Regina Rogers Fallon, BA Interior Design alumna: “As a designer, be yourself and believe in what you’re doing. Define your style.”
Regina Rogers Fallon is well on her way to achieving her goal of becoming a recognised name in the area of interior design in Ireland. She combines her artist’s eye and experience in customer service from Aer Lingus, with her BA in Interior Design from Griffith, to deliver a bespoke service to clients across Ireland.
From a young age Regina knew that she wanted to be an artist. However, when she was finishing school in the 1980s, the only art school around at the time was the National College of Art and Design, which was difficult to get into without the proper contacts and financial resources. So for the first number of years after her Leaving Cert, instead of enhancing her creative side, Regina signed up for an adventurous career in the airline industry.
While busy at Aer Lingus and raising a family, Regina still took time to paint. A lucky break came when her uncle, who had an art gallery on Leeson Street, saw her artwork and said, “Wow! I have an exhibition coming up, would you like to be in it?” All of her art sold and it was the easiest check in her hand”. Shortly thereafter, voluntary redundancy came up at Aer Lingus and it was “now or never” for Regina to make the jump into focusing on her art. And so it was, that in 2005 at the age of 35, she launched into a career as an artist.
Her first experience presenting her work on her own was at Art Ireland at the RDS, where, again, she sold everything. While she thinks part of the appeal in her artwork has a lot to do with the vibrant colours that she uses, she definitely says that when it comes to selling art, particularly in a trade fair setting, “it’s not just the art on the walls that counts, but how the artist presents herself/himself”. While other artists at the fair “were never making eye contact,” everything about her stand was professional, from her desk showcasing her portfolio to the clothes she chose to wear.
Why the move into Interior Design?
In another moment of madness, and in the height of the Celtic Tiger, Regina thought that a degree in Interior Design would add another level of creativity and skillset to her portfolio. She wasn’t quite sure what the degree entailed and why it would take three years, but she decided it was a good time to go back to school.
What was the experience of going back to school like?
When Regina got the Interior Design brochure from Griffith College, she recalled, “I looked at it and had no idea what I was signing up to. How would it take three years to coordinate cushion colours? What was CAD?” Despite these questions, she was “just determined to go for it”. Regina loved the creative side of the curriculum but admits to shedding a few tears over the technical elements as she found CAD, Photoshop, etc. overwhelming at the beginning. Once it caught on she then flew with it.
How did your Griffith classes prepare you for the career you’re in now?
“In industry now you need to have a degree; it’s too competitive,” states Regina. “In an industry where you’re working with architects and tradespeople, you need to know what you’re talking about.”
Instead of designing for yourself, you’re now designing for others. How has that changed your perspective?
Regina is adamant that her success in interior design is in having her own brand and style: “When clients approach me they approach because they like my style. There’s something that appeals to them. They understand through visuals on my website or social media feeds what my work is like.” While some designers might be repetitive in the solutions they provide to their clients, Regina puts a huge effort into understanding what the clients want and goes the extra mile to customise products in order to achieve the perfect design. If she feels she can’t deliver what the client wants, she’s not the right designer for the job.
Advice to people starting out in interior design
Regina can’t stress the importance of professionalism enough: “You can have amazing designs and mood boards, but you have to operate as a professional. You need to sell yourself. A client is buying a piece of you, your creativity.” Another key element is knowing a thing or two about running a business. Regina suggests taking a “start your own business course”, looking for Enterprise Ireland grants, creating a decent website and using social media. From there, it’s all about finding the right suppliers: “Suppliers represent the way you design. Finding the right products is key, as is making sure that they provide good customer service to clients”. If those aren’t enough good pieces of advice, Regina stresses that, “networking is huge. It will always lead to something else, another contact, another phone number.” So focusing on how you will build your business is just as important as what you learn in the classroom.
Another key piece of advice is to “know your style and what you want to do. Do you want to design sofas or do renovations and structural work with architects? You need to set yourself goals and create a simple business plan: what you want to do, where you want to be.”
It seems like you’ve really created a niche for yourself as a colour expert. How did that come about and how did you connect with Colourtrends?
Regina’s passion for art is apparent in her approach to colour: “I’m always fanatical about colour. When it comes to colour, I’m just obsessed, it has be perfect.” About five years ago she had the opportunity to design a room for Ideal Homes and since then she’s been able to do that every year. Regina is now under the Colourtrends brand and does their colour consultancy around the country.
What challenges do you face running your own company?
Regina’s biggest challenge is time. She needs to divide her time between trying to give 150% to her clients, and acting as the Head of Marketing and Accounts. But customer service is absolutely essential to Regina. If she’s going to be five minutes late to an appointment, she calls the client. Part of the challenge is figuring out “what is the cut-off point”. Now that she’s more established, outsourcing some of the admin work is key.
What are your long-term goals?
For Regina, her goals are clear: “Keep going. Build my profile. Be recognised as one of Ireland’s top interior designers. End up in position where if someone mentions my name they know who I am, what my style is and how I operate.” In addition, Regina is hoping to do commercial work. While she really enjoys the residential work, it can be “very personable”. Commercial work will bring a different element of experience to her portfolio.
What are you up to in your free time?
With everything on Regina’s plate, it’s no wonder she doesn’t have much free time. She’d like to travel a bit more this year and she has a family which keeps her very busy. If she could, she’d “press the pause button” a little more. So this year is all about “keeping the right balance”.
Regina’s ending words are definitely worth heeding: “Nothing comes to you without hard work, hard graft. Especially as a designer, be yourself and believe in what you’re doing. It’s important to define your style; you’re selling your personality and style. Never move too far away from that. You need to be brave enough to stand out. Refuse to be just what the market wants.”
How can people reach Regina?
To find Regina, you can go to her website, Griffith Alumni Network or LinkedIn page. She’s also open to being a mentor so please get in touch!
“Showhouse Showdown” was a rare and exciting opportunity to showcase my style on TV, and the production company VIP and Pivotal Construction helped make it a very enjoyable experience. the brief was simple and precise from the offset, design a home for “family living”.
Having two boys I know the necessities and design implications needed for a family home and this took centre stage when generating the concept for my design.
I designed a sofa, derived from a simple sketch, for comfort and slouching but also to withstand the imagination of a young child (tried and tested as a wrestling ring) using a commercial rated velvet on a customised frame it ticked the box for durability and adding an abstract Harlequin fabric (cushion) that set the colour scheme throughout the downstairs of the house.
For this project it was important to implement my style and my love for simple and timeless design, in order to find the perfect balance of texture and colour in the sitting room I ran the abstract design from the Roman blind across the floor in a customised wool rug, David from Rugs by Design dyed wool to perfectly match the Indigo blue in the velvet and 2 Colourtrend colours Ocean Cruise and Oyster Bed, the lovely chalky green on the wall covering and white based grey that acted as the perfect neutral throughout the house. The heavy texture in the Lincrusta Linoleum wall covering connected the TV room and sitting room and completed the design perfectly. Harvey Norman sponsored the show which gave me the opportunity to use an Italian range of furniture they sell exclusively in Ireland “Domitalia” which represented my style perfectly, the modern tv unit and sideboard were the ideal storage solution for both rooms.
I was ridiculously excited about using some usually creative light fittings from Slamp and Limelo Design throughout the house which completed each room with a modern yet creative feel.
The kitchen was offered as standard and had a restricted budget, using an innovative textured door and colour was “my get out of jail card” for showcasing something a little different, the challenge was to achieve a counterbalance with colour by using a very light white Grey in the worktop and tiles. My obsession with Indigo Navy carried into the hall with a Navy feature wall running up the stairs which co ordinated perfectly with the striped “Roger Oates” runner supplied by Matt Brittion carpets.
Using neutral tones and muted finishes delivered the objective to create a calmness in the bedrooms, by running the colour scheme from downstairs it created a simple flow and connection from one space to the other, Once again Conor and Danny from Concar designs worked tirelessly to colour match the concrete for my customised circular mirror in the master bedroom I felt it would create a feature in the room without altering the ambience.
I used the kids bedroom to let loose a little, the Forbo flooring was practical and allowed me to implement my love for distinctive colour, I think the petrol blue and bright yellow in the Scion bed range worked perfectly together to create a space that was just “fun for a kid”.
There are a couple of interesting scenarios where “paint” can visually compensate and transform an awkward space within a home, heres a couple of tips ..
1. A low lying ceiling can make a room feel claustrophobic if you install narrow vertical wall panelling and paint it in a distinctive colour applying an off white paint to the ceiling, the narrow panelling will alter your visual perception by stretching the walls, a dark Navy and a grey based white can be a luxurious combo.
2. Paint a vertical stripe on your walls (a very patient painter is required) chose a warm neutral and a distinctive colour that will coordinate with existing furnishings, avoid too much activity within the space, while a larger room will allow you to cover all the walls in a stripe, a small room will require a balance, in this case paint 2 “opposite” walls within the room in the stripe, then apply the neutral colour on the remaining walls
3. Run your wall colour over your skirting and coving once again this will give the perception of additional height to your walls.
4. To generate a cosy atmosphere within a room with a low ceiling, apply a grey based neutral, (grey based colours add warmth) on the walls and continue it onto the ceiling, counterbalance with low lying furniture, uplighting from a floor lamp and recessed lighting, avoid using a pendant light if possible this will draw the ceiling further into the space, hang a couple of wall frames vertically, and If you are doing reconstruction works changing your doors to “floor to ceiling” doors can add a ginormous transformation.
5. Create a geometrical pattern on your walls with paint, using a palette of 3 or 4 coordinating colours ..
6. Paint a high shelving unit in the same colour as your wall but a deeper tone creating a tall feature within the space.
High Shelving, low furniture, Distinctive flooring, and a heavy patterned rug with strong colour will divert attention from the ceiling.
Working with a small space:
This depends on the mood you want to create, a small room can be cosy and atmospheric
7. If you want to generate a “sense of space” choose a soft warm neutral palette and create a shading effect with numerous variations of the same colour on each wall within the room, work from the same “colour card” or if you are getting the paint mixed add double and treble strength of the colour to each pot.
8. Push back an alcove “visually” with a distinctive paint colour or wall covering,
9. If you intend to make a feature of your “fireplace wall” use a soft patterned wall covering then pick one of the neutral tones from the wall covering and apply to the remaining walls so the combo is well coordinated and understated.
Hang light coloured curtains .. proportional furniture, no clutter and a large mirror to transfer the colour from one feature wall to another
Creating the Perfect Balance
10. Creating the perfect balance and mood within a room can be difficult if you apply distinctive colour to your walls try to introduce light to medium coloured furniture, with a light and neutral palette, counterbalance with a pop of colour in your soft furnishings and/or a dark wood in furniture and flooring.
11. When applying a warm “neutral palette” to your walls continue it onto your skirting, use a lighter tone of the wall colour for the doors and architraves don’t alter the balance by introducing brilliant white .. I recommend you only introduce brilliant white to your ceilings and doors when the colour palette for your walls has white or citrus tones
12. In Ireland it is important to remember before we start to consider paint colours “Grey” is part of our environment and existing colour palette, an overload of grey can be a little daunting.
13. Where there is existing cream tones within the interior of your home, flooring etc a combination of Ivory Tusk and Shell Cove by Colourtrend offers the perfect neutral palette adjusting to a more contemporary palette yet complimenting the “yellow toned creams” perfectly, the colour combo for doors bannisters and architraves etc is perfect.
A North Facing Room:
14. Don’t try to over compensate with a stark tone (white based tone) use a warm grey based colour to add warmth and dept and avoid washy colours, psychologically a north facing room can be mood altering, create a passive and cosy atmosphere with a distinctive colour and counterbalance with bright furniture and layered lighting .. always pick your colour scheme within the space so you know exactly how it will look within the room, its important to remember when you are in paint shop you are generally looking at “colour” under florescent light,
15. Avoid cold blue tones ..
Don’t be afraid to use “colour” it is the most economical way to redesign a space .. don’t restrict yourself to colour “brochures” all paint companies have colour strips where an infinite collection of colours can me mixed, when it comes to paint colour there is no restriction, any wall can be any colour just concentrate on coordinating similar tones.
Hiring an interior designer can sometimes feel intimidating, the biggest concerns are generally, “How much will the service cost” and “will the Designer impose their own style”, however working with an Interior Designer will help you to manage your budget and avoid expensive mistakes, saving you time and money. As part of the initial design process a professional designer will invest considerable time to realise a clients requirements and style in order to build a design concept, primarily focusing on functionality.
Taking on a renovation project can be overwhelming, before thinking about furniture and fittings a realistic approach is vital, the initial considerations should be windows, roofing, insulation, electrics, plumbing, heating, energy efficiency, doors and floors, do you need to hire an Architect etc, and are you entitled to a renovation or energy efficiency grant ?
It is important to accumulate numerous quotes from building contractors, and crucial that all professionals will work well together.
It is imperative that an Interior Designer is hired at the start of the project in order to liaise with the Architect and Tradespeople, this will allow them to plan a timeline and manage your interior budget from the outset, the colour of your windows may effect the design of your interior and before reconstruction it is important to plan your interior layout.
If your budget is restricted, prioritise, invest in quality when it comes to your fixed items, a kitchen is the most important room in an Irish home, your bathrooms, fireplace and flooring should be at the top of your list. don’t be afraid to customise furniture, sofa and storage units, with quality you get longevity. Consider lighting from the beginning of the project, the influence of natural light on the building, and how you will counterbalance with light fittings. Soft furnishings and paint colour is the most enjoyable and final part of the process.
It is difficult for an Interior Designer to give an estimate for their services without meeting a client, book an initial consultation, the Designer will do a site visit, analyse plans, get an overview of the project and then put together a proposal with an estimate of cost.
This is a recent project I designed which commenced in 2016, the complete renovation of an Edwardian house in Dublin 9, this house was stripped back to its core and fully modernised, the foundations were restructured, windows replaced, and a small extension added with a full redesign of the interior. The brief was to create a contemporary style throughout that was complementary to the era of the house, “straight lines with no frills”
The most important element of the design was removing the galley kitchen and replacing it with a modern open plan space that would have a flood of natural light and would connect with the small garden area, the interaction between the scuffed concrete floor tile and a light grey granite slab in the garden allows a visual perception that the garden and kitchen are one room with dividing sliding doors.
When it came to designing the kitchen we were easily persuaded by the innovative Italian concrete door, this added texture within the space which became a strong element to the kitchen design, it not only added something a little different but was a perfect co ordinate with the matt finish navy and light grey door, For me the colour scheme was an important part of the design, creating a palette that was soft yet contemporary, a palette that connected all rooms throughout the house. The spacial layout within the kitchen was designed to allow for family visits and comfort.
A gentler approach to a “contemporary style” was applied in the original rooms, the dining room and lounge were opened out by lifting the height of the original arch dividing the two rooms, this emphasised the height of the ceiling, The under stairs “nook” added a functional area that would allow storage for books and an area for “chill”, and a light coloured engineered wood floor with a mink fleck was the perfect coordinate with the neutral colour palette, the client had definite ideas about replacing the existing downstairs fireplaces, a bespoke concrete fireplace was constructed for the lounge and colour matched, and the combination of a natural wool rug, heavy textured curtains and a bespoke navy sofa created a design that was just “simple”, as requested.”
Saving and restoring the original door front door was the topic of regular debate, it survived and looks fantastic in Colourtrend “‘Peacock Blue”, I wanted the hallway to retain that “Edwardian” feel, applying a contemporary alternative to the original tiles, the mink coloured natural wool carpet on the stairs and gentle “Shell Cove” colour on the banisters give that cosy and inviting feel to the entrance to the house.
The bathroom design was kept simple and modern, the 3 dimensional tiles sadly replaced the original fireplace and a large slate shower tray offered an abundance of space for a shower, the bespoke vanity unit added a pop of much needed colour to complete the design ..
The bedrooms retained the original fireplaces, with a soft velvet carpet to add an element of luxury and comfort.
The contemporary kitchen with it’s gently curved quartz worktop, concrete floor tiles and kitchen doors delivered the perfect space for the client, the combination of the soft colour scheme, wood flooring and retaining most of the original features within the house offered what I think was the perfect solution and redesign.