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25 June 2011

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interview After living and working all over the world, eBoutique founder Joanne Fennell tells us why there’s no place like home


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Joanne Fennell at home in Stradbally, Co Waterford

Making a house a home J

oanne Fennell’s sunroom is decorated with memories. There’s the Pioneer sound system, bought in London over 20 years ago with her orst pay cheque to play Wham! and Sinéad O’Connor vinyl records on the now decommissioned turntable. There’s her granny’s old armchair, softly draped with a sheepskin rug picked up in Copenhagen airport, layered with a throw from Norway, home to her other-half, Vidar. (“I’m afraid if I get it upholstered, it will lose some of its sentimental value,” Joanne admits.) There’s a vintage-style clock from the Netherlands; wood carvings from Vietnam, Greece and New Zealand; an ornamental angel from her mother. Pink tulips – quirkily distributed among old ketchup and lemonade bottles – remind her of the ove years she spent in the Netherlands before returning to Ireland in March 2010 to run her online home interiors store, eBoutique. After 20 years in poky city onebeds, stretching out in her sunroom is an unadulterated luxury “I love to open the doors in summer and let the sun pood in,” says Joanne. “When you hear the birds singing and the church bells ringing, you just think: ‘This is magic. This is home!’” Having left Stradbally, Co

London, Australia, the Netherlands: Waterford woman, Joanne Fennell, has lived all over the world. But for the eBoutique owner, home is where the heart is, writes Maria Moynihan.

Table runners with embroidered trim (€7); glass cake stand (€25); vase (€15); assortment of four wooden boxes (€62); jug (€7); green enamel candle holder (€15); seat pads (€14).

Waterford at 18 to work in London, Joanne has always tried to make a “home” wherever she has lived over the last 20 years. “The orst thing I did when I landed in London was go to IKEA to pick up shelves and rugs,” she recalls. “I only had my little bedroom, but I made the best use of what I had. It’s important to love the space you live in.” And despite stints in Dublin, Australia and, onally, the Netherlands, where she worked as an IT consultant, Joanne was a bit of home bird behind it all. “I had lived in cities for 20 years, but I grew up in the country,” she says. “When you’re abroad, there’s always that pull home.” Establishing eBoutique – an online home accessories store – with the proceeds of her SSIA allowed her to combine her practical IT skills with her passion for interiors

from the comfort of her home in Stradbally. The Country Chic collection includes throws, cushions, rugs, aprons, oil paintings, cake stands, tea trays and other gift items, with prices ranging from €4-€148. Joanne has also just launched her own linen collection, christened Island Living. “Ultimately, I want to try to build up a brand,” she explains. “We’re an island, so I want to bring that in and develop our own Irish style.” Despite the recession, Joanne believes there is still a market for affordable home accessories. A neutral background is easily refreshed with a few key pieces in a particular colour; in the case of her sunroom, pink tulips, retro poral cushions and dainty serviettes lend a feminine touch without overwhelming. “So if I get bored of this next year, all I need to do is spend €150€200 on new cushions, a throw and a painting, which will transform the look of the room,” she says. Though there is always room in Joanne’s house for the odd impulse buy. “When we moved in here, we had no furniture at all, but the orst thing I bought was a red chaise longue,” Joanne laughs. “That went down like a tonne of bricks; it wasn’t like the two of us could even sit on it!” CL

For more information on eBoutique and the online store, log on to




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