Emily Connell wasn’t aware that her shop was embracing the Danish art of ‘Hygge’ until a customer complemented her on it. While there’s no one English word to describe this concept, ‘Hygge’ has been referred to as the art of creating intimacy. Cosiness, comfort, simpleness are all words that come under its umbrella. Just opened in October, Chalk & Easel in Ballinspittle is a shop that would indeed inspire you to make ordinary, everyday things more meaningful, beautiful or special. Interior Designer and owner Emily Connell has an eye for lovely things that are also functional. You won’t find plastic or unnecessary frills in this shop. Soft lighting, the warmth of a crackling stove and the scent of freshly chopped wood transforms shopping into a ‘joie de vivre’ experience.
Although there is a Scandinavian influence, most of the items in the shop are made by Irish designers or local artists and craftspeople. “I’m interested in products that are well made and cleverly designed,” says Emily, “and I wanted to create a space where people can come to be inspired and feel creative, not just to buy, although that would be a bonus,” she says smiling.
A professional artist holding a degree in Interior Design, Emily’s murals are a familiar sight in many commercial premises in Kinsale. She also refurbishes old furniture using Annie Sloan decorative chalk paint. One of her most popular designs is a gold leaf map of Kinsale painted on to a coffee table. “I source furniture for customers and refurbish it to their specifications,” she explains.
“The trend is for unique artisanal items in the home. Customers want well-crafted beautiful pieces that will stand the test of time,” says Emily.
“Last year was all about copper, and while still popular in West Cork, the trend is now more towards gold and brass. I’d suggest that people go with what they like. If an item is wellmade with good materials, it will be timeless, whatever the trend.”
“I’m selling a huge amount of dog prints by a local artist Kathryn Kneefel.
Other popular items in Chalk & Easel are handless ceramic mugs and tube vases from Denmark and La Bougie candles, which are made just over the road, two miles outside Ballinspittle. While the La Bougie ‘Mission Fig’ scent in candles, diffusers and linen spray is available in all shops, the ‘Mission Fig’ perfume will be exclusive to Chalk & Easel and available in time for Christmas.
Chalk and Easel stocks a selection of beautiful cushions in linen and cotton materials. There are also lampshades and cushions handpainted by Cork artist Olive Murphy. Rugs in a cotton and leather mix come from Denmark.
The lighting by Coppergreen Design in Wicklow, handmade using natural raw materials, is quite simply, stunning.
If you’re out to impress your dinner guests, then check out the stainless steel titanium gold plated cutlery. “It’s very trendy if a tad pricey,” says Emily.
Wall art includes Julian Smith ceramics, paintings by Emily’s dad, Karl Cullen, dog prints by Kathryn Kneefel, graphic art from Denmark and much more.
Emily’s husband, Matthew Connell, is a graphic designer and will be screenprinting fabrics and cushions for sale in the shop.
The Atlantic Equipment Project in Sligo makes the stylish but hardwearing range of bags.
Lambswool blankets, pashminas and scarves, all very reasonably priced, are also flying out the door.
“I tried to keep everything as affordable as possible,” says Emily.
Handmade soap, Fair Isle socks and handmade leather bound notebooks and diaries all make tasteful Christmas presents and the wooden, ceramic, glass and paper decorations (no nasty plastic in sight) from Denmark should be on every West Cork Christmas tree.
Chalk and Easel is a gorgeous shop, filled with thoughtfully selected items that will make your day better and your home more beautiful. A trip to Ballinspittle is a must before Christmas.
Chalk and Easel, Main Street, Ballinspittle, 021 4708663. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-5pm.