A New Home

11 Jul

So much has happened since I last posted. Life has changed beyond my wildest imaginings … Sometimes, I take a moment, a pause, a breath – and I wonder… How did I get here? How was I so lucky? There are times when I realise its not luck – I have had a life which, good and bad, has been a struggle in finding my voice and my truth. Now, in my 40s, I am coming into my self – and it is real grounded happiness. I know this: when you live a life that is true to your core self, when you recognise your passion and your joy – then anything is possible.

Since I graduated from Ballymaloe, I have been traveling the world. But I have always returned to Ireland. There is something about this place – the feel of it – that draws me back. I think I may have found my place in the world. And certainly, for now, I have found my cottage, by the sea, and my bliss.

A few months ago, I was in Ireland, doing an amazing tour of artisan food producers. I traveled 4,000 kms in 1 week and met people passionate and focused on producing the most amazing food, with respect for the earth, kindness and presence. Thats what it is all about really, isnt it? I went to see an abalone farm, sea urchins, the incredible and beautiful women at Burren Smokehouse, lobsters, Dublin Bay prawns… the list goes on. (And I will post that journey, hopefully, when I manage to write it all in a way that is not overwhelmingly gushy!)

Not only was I inspired, but I also decided I needed a base here in Ireland – and I found one. My friends agreed to rent me their cottage, in East Cork, by the sea. I am 5 minutes from Midleton town, in an 1890’s labourers cottage, with a remarkable history. When I first saw the cottage in March, it looked like it needed some work, but the bones of the house were beautiful – I could see that. When I returned to Ireland in May, the house had been transformed – and I did a bit of my own personalisation to make it complete.

As I have settled into my home I have felt it embrace me – and have been grateful for the sacredness of living in a place which is truly nurturing. The silence of living out in the country is amazing – because its not really silence. The sounds of the animals, the wind, the rain, the sea, all surround me. The freshness of the air, the clarity of the sunshine on skin … I soak these moments up after having been cooped up in a city for all my life. I go to the Ballymaloe farm and collect fresh vegetables from the greenhouse and raw milk and I come home and I cook and welcome those I love into my space. I am blessed. And so thankful.

So, this my house – before and after. When I first visited the cottage in March 2012, I took several photographs, and once I had moved in – and made it mine – I took another series. The transformation is amazing – almost a visceral, physical testament to the internal changes that have resonated with in me … And the joy of it is plain to see. This is probably the first home I have ever lived in which is so full of light. And oh, I am embracing it! These photos are for all you who have asked to see … those of you who celebrate my happiness and my joy because you love me as I love you. Know that I hold you in my heart and bring you along with me on this beautiful journey…


This is the view from my cottage in March 2012 when I first visited. The cottage is located directly across the road from the water, which is an estuary that leads to the sea. So there are tides, and the scent of the sea, without the wildness of being directly in the face of the ocean.

View in June 2012

And this is what I saw when I returned in May 2012… amazing how green it gets! And sometimes, I am pottering around the cottage, and I look out the window and I am transfixed by how the sky changes and melds with the earth and water.

And this is what I see when I wake up in the morning from my bedroom πŸ™‚

The front of the cottage as I first saw it! The walls are so thick – its almost soundproof inside, and very warm and dry. The cottage had not been lived in for several years, and definitely needed a little bit of work πŸ˜‰

And when I returned back to Ireland … it had been given some TLC – paint and flowers and gravel. Amazing how different it looks, and feels. Brighter, and lighter, some how. Just goes to show that a little bit of love goes a long way.

My cottage from the road – clean and repainted, with the hedges newly cut.

This is the overgrown backyard in March 2012. It was so chaotic I had no idea how large the garden really was.

And this is the garden when I returned in May. Its been tidied up – but it needs a huge amount of work still. What I didnt realise is, there is an acre of land attached to this cottage, and most of it is wild. It will take a good couple of years I imagine to bring it back to its glory.

This is the back entrance as I first saw it – an extension was built onto the cottage, and the back door you see open here is used really as the main entrance.

And this is how it was when I returned. The paint colour is “Mucky Swan” !!! I think its gorgeous – and I love my plants out there. Ive added a few roses and delphiniums since so there is a riot of colour as you enter.

This is the view from the entrance of the extension. They even put a picnic table up outside! Its gorgeous on the (few) sunny days to sit out there … pure joy.

Extension – Before

This was my first view inside the cottage! This is the inside of the extension – with the internal door going towards the kitchen. On the right side of this photo is the cupboard which holds the washing machine and dryer. The couches were cleaned and eventually moved to the living room. The hideous plastic table cloth disappeared somewhere πŸ˜‰

And this was the view of the extension from the kitchen doorway.

Extension – After

This is the extension as it is now. New lighting fixtures, a lot of cleaning, and paint. I found the St Brigid’s cross (meant to protect hearth and home) at a craft shop on my travels. The rug is from India (via Ballymaloe House shop), the chair covers are from Ikea and the beanbag is from Groupon!

Dining table in the extension. Lovely how some flowers and candles can brighten an entire space. What makes it even more satisfying is that most of the flowers you see are from my garden. Who would have ever thought I would tramp around outside and pick and arrange flowers?

To the left of the entrance, Ive also created a little work space (it will have a desk eventually). Ballymaloers will recognise the four compartment recycling bin. I also have a little composting bucket on top of the bin. I found a great deal on a printer (50 euros) at Tescos. The painting on the wall is by Lydia Allen and is the menu for our graduation dinner at Ballymaloe Summer 2011.

Kitchen – Before

Β My first view of the kitchen! Its a galley style kitchen – very well organised and equipped. Obviously needed a very good spring cleaning, but you could see the potential. Cant you? πŸ™‚

The kitchen viewed from the living room. Note the little wooden chopping board built into the dividing space between kitchen and living room. I love details like that – because they tell me that this house – and this kitchen were meant to be lived in … functional and clever.

Kitchen – After

The kitchen when I moved in. The “animal head” is from South Africa – made from reclaimed, recycled plastics. The sign on the upper left is an Irish version of “Keep Calm..” which says “Keep Going Sure Its Grand”. Glasses from Ikea. Kilner jars hold raw milk from the farm. Broadbeans also from the farm – freshly picked and about to be eaten!

Kitchen with a new fridge, a sweet geranium plant, new knife magnet, and my favourite coffee maker (Aeropress). I love that the fridge is tiny – It makes me rely on fresh food rather than anything that sits in the fridge for too long. And its really a tiny kitchen – almost as small as my kitchen in KL – but its well organised and very easy to work in.

Double oven (of course) … and my Ballymaloe apron.

The built in wooden cutting board that marks the divide between kitchen and living room. My basil plant – and the amazing print my sister gave me to celebrate my graduation from Ballymaloe. Isnt it gorgeous?

Β Living Room – Before

This is the living room as I first saw it in March 2012 – viewed from the kitchen. The front door is on the right. Entrance to the bedroom is on the left.

Living room before I moved in – taken with my back to the bedroom door. Fireplace (and Van Gogh print which I replaced) and view into the galley kitchen. Very faint view of built in bookshelves on the left hand side.

Living room with a view towards the bathroom entrance (next to the built in bookshelves).

Β Living Room – After

Living room when I moved in in May 2012 – once it had been repainted and the couches had been restored. Lovely old candle holder on the mirror. This photo is taken from the kitchen.

The fireplace stove with my newly framed picture by David Choe (he of FB fame) … one of my favourite artists ever. I have had this picture for years, and brought it with me from Malaysia. Love it in the living room πŸ˜‰

Second couch, near the entrance to the bathroom. The window looks out onto the sea. On the window sill, I have placed an Irish Ogham script which says … Blessing. Each time I stop to look out that window, it reminds me what grace I live in right now.

Another view from the kitchen – the main couch, beautiful old wooden table and restored wooden lamp. And a lovely painting of milk cans. Im not sure who its by, but it just fits so perfectly into the house.

View into the back yard from the living room. Note the lovely Penan basket – its so nice to be able to incorporate a bit of Malaysia into the house. And what makes me smile is the even lovelier photograph of the beautiful Z!

Bathroom – Before

The bathroom, off the living room, as I first saw it in March 2012. OK I admit, it looks a wee bit grimy.

Bathroom cupboards in March 2012. Even grimier!

View from the bathroom in March 2012 – the hedge hasnt been trimmed in years!

Bathroom – After

Bathroom once I had moved in and it had been painted and cleaned up a bit – I love the blue and white combination. Clean and crisp and bright.

Paint does amazing things – it just cleans it all up! The bathroom looks and feels pristine.

The bathroom windows – with beautiful muslin curtains from Ikea, fresh lavender and flowers … and hedges trimmed so one can see the water!

Bedroom – Before

When I first saw the cottage, the bedroom was the room that inspired me the most – but also worried me the most. It had these gorgeous – what feel like original – wooden floors. Very rough hewn, organic and natural. I loved them. But the rest of the bedroom needed serious care.

To the right of the bedroom entrance was a window that faced the water and two built in cupboards. The cupboards were quite basic – in very rough pine wood. While they gave a huge amount of storage, they werent exactly pretty!

And inside the closets was not much better … However, at least I knew there was good insulation in the room!

To the left of the bedroom door, was the piece of furniture which made me most happy – a gorgeous sleigh bed frame, which fit perfectly into the alcove. A window looks out onto the garden and back yard beyond.

However, this side of the bedroom also contained the part of the house that most concerned me – a very clear case of mold on the walls and the ceiling. Definitely needed some help here!

Bedroom – After

The rickety old bureau at the entrance to the bedroom has been transformed – by a good lick of paint, and a beautiful old mirror placed on top. Simple things make a huge difference.

And what makes a space a home are the meaningful things which are placed carefully. My Ayah, my sayang Adik, my beads from my Goddess Mother, my stones from Spider and my Laughing Buddhas. These welcome me (and my loved ones) every single time we enter the room.

Β The built in cupboards have been completely changed – theyve been painted white, and bring such light into the bedroom. I added a gorgeous Indian rug which I felt gave colour and strength to the space. The curtains are linen from Ikea – I was going to buy dark brown velvet (dont ask where my mind was at!) but thank the good Goddess for Gina who insisted I consider plain linen curtains. She was absolutely right – and I realise am learning all the time!

The interior of the closets has also been spruced up with paint and back wall colour. I lined the shelves with bright blue lino which I found very cheap at the local Co-Op – and I bought tons of blue and white wicker baskets to hold all manner of potion and lotion and bits and pieces. I also installed the pegs on the left, and hung all my necklaces in a pretty row.

The window between the two (now cleanly white) built in cupboards holds a lovely antique tray I found at a second hand shop, and a water colour of a view of the sea. It is soul nourishing to wake up in the morning and look out at the sky and the water. Every day is different, and every day is beautiful.

And to the left of the door, is my beloved sleigh bed. I added a mattress topper I got at Ikea (makes for a blissful sleep), and sheets I had always adored from Muji. A lot of work was done here – they actually rebuilt the wall before it was painted and dealt with the mold issue. And I hand carried this precious Tibetan thangka from Malaysia and hung it as soon as I could when I arrived. It is the essence of creation – the yin and the yang – the balancing of opposites – the endless cycle. I sleep and I love in full view of the ultimate truth.

And nestled on the windowsill, by my bed, are always roses from the garden, and a Buddha to remind me of thankfulness and grace, beauty and eternal wisdom.

My home, my solace, my joy.

Thank you for coming along for the journey. x

39 Responses to “A New Home”

  1. Suzan July 11, 2012 at 6:27 am #

    So happy for you, Pia! You are truly blessed! ❀

  2. Palani Narayanan July 11, 2012 at 7:06 am #

    dear Pia,
    Thank you so much for this post. I have been wondering how you are and what your travels been like since Ballymaloe. So inspiring and so happy for you. Take good care and do send us more post. much love, palani

    • delectableblog July 11, 2012 at 10:11 am #

      Thank you Palani! Life just got so busy it was difficult to post. This one took me all night lol! πŸ™‚ And yes, youre more than welcome to come visit πŸ™‚ x

  3. Rafizah July 11, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    Pia… our lives have crossed at one point or other throughout these many, many years and I am truly happy for you upon reading this story and seeing the pictures. I followed your story when you were renovating your apartment in KL and it is a big and beautiful change to now be able to read about your new old cottage by the sea – you are living a watercolour dream that has become a reality. Ah, to live a blessed life…

    • delectableblog July 11, 2012 at 10:10 am #

      Rafizah … thank you! Such a change from KL – I never thought myself to be a country woman, but I think, at heart, I am πŸ™‚ And yes, a blessed life, every day. I wish that for you too πŸ™‚ x

      • Rafizah July 11, 2012 at 11:21 am #

        Thank you for the blessings in return Pia. I too am a country woman at heart and know the joy that can be found from the simple things in life, which always turn out to be the greatest ones…

  4. thegreatletgo July 11, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    So amazing. The light is just transformative and nice to see things we had shopped for finally finding a home. It is so you. Bellisimo. Hugs

    • delectableblog July 11, 2012 at 10:09 am #

      Thank you dear heart πŸ™‚ I hope you enjoy it when you come πŸ™‚

  5. reza July 11, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    Hi Pia, it is truly a beautiful home you have made for yourself. Congratulations on making this dream come true. It is an inspiration.

    • delectableblog July 11, 2012 at 10:08 am #

      Thank you Reza πŸ™‚ Thank you for sharing the joy πŸ™‚ x

  6. Angelica's Kitchen July 11, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    Pia, your cottage looks marvelous. A great, quiet place to call home. I wish you lots of happiness and joy for everyday you are there. I hope to drop in in the near future. Angelique

    • delectableblog July 11, 2012 at 10:07 am #

      Thank you Angelique! I Look forward to having you here so much πŸ™‚ Light and love x

  7. GoddesShireen July 11, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    Oh my darling Pia – soooo filled with love and happiness for you. I adore your home – how could I not – you fit it perfectly πŸ™‚ It’s funny how little things you mentioned, my eye was drawn to, before I read your text. The paintings of the milk cans, the Penan basket, the photograph of your ayah and you ~ *love* . And I just loooooove the last pic – everything about it πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Hark! Your cottage is calling my name!! I WILL visit πŸ™‚

    ps – we had an amazing stay with Juarez’s old boarding-school guardian in her country cottage in the Czech Rep. I have to say country gardening has really grown on me. I thought of YOU as we ate soups and salads everyday made from veg grown on the grounds. And guess what? It inspired me to cook my first ever batch of soup last night ~ Coconut Red Lentil Soup. Details when we Skype or whatsapp πŸ˜‰

    I love you stacks. Feeling your passion and the thrill of your adventure. Dunno why I teared up just a little πŸ™‚


    • delectableblog July 11, 2012 at 10:46 am #

      Ahhh Goddess Woman πŸ™‚ You were with me on the first tentative steps of this journey writing our blogs together!

      Thank you so so so much for celebrating my joy with me – we all deserve such a life of pure light and love.

      And I am totally unsurprised that those details caught your eye – I am sure you would have photographed them SO much better than I ever could have … And I cant wait for you to visit! Hooray πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      I saw your visit on FB – sounds fantastic! And yes, kitchen gardening is where its at (as I learned from Ana). Hopefully, I will setup my kitchen garden for next summer! So exciting that.

      And congratulations on the cooking! Such big steps πŸ˜‰

      I love you stacks backs xxx You teared up because you love me so joyously – as I love you x

  8. Jit Murad July 11, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    Randy & I are curled up on two different couches in two different countries, skyping – and truly enjoying these photos P
    We’re both vicariously delighted that your next chapter begins in a such a lovely, loving space XOXO
    ps. Nosey R keeps asking as I type: “does anybody what she’s DOING there? What IS she up to now? Does Na’s or Shah or ANYBODY know?”Jay-zuzz!

    • delectableblog July 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

      Love to you and R, Jit my brother. Im glad you enjoyed the photographs – tis a gorgeous and loving place. And yes, a number of people who what Im up to πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜› (Including Naa and Shahnaz :P) (I think) πŸ˜€ xxx

  9. Yasmin Yusuff July 11, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    W…O…W!! *speechless*. I am SO not worthy. My darling Pia, I just do not have the words to tell you how happy, how proud and how amazed you make me feel. Bless.

    • delectableblog July 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

      Thank you Yas my love πŸ™‚ Blessings abound and are shared. Love and love xxx

  10. ida July 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    Oh P! SOoo gorgeous! life is truly beautiful. my heart skipped a beat & i find as i write these lines beating a little faster. am so happy, excited for you and my heart is bursting-SO, SOO filled with love for you.
    love u millions & trillions & pots and pans & cookies & candy!
    i xoxo

    • delectableblog July 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

      I love you too, darling. More than I can tell you or find words for. I cant wait for you to come and see this place πŸ™‚ You will LOVE Ireland πŸ™‚ xxx

  11. Monique Labat July 11, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    Dear Pia the cottage is pure you, am so very happy for you. The touches – peaceful, calm, joyous and craft touches are glorious. Looks very homely and inviting well done on creating your magical space in this delightful cottage in Eire, wishing you happy times love your Mrs Walsh friend Moniquex

    • delectableblog July 11, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

      Thank you dearest Monique πŸ™‚ It is a blessing, this place. It feels … amazing! Miss you here in this gorgeous country though πŸ™‚ Come visit xxx P

  12. Sinead Hanley July 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    Pia, I’m gobsmacked at the transformation!! I am so looking forward to visiting you in that amazing space!! Lucky girl xxx See you soon love πŸ™‚

    • delectableblog July 11, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

      Yay Sinny! Come come come! πŸ™‚ Cant wait to see you darling friend x

  13. Christina July 11, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    Dear Pea, this loveliness is a blessing that you have invited into your life by being true to yourself. It feels like it was a step you took, that you had prepared all your life for. It’s wonderful and happiness-making, for me! I love that changing grey/blue/silver/green sea. The only other thing that inspires me the same way is the grey-green shift of the leaves of an olive grove in a soft breeze. Something so simple, clean, and natural can bring up such deep, resonating feelings, as if your history is right in there, humming on waves of light and sound. Amazing. So happy for you! Lovey, C

    • delectableblog July 11, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

      You are such a writer, my darling Chris. The clarity – how you describe the emotion – its perfect. And yes, it is. There are so many things in my life right now that feel like I have been (unconsciously) preparing for – great big whopping lumps of joy. Its so so good πŸ™‚ I hope you will come and visit me here one day πŸ™‚ Lovey lovey back honey xxx

  14. Rachael July 12, 2012 at 5:46 am #

    Oh what a beautiful place, it made me feel so happy looking at the photos and the sheer beautiful energy of the place . Wishing you lots of happy times, blessings and love and all the love in the world. Thank you for sharing darling Pia.

    • delectableblog July 12, 2012 at 9:35 am #

      Thank you dearest Rachael πŸ™‚ Come and visit the land of your ancestors πŸ™‚ There is something so healing and so right about this place πŸ™‚ Love you much xxx

  15. rosshadi July 12, 2012 at 6:49 am #

    Waduh. Best nya. Living the life. Yup. You are indeed blessed. You’re an angel. You deserve it.

    • delectableblog July 12, 2012 at 9:37 am #

      Ahhh Ross … sometimes I can be the devil too! πŸ˜‰ Living the blessed life πŸ™‚ Thank you darling x

  16. Ola July 12, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    Sweetest Pia, this is a home every bit as charming as its chatelaine. What’s not to love!! Like Shireen, I gloomed straight away onto the milk cans. And the sea, the sea…

    • delectableblog July 12, 2012 at 9:55 am #

      Ola πŸ™‚ Thank you πŸ™‚ And yes … the sea the sea the sea … and those milk cans! Hahaha … its a special magical place. Come and visit! Love love love xxx

  17. Muna July 12, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    Dear Pia,

    As always it was a pleasure reading your blog and I am very happy for you. It is a beautifull place were you are living πŸ™‚ and you sound sooo happy, peacefull and content.


    • delectableblog July 12, 2012 at 11:42 am #

      Thank you Muna πŸ™‚ It is and I am πŸ™‚ I so appreciate you coming along for the journey with me … Much love to you and yours x P

  18. laughter July 13, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

    i mean…. the house spirits are already mingling and hob-nobing… didn’t seem there was a necessity to even decide. there was a japanese robe of some sort… Cannot remember the details, but i remembered saying you weren’t ready. (‘ready as in in your own sweet time.) Guess what? I can feel it bursting outta the wherever you keep it now. yeeeeee-hah!

    • delectableblog July 13, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

      Yes πŸ™‚ My heart is bursting – and the light is so bright. It is all good and I am blessed and happy and living in sweetness and joy. x

  19. Troy July 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    Very nice, the view of the bay is perfect for consuming a cigar and a glass of single malt after a wonderful meal. The place shows the light of your spirit.

    • delectableblog July 19, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

      Thank you πŸ™‚ Its amazing what happens when you let the light in… and you are welcome any time – for a cigar and a single malt and a wonderful meal x

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