A colourful life

Herald Sun - Property - - FRONT PAGE -

ARTIST Clare O’Donoghue has al­ways lived a life in­fused with colour — she can’t imag­ine it any other way. “Colour makes me so happy; it makes me feel alive — I just want to swim in it,” Ms O’Donoghue said. “I would rather die than live in a home filled with beige. I would not cope.” Her love of vivid hues is re­flected in her home, where ev­ery room is a glo­ri­ous re­flec­tion of her pas­sion for up­lift­ing, joy­ful shades.

“I al­ways go with my gut feel­ing that if you love some­thing, it will work, so never mind what colour it is,” Ms O’Donoghue said. “My only colour rules are not to use red and def­i­nitely not black with red, or green and yel­low to­gether. Other­wise, any­thing goes!”

She shares her vi­brant Ocean Grove home with hus­band Shan­non, their son Louis, daugh­ters Ruby, Mi­etta and Perri and labradors Hen­ri­etta and Bowie. Her con­nec­tion to the area is deeply felt.

“I’ve lived in the area all my life and my mum was born here, too,” Ms O’Donoghue said. “When you wake up and see the beach and the river, you just feel like you’re on hol­i­day — it’s just so beau­ti­ful and I’ve al­ways felt very lucky to live here.”

Bright­en­ing the walls of her home are her colourful art­works, big and small.

“It’s al­ways a re­volv­ing door, be­cause they get sold,” Ms O’Donoghue said. “It’s ex­cit­ing, be­cause there’s al­ways some­thing new on the wall. I get bored pretty quickly, so sell­ing them def­i­nitely solves that is­sue.”

Her artist ca­reer be­gan by chance. Orig­i­nally a pas­time, paint­ing grew into a busi­ness af­ter friends and fam­ily pestered her to cre­ate pieces for their own walls.

Cus­tom or­ders started rolling in from in­te­rior de­sign­ers and stylists and her range now in­cludes art­work, home­wares and light­ing.

“The great thing about art is that you get to ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent things all the time,” Ms O’Donoghue said. “In an of­fice, you can end up do­ing the same things over and over ev­ery day, so I en­joy be­ing able to ex­plore dif­fer­ent things in my paint­ing.”

Rather than hav­ing a ded­i­cated stu­dio space in her home, Ms O’Donoghue cre­ates her pieces in the din­ing area so she can be close to the chil­dren while she’s work­ing. “It’s pure, to­tal, ut­ter chaos,” she said. “Point blank, it’s a mad house, but they love it and tell me when they like some­thing or when they think it’s hor­ren­dous. I do end up work­ing night shifts be­cause the kids ask me so many ques­tions other­wise.”

She ad­mits that work­ing from home can be tricky but she feels grate­ful to be able to make it work.

“There are so many pos­i­tives to work­ing from home — like turn­ing up to work in your py­ja­mas,” Ms O’Donoghue said. “But the down­side is that you do have to be very dis­ci­plined.”

The fam­ily built their house from scratch and Ms O’Donoghue wanted to re­flect the coastal sub­urb’s breezy, laid-back at­ti­tude in the home’s style.

Her brief to the ar­chi­tect was “some­thing re­laxed, like an old fish­er­man’s cot­tage, with weath­er­boards, a pitched roof and a su­per low-key feel”.

The build took nine months and she said there were no chal­lenges at all.

“Ray Si­mons, our builder, was in­cred­i­ble and I adore him. There were no grey ar­eas; it ei­ther could be done or it couldn’t — very black and white,” Ms O’Donoghue said. “Michael Hig­gins, our ar­chi­tect, also nailed it on day one. They both made it so easy.”

One of the things she asked for was lots of nat­u­ral light and a U-shaped de­sign so there would be a wing for the kids, a wing for the par­ents and a part in the mid­dle where they could all meet. And this is ex­actly what she got.

“I’d say the lay­out of the home is my favourite part, be­cause it’s so func­tional,” Ms O’Donoghue said.

“We wouldn’t change a thing about the home, which is a rare thing to think at the end of the whole build­ing process.”

The chil­dren are also happy with the re­sults and their rooms are par­tic­u­larly colourful. From an orange floor cov­ered in con­fetti dots in Perri’s bed­room to a mul­ti­coloured shell chan­de­lier and a sap­phire-blue floor in Mi­etta’s bed­room, the fam­ily home the O’Donoghues have cre­ated is filled with colour, art and plenty of love.

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