A colourful life
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.