Victorian Home Restoration: Five Minutes with Darran Heaney

Victorian Home Restoration: Five Minutes with Darran Heaney

We recently caught up with Darran Heaney - an interior design enthusiast from Dublin who is more commonly know as @oldvictoriannew on Instagram. We chat to Darran about his ongoing Victorian home renovation project. He gives us the inside scoop as to what you can expect when undertaking this type of design project.

Darran recently featured our Yaounde chandelier is his master bedroom makeover.

Darran, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m Darran, originally from Dublin and now living in Phibsboro with my partner Eoin. We have lived in our house for four years now. I work in education by day but interiors are a real interest of mine.

I’d consider myself relatively handy when it comes to DIY and will try my hand at most things. I also love saving old furniture and antiques and using them around my home.

Your background isn’t in interiors, how did you become interested in home décor?

Interiors has always been a hobby for me. Growing up I always loved painting my bedroom and researching colours and patterns.

I renovated my first house when I was 25 and the passion grew from there. When we undertook our period restoration several years ago, I started to spend a lot more time researching and planning the renovation and interiors.

I spend a lot of time browsing interior magazines and watching renovation programmes. It is something that really engages me and helps me switch off. It also allows me to be creative and gives me a creativity fix that I might not necessarily get in my day job.

What influenced you to capture your renovation journey through your blog and Instagram?

Instagram was a way to document the renovation process. The community is also really supportive and a great place for ideas.

I started out taking some really basic photographs each day I visited the site and posting them. The interest grew from there.

Running my own website is another platform for me to share my interior ideas. Any skills I might learn I can pass on to others through the blog.

Old Victoria New Residential Exterior
Old Victoria New Residential Living Room

Your blog acts as a resourceful guide to budding home renovation enthusiasts. What inspires your content creation ideas?

Any projects I attempt myself, I usually share on my blog. I want to help people create a home they love, regardless of how limited their budget might be.

I try to keep my posts practical and short and always encourage people to give things a go themselves. There are things that the professionals will need to do, but when it comes to interiors, a lot of it can be done yourself.

There is a great sense of achievement when you finish a project and save some money in the process.

How were you inspired to begin a period renovation project?

I don’t know if I was inspired exactly. I have always loved period homes.

We decided we wanted to buy one but any of the houses we viewed within our price bracket all required a level of renovation work to make them habitable.

It was more a case of being willing to take that on and also being a bit naive. It was very challenging at times but worth it in the end.

We now have a home that we love and is designed just how we wanted. It is not for the faint hearted and a renovation will test your patience and push you to your limits. I think if you are willing to immerse yourself in the process, you won’t regret it when you come out the other side.

What has been some of the bigger challenges you have faced throughout your home renovation?

There have been a few! I have yet to hear of a renovation that didn’t run into some issue or complication. The one challenge that sticks out in my mind is the new roof.

We were a few months off completion when our builder discovered woodworm in the beams in our attic. This was missed by our surveyor and left us with no option but to replace the entire roof.

This set us back hugely, as we had to use funds set aside to complete the renovation to tackle this.

It was a case of making the decision overnight and then running with it. We are so glad we didn’t wait a few years and tackle it then.

At the time, our builder said it might be fine for a few years, but if there was a big snow, the added weight on the roof could become dangerous. The following winter we had one of the worst snows I can ever remember!

We are so glad we made the decision to replace it now.

Old Victoria New master bedroom with Mullan Yaounde chandelier

'Yaounde' globe chandelier in the master bedroom of this Victorian renovation project by Darran Heaney

You opted for a dark, bold master bedroom colour. Can you describe how you put this bedroom décor together?

I am a very visual person and I like to create mood boards for rooms when I am designing them. It helps me move the idea from my head onto paper and I can sit with the ideas and play around with them and change them.

Going dark was always something I wanted to do in the bedroom. I painted the ceiling dark too and it is the best decision I made there. I sleep better and the beautiful dark railings colour makes it such a restful and snug space.

Have you any words of wisdom that you can offer someone who might be taking on a design project?

Stick to your guns on design aspects of the project. Don’t be afraid to push for things you know will make the difference.

You will be the one who has to live there once the work is complete and the builders have long gone! Shop around too.

I always got two quotes from tradespeople. I also always searched online for products we needed in the house and this often saved us money that we could then spend on other things for the build.

Lighting is an important part of any interior and is often overlooked. Do you have any tips on preparing for lighting in a makeover or renovation project?

Think about how you are going to use different spaces in your home at different times of the day.

Consider dimmer switches if you are lighting a space that has several functions.

For example, we have a large open plan kitchen diner. We need bright lights for cooking but when we want to relax in the space, we can dim the lights to create a more calming atmosphere.

I would also encourage people to use different types of light sources, such as lamps and wall lights. These can all add interest in a space and help create a wonderful relaxing atmosphere.

Old Victoria New Residential Dining Room
Old Victoria New Residential Kitchen

It is clear you have a natural flair for design. What has been your favourite room to style?

I love our living room. It has a 12ft high ceiling and I love the mix of old and new furniture in that room. I have two bold blue velvet sofas facing each other, which are the centrepiece of the scheme.

I added a vintage Persian rug, some interesting pieces of antique furniture along with some more modern pieces. It is a fantastic room to relax in, especially when the fire is lit.

What have been the key lessons you have learned throughout the whole renovation process?

The three things I have learned are:

  1. Have patience - renovations take time to get right.
  2. Save for the things you really want rather than settling for a cheaper option. You most likely won't get around to changing it for several years and your stop gap becomes a permanent fixture.
  3. Finally, give yourself some breaks during the process. It will be important to stop and reflect and make decisions. It is all worth it in the end.

Finally, we have to ask, would you recommend Mullan Lighting?

Absolutely! The fixture I have in my master bedroom is so stylish. Everyone admires it. It came so well made too. My grandad was from Glaslough in Co. Monaghan and he was a talented joiner and carpenter. He always said that some of best craftspeople and makers came from Monaghan and he wasn’t wrong!

Thank you Darran for taking part in this interview. We thoroughly enjoyed learning more about your beautiful Victorian home renovation! I am sure our readers will appreciate your wise words and top tips.


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