971.

It was a struggle, you know.  We almost didn’t buy it because it was £500 more than we expected. When I think of it now….

When we moved in there was no upstairs  – just downstairs. Two bedrooms – that was the cheapest way to do it. We had three children inside two years and four months so it was a big change.

Eventually, when the boys were a bit older we put on this extension and the other room upstairs and we moved up there. Then I got ill and I couldn’t manage the stairs.  

We put in an ensuite in the main bedroom upstairs so I could be up there but come down once a day.

There wasn’t a lot of money about but you made do.

We lived with that black asphalt on the floor for three or four years. In those days you didn’t go and add it on to your mortgage… you didn’t think about it. We didn’t have a big social life or anything  so you had to be happy in your own house.

And we were happy.

This is the extension, it is  more modern.  

We spend all day here. When my son’s here, he spends most of his time in here. We very seldom use that other room.

The house is completely adapted to suit us.

Because my son was in the wheelchair  we put in a ramp for him at the back that meant he had access straight out.   He was about ten. We put in a disabled shower for him around that time.

It was adapted to suit the children’s needs when they were small and as they grew up it had to be changed a bit. I was going to take the shower out when my son died but my other son uses the disabled shower as well.

It’s no great, big modern shower but it works, it functions for us. We tried to keep it as a normal family home as possible.  And that’s how it is.

I myself developed rheumatoid arthritis and had a session in a wheelchair so the ramp was good. It’s great to have that when you are a bit older.

I can still manage the stairs.  

There’s been quite a lot of changes to the house – but not because of style or fashion. It was to suit our needs.

We like the people who live here and belong to a local church.

Our social life is here.

For both of us ..bowls, badminton .There’s just a good community and it’s near the town – which I can still drive into. Everything is on hand.

The boys went to school here. My grandson went to school up the road and we cared for him every week day for the last 11 years.

He is the new generation  – and still loves to come and stay.  His toys are still here. To me it’s the right ‘place’ for us.

I have a big family connection,  lots of cousins. I think I’ve 52 full cousins.  They are still round here. I go down the street and I have a fair idea of most people in this town.

My computer is here and  my linen.  I  have a few bits and pieces of textiles and I sew a bit. We’ve all got our own ‘wee space’.

That wee room of mine, I love it.

To me there’s nothing quite like linen – although I’m a big fan of William Morris, Arts and Crafts.  I have an interest in textiles in general and used to give talks on Irish linen.

The Old Bleach Mill made textiles up until the ‘30’s. My mother worked down at the Old Bleach as a 15 year old up until she got married and then she went back when I was 11.

She loved it and she collected all the memorabilia.  I inherited all her linen and I just love it. I love to work with it.

mahogany fireplace and penguin pattern love seat

When I looked for material to do this place up I was influenced by the  Old Bleach 1930’s Penguin pattern.

 I would have gone with trends very much when I was married first but now I don’t. I was married in ’66 and was a child of the sixties so I still love the sixties. Who doesn’t love the sixties!

There was  a white television.. white coffee table..that’s how it started off. This was hessian and the floors were plain carpet. It was very ‘in’.

Now I see things in books from the sixties that I actually had.

The one thing I don’t like about this house is that fireplace.

There was a very sixties fireplace – it was the style that was in then. Sometimes I regret taking it out.  I would never do that again –  I hate this fireplace.  I would put in a plain white fireplace.

We put in a back boiler but we never use it and since I got arthritis we don’t light the fire.

Men like natural wood. I put these doors on and they don’t match. It’s a hodgepodge. But it’s OK. It doesn’t bother me at all.

I choose most things for this house – but if my husband didn’t like something he would say.

This suite was bought in an auction. It was red velour and I had it covered. I’d love to change this room and make it more modern but I say: “What’s the point”.

I like the fashion today.

When I did this room up 15 years ago it was gold paper with gold and cream and red curtains. We had peachy colour carpet.  Then we re-decorated it… just painting over the paper, which we thought was ok.

It’s a bit more up to date. 

I don’t like the carpet any more.

The carpet is top-grade so I just can’t justify taking it up. It’s on the stairs. I like the neutral shades that are in now and would like a nice grey carpet.

My mother made that before she was married – about 1930. There’s lots of wee bits here like that.

The blue china came from my husband’s mum. It was the first china that I got my tea out of when I was going out with him. Things like that  mean something to us.

Some things that are still important to me.  

There’s a few bits in there.. the basket at the top was one of my mother’s wedding presents, 1941.

That’s Alfred Meakin. I went on a binge of collecting all that stuff. I look at that now and think: “what did I collect that for?”

They nearly have a heart attack!

My son calls this stuff “ trumpfery”. ‘Mother’s trumpfery’.

So that’s what they think about it. I don’t mind: If they throw it out, they throw it out.

This is my mother in law’s dining table in my kitchen.

That’s another thing I treasure.

It was in my mother in law’s house since she was married and I just think… how many people have sat at this table and how many have eaten off it. I wouldn’t just throw it out.

My house is certainly not as modern as other people’s, but I think it’s practical. It works as well.

My husband does the garden.

We have quite a big garden at the back and it’s getting too much for him.

He’s 78 and he’s been out there all this week. We get someone to cut the hedge.  But we still spend a lot of time there.

In a spring morning in the month of May I go out in my bare feet and walk round my garden and I’m in heaven, I love it.

We‘ll cope with it as long as we can. That’s the best way to go on.

We could do with a new kitchen, it’s well worn, but we’re not going to bother.

Believe it or not, I have my original bathroom, it’s sky blue. I love it!

That sixties thing is still in me.

People say why don’t you put in a nice white bathroom? Why would I bother?  We changed it around and put a bidet in… put new tiles on the floor and new tiles on the walls. Apart from that it’s original

We had to replace the toilet and had some trouble getting it.

That is the colour of carpet I’d like through the whole house. 

We have a fantastic view from here. You can see right out over the town. …that’s where I grew up and can see the Old Bleach chimney. 

I do like this room, it’s bright and cheery.

The house is too big, it’s far too big.

I would have moved maybe ten years ago, to a smaller house that would do our son when we pass on. My husband said. “No. I couldn’t cope with all that moving.” And see now: five years, ten years later on..I couldn’t move.

You shouldn’t – but you do – become quite emotionally attached as you get older.

 I would find it very hard to live somewhere else and go past here and see someone else living here.

You have to be happy in your own home.

I love my home.

You go away, you come home you say you had a good time but it’s nice to be home again – and I think that’s important.

This is my space and this is me.  And even though we have had problems in our family to cope with, we are  happy here.

Nuala Rooney

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

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