Meet Paul O’Rourke; a chef in the Irish capital of Dublin. Get to know Paul (@insect_chart) who uses colour and generous servings of experimentation to transform his city-centre apartment into a feast for the eyes.

Camel Carlton Sofa

Tell us about yourself.

My name Paul and I’m 40 years of age. I’m born and raised in Dublin, where I still live today, just 15 minutes’ walk from my parents. I’m a chef by trade and have been for just over 20 years.

Describe your home.

I bought my apartment in 2009 and share it with my partner, Pawel. It’s a city-centre one-bedroom ground floor apartment, so we’ve got a nice garden, but space is limited. It was a new build, so very clean, everything white, no real detail. So it was very much a blank canvas you could say.

Wow, you wouldn’t describe it as a blank canvas today! Did you always have such an expressive interior style?

No, not all. I guess the apartment was crying out for some personality and I just slowly worked at it and developed my style. Colour was something I stumbled into really. It started when I painted the wall behind my Carlton sofa in Down Pipe by Farrow & Ball. I just loved the way it made the sofa pop. I then added artwork and realised this was my style! There’s now colour everywhere and I’m always adding pops with accessories, like my moulded beach-waste plastic bottles sourced from an artist on Instagram.

Red chair

It’s interesting, the traditional advice for small spaces is to go light, but you’ve somehow managed to work with dark tones without the space feeling oppressive.

I’d love to attribute it to years of knowledge, but it’s just experimentation and being open to making mistakes. I’ve been known to paint walls and then repaint a few days later, much to the annoyance of my partner [laughs]. I don’t do mood boards or anything like that. I just go for it. I’m sure my job as a chef helps, working with colour and arrangement; experimenting with ingredients. I love the challenge! I would say that lighting works wonders. Having a nice mix of soft directional lamps really makes the colours pop of an evening.

What does home mean to you?

Even before the pandemic, we didn’t really go out much. So, we’ve always invested in our apartment – time and money. It’s comfort for us and a source of happiness. It’s also now a hobby for me, a space I take a lot of pride in. It’s funny, if you asked me years ago whether I’d be sharing pictures of my apartment on social media, I’d say never, but everyone’s doing it now and it’s a great way to find inspiration.

Any general tips for anyone struggling with small space?

I think it pays to be ruthlessly honest with yourself, you know, interrogate the way you live and the space you live in. In our case, the apartment had a large kitchen, which you’d probably think a chef would love. But after some time, I realised we weren’t using half of it. So I stripped out the cabinets, knocked down two walls and created a downsized open-plan cooking area.

The bedroom had large floor-to-ceiling wardrobes but once again, they took up too much space and weren’t being used. So I swapped them for a BoConcept sideboard making our small bedroom feel much bigger. There’s always compromise, so out-of-season clothing is stored away in the living room as well as some pots, but being a chef, I think the pots are a nice touch! You know, it’s just the two of us, so we weighed things up and decided it was fine.

What’s your next project and why the handle @insect-chart?

I think the garden needs some attention, but I really want to fit all new wooden flooring throughout. My Instagram username? I was just thinking of a pseudonym, back when we thought privacy was real [laughs] and noticed my insect chart hanging on the wall. Job done.

Family playing cards at dining table

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