Secrets of an Interior Designer: Sharon Johnston

Many of us wonder what it would like to be an interior designer or dream of having a designer visit our own home! An interior designer definitely needs to creative and adaptive, with an eye for style. We took some time to get to know Irish interior designer Sharon Johnston. Sharon lives in Co. Dublin and was a winner on RTE’s ‘Showhouse’ interior designer series. Sharon gave us some amazing insights into her exciting career as a designer. She also tells us about a project she recently completed using pieces from EZ Living Furniture.

interior designer

How did you become an Interior Designer?

My parents and grandparents owned a newsagents and a green grocers respectively. I was always rearranging the sweets according to colour to make the cabinets look more appealing- I suppose I always had an eye for colour!  After finishing school, I worked in the fashion industry, creating visual displays for the shop window and shop floor. Fast forward a several years, I took a career break after my second son was born to look after my 2 boys, both under 2!

After about a year or so I realised that I needed to do something that I really enjoyed. I took on a home correspondence Interior Design course. I also completed a Start Your Own Business course to get myself up and running. The joy that I get when I complete a project and see happy families has proved to me that I made the right decision to start my own business. I am still very passionate about my work.

interior designer

Can you remember your first project as an interior designer?

In 2009 I was selected to design a showhouse for RTE’s ‘Showhouse’ programme. Two interior designers had to design identical houses in just one week. Members of the public were then invited to view the completed showhouses and select a winner.  I completed the project on time and within budget and I was delighted that the public selected my house as the winning Showhouse! It was great fun and even though the camera was recording my every move, it was a fantastic experience and I would do it all over again!

What is the main goal that your clients want to achieve?

Coming out the other end of the recession, most clients have done little more than paint their houses. Many clients are happy with their location but their families have extended or grown up. So the main requests that I receive are from families looking for more space, better storage solutions and improved lighting. This is so important as we are so deprived of natural sunlight in this country. We achieve this by extending, removing internal walls to create open-plan living areas. Changing the furniture, lighting and colour schemes also makes a huge difference. I will always work within my client’s timeframe and budget.

interior designer

What are your current favourite interior trends?

I have always been a fan of using a neutral colour on the walls throughout the house. Then, I bring in an accent colour to each room to give it a different identity to the other rooms while keeping a good sense of flow and light. I also like to inject some pattern by using feature wallpaper, finishing with beautiful curtains, colourful cushions, fabulous lighting and trendy touches such as wall art, candles and glassware.

Grey is still very popular this year and looks like it will be in our designs again in 2017. The key to getting the best out of your grey colour scheme is to use a couple of shades of grey with an accent colour to compliment the overall design. I have also mixed and matched furniture pieces such as bespoke armchairs with a different 3 seater in my designs. This really creates your own individual design whilst also adding texture and colour to the room.

Tell us a little bit about the project you recently completed using furniture from EZ Living?

One of my recent projects was to redesign the living room and dining room for a couple whose family have flown the nest. They still visit regularly with their grandchildren. The previous colour scheme hadn’t been updated in a good number of years. Primrose yellow walls, dark woodwork, fireplace and mahogany furniture were absorbing all the light in the rooms. The living room with its large window received the morning sun; while the dining room had sliding doors leading into a conservatory but was not benefiting from the afternoon sun.

I immediately wanted to create bright rooms with a cosy atmosphere that were also practical for their grandchildren. The design was created using rich cream wall paint and I added a different feature wallpaper in each of the rooms. I wanted to paint all the dark woodwork white and resand and seal the maple hardwood floor. We didn’t want the rooms to be bland so I visualised using 2 tone oak and cream furniture to add a sense of richness to the design.



...and after!
…and after!

I was delighted when I found what I had visualised in EZ Living and I arranged to bring my clients to the Airside store for their approval. My clients had been used to a recliner chair each so we chose the Monroe recliner in a taupe coloured fabric. The matching 3 seater sofa had a recliner on each end but my clients felt that they didn’t need any more recliners. I selected the Stanford 3 seater which I had designed in a taupe and cream floral fabric to complement the recliners. Not only that, we could have delivery within 2 weeks, a really important element for my project.

...and after!
…and after!

The clients previously had an imposing 7ft dining table. I selected the Versailles oak top and cream base extendable table to replace it, with 8 cream wooden back chairs with light taupe seat pads. I also selected the Versailles sideboard, which looked beautiful in front of the feature wallpaper. This created the necessary storage required. The complete fit out commenced on a Monday with all the painting and wallpapering . It was completed 2 weeks later with the arrival of all the furniture. My clients were really happy with the bright and stylish redesign with comfortable yet practical furniture. I also got the seal of approval from the children and grandchildren!

We asked Sharon to pick some of her favourite pieces from the current EZ Living Furniture collection!

grey-fabric-corner-sofa-erosEros Grey Fabric Corner Sofa

  • A modern and contemporary style sofa with chrome feet.
  • Complimentary shade of grey and easy to work other colours into the design.
  • Maximises space with the corner seating.
  • The low armrest gives the illusion of more space in a room.

Reily Wall Mirrorsilver-wall-mirror-reily

  • Large circular mirrors are a great way to bounce light around a room.
  • A modern and contemporary design to complement the sofa.
  • The design of the mirror will create a feature on any wall particular over the fireplace but equally on a feature wall in a dining room or kitchen.

metal-table-lamp-miaMia Metal Table Lamp

  • Metal hammered base is very on trend.
  • Grey shade will complement lots of colour schemes while also creating a cosy atmosphere.
  • Would sit well on a lamp table beside the Eros sofa, on a console table or position 2 lamps on a sideboard in a dining room.


If you’d like to find out more about Sharon Johnston’s work, you can visit her Facebook page here or contact her directly on 087 9973325! 



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