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Love Vintage? Meet Dun Laoghaire’s Upcycling and Vintage Experts

20. 10. 2020

Do you own a piece of furniture that was passed on in your family through the generations? Or a favorite jumper or dress that you got from your granny? There’s something so exciting, almost magical about those precious belongings. Imagine standing in front of an old mirror and thinking that maybe your great grandparents were doing the very same thing. Or maybe you just like to revive how it was “back then” and bring a little piece of Charles Dickens and Bronte Sisters’ novels to the present.

Whatever is your reason for loving and owning vintage things, rest assured that Dun Laoghaire is a perfect town for you to upcycle or find the perfect piece of history.

In this exciting new chapter of promoting Dun Laoghaire businesses, we spoke to the owners of our favorite upcycling and vintage shops. We are inviting you to join the adventure and learn more about them.

Heirlooms Antiques

A fantastic lady we’ve been delighted to talk to was Camilla an owner of the Heirlooms Antiques. Camilla is in the antiques business for 23 years. She sells furniture that was cared for through the generations. She has lovely pieces of furniture made from woods like mahogany, walnut, rosewood. She also sells some reproduction pieces that have the same traditional style.

What makes Heirloom Antiques unique is a personalised approach to customers. Camilla loves working with people. She gets to know them well when doing business with them and as a result they are coming back. She is clearly very passionate and enjoys her work.

Camilla Heirloom Antiques

Camilla’s Thoughts on Upcycling

Camilla doesn’t advise painting loved items of furniture, it is best to just upholster them where necessary.

If you have a very nice, quality piece of furniture, please don’t just paint it, restore it instead!

For some pieces more recent pieces painting might be appropriate, particularly if it is pine or plywood furniture. But never paint Victorian or older furniture is Camilla’s advice. 

Is Upcycling Just a Trend or Is There More to it

Camilla thinks it’s good that people are upcycling and believes it will stay. Preserving a piece of furniture that people love is a journey of discovering. Camilla sells furniture that has history but is still functional. She believes that’s not upcycling per se, her goal is to keep the furniture in a good condition so that it can last another 100-200 years.

More From Camilla

Great minds think alike, so just like Emer at BANK (see profile below), Camilla recommended mixing antique pieces with the new furniture. For example, a lovely old table with modern abstract design looks amazing. 

Get over the January blues and drop in and see all our beautiful stock in Dun Laoghaire. #Interiordesign #antiquefurniture #shoplocal #furnitureforlife

Geplaatst door Heirlooms Antiques op Woensdag 15 januari 2020

Here’s where you can find Heirloom Antiques shop:

75 Upper George’s Street, Dún Laoghaire

(01) 280 1263


Google Reviews for Heirloom Antiques

Google Reviews Dun Laoghaire Town

Google Reviews Heirloom Antiques

Bank – Dun Laoghaire

Meet a lovely soul, the owner of Bank Dun Laoghaire, Emer Osborne. This lady is a former cellist and a true artist. She has always been interested in interior design and objects for interiors. Throughout her life Emer was always collecting things. She set up the business last autumn. And this is where the story gets interesting.

Together with her husband she renovated a building in the heart of Dún Laoghaire Town, an old bank, in order to make two apartments. They were looking for a commercial tenant but the tenant pulled out. Emer decided to take a leap and run an antique shop instead. She thought it would be a nice addition to the town. We are glad she did! Pre-COVID the business was going very well, last Christmas was busy. In recent months, Instagram and online sales have helped to keep the business going.  

Emer is lucky with the historic building her business occupies. There is a nice period entrance to the shop, it’s an old salvaged entrance which creates a nice impression. They put down wooden floor boards throughout which Emer had bought from architectural salvage. As a true upcycling story the floor boards were removed from the building that Google has bought – the Old Boland’s mills in Dublin city centre.

emer osborne bank

Emer’s Thoughts on Upcycling

The essence of upcycling is finding special things that people want to use. Shape is very important with items from the mid 20th century being on trend now. Emer doesn’t paint the items she prepares for her shop. This was fashionable a few years ago but not anymore.

When approaching a piece of furniture Emer feels that a lot of times it’s not necessary to change things completely, sometimes it’s just an upholstery job that is needed to bring the piece back to its former glory.

Emer said that she met so many people through her work that have a good understanding of what they like. When working with Emer clients prefer to choose their own fabrics and getting the right fabric is an important element of upcycling. She has a lot of old but unused fabrics that she collected over years that are now available to clients in the shop.

She personally prefers if the furniture is eclectic, from many different sources. She likes using oriental rugs, adding plants and then modern design. She feels that a mixture works well.

A good mixture is quite a nice thing. Because there can be a blandness about modern – hotel look – designs. It’s quite nice to give our homes individuality. 

Is Upcycling Just a Trend or Is There More to it

Emer thinks it’s quite encouraging to see the new trend of a lot of young people coming and buying vintage stuff. She feels that it is hopeful that many people realise that we have a duty to conserve resources and that we should focus on how we can reuse things. Emer feels that there’re a plenty of wonderful things to reuse.

And to prove this point Emer shared an interesting story with us. Once a young woman came to Emer’s shop, it turned out that she was a cellist, just like Emer. Emer had found that period costumes such as big white skirts were ideal for playing the cello.  On her recommendation the young woman bought one from Emer and came back to say she doesn’t want to buy anything new ever again!

More From Emer Osborne

Emer thinks of herself as someone who hates to see things that still have a value to someone thrown out. She doesn’t like wasting things, especially if they are interesting. The Bank shop has a large display in a very nice building which enables customers to see the beautiful offerings in an ideal setting. 

She loves giving ideas on how her customers can use old things, Emer feels that it is good to have good modern design with a few old things added to the mix.

Here’s where you can find Bank Dun Laoghaire shop:

Anglesea Buildings 1/2, George’s Upper Street, Dún Laoghaire

083 071 2677


Google Reviews for Bank Dun Laoghaire

Google Reviews Dun Laoghaire Town

Google Reviews Bank Dun Laoghaire

Patrick’s Curiosity Shop

Someone once said that our greatness is not in what we have but in what we give. Patrick Mangan is an amazing human being and owner of the Patrick’s Curiosity Shop. Patrick fell into the business quite accidentally. After years in Clerys where he worked as a buyer, he went to work for a charity as a manager. He found that he loved the work and he saw an opportunity to open his own shop. It has gone on to be a success for over four years now. 

His shop is not for profit. Everything that is in the Patrick’s shop has been donated and then the money raised is given back to the local charities.❤️

Patrick and his team are very careful about what they select for the shop. They want to keep it as interesting, laid out nicely and as clean as possible.

Patrick's curiosity shop

Patrick’s Thoughts on Upcycling

If you visit Patrick’s shop the team are always on hand to help explain how to care for something precious to you. If for example it is a piece of furniture and the piece has to be painted, the staff will explain how it needs to be treated first. If it is a piece of clothing the customer will be advised depending on who they are getting the piece for. Anyone who comes into the shop gets advice if they ask for it. 

Is Upcycling Just a Trend or Is There More to it

Patrick certainly thinks that people are far more conscious about the environment we are living in and that this is a permanent change in behaviour.

People are now spending money on quality items that will last.

Patrick says that people buy things for different reasons but up-styling is an important trend. People are not throwing away items that have alternative uses anymore. They see the value in the many different things that Patrick sells in the shop.

More From Patrick

Patrick told us that they have a very strong following of people both in the shop and online. Some are interested just in clothing, some in furniture. Also, they have a wide variety of people who are regular customers, from teens to older people. They make time to chat to them, especially to older people as they might sometimes be the only ones they are speaking to during the day. So Patrick makes sure they are listened to!

They always have a great supply and donor base and donors appreciate what Patrick does with the items given to the shop.

Geplaatst door Patrick's Curiosity Shop op Zaterdag 8 augustus 2020

Here’s where you can find Patrick’s Curiosity shop:

3 St. Helen’s Court George’s Street Lower, Dún Laoghaire

(01) 538 9920


Google Reviews for Patrick’s Curiosity shop

Google Reviews Dun Laoghaire Town

Google Reviews Patrick’s Curiosity shop

Slaughterhouse Vintage

We had a great pleasure to meet and talk to Francis, owner of Dún Laoghaire’s unique Slaughterhouse Vintage. Francis got into the business with his father. His father has a vintage store in the Temple bar area, so he was kind of born into the business. He opened the shop in Dún Laoghaire three years ago. 

What makes Slaughterhouse Vintage interesting is that they do collaborations with different designers and young people making specialist clothes. 

Francis Slaughterhouse Vintage

Francis’ Thoughts on Upcycling

Francis encourages people to shop around, starting with Slaughterhouse naturally, the area to get the exact style of clothes they want. He noticed that if people have to travel long distances looking for special styles of clothes that can discourage them.  

Is Upcycling Just a Trend or Is There More to it

 Francis told us he feels it is a bit of a trend but he also strongly feels it is a pillar by which fashion should be going. He is concerned that fashion is one of the world’s most polluting industry.

If we can change how we approach upcycling clothes and fashion, we have a good chance to save the planet. 

So upcycling is the trend now but he thinks it’s here to stay. In the past some felt that second hand clothes were taboo in some way, that only new clothes fitted the social aspirations of people.

If you ask us, Francis has definitely made us rethink our buying habits.

The beautiful @sophdevlin wearing one of our new vintage dresses. I think this looks mad world war 2 during the blitz. #oldschool #ladyinthereddress #gold #bombshell

Geplaatst door Slaughterhouse Vintage op Donderdag 13 augustus 2020

Here’s where you can find Slaughterhouse Vintage shop:

Lee’s Lane, Mulgrave St., Dún Laoghaire

086 162 6195


Google Reviews for Slaughterhouse Vintage shop

Google Reviews Dun Laoghaire Town

Google Reviews Slaughterhouse Vintage

J Smyth Studios Cabinet Makers and Designers Ltd.

With great pleasure we spoke with John Smyth, not only Dun Laoghaire’s, but one of Ireland’s leading experts in restoring antique furniture.

The company has a 40-years long tradition, John Smyth and his father went into business together in 1980’s. They started in small garage but today John owns a workshop where together with his team he makes wooden furniture and restores antiques. John uses all types of wood in his work and people travel from all over Ireland to see his work and ask for his professional services.

Smyth Studios specialise in French polishing, carving, gilding, leatherwork, brass work. Smyth’s customers are multigenerational, many of their customers return year after year through generations, the whole family as a family as a tradition.

J smyth studios

John’s Thoughts on Upcycling

John finds that often people start their repair projects on their prized piece of furniture only to find the project turns out to be far more difficult than they had expected. This is most often the case where people want a particular style for their furniture, this specialised repair work is difficult for an amateur. John and his team are on hand in these situations to help. People are definitely clear in their own minds about the materials they want to use. For example oak, maple, timber, and walnut woods are very popular at the moment.

Is Upcycling Just a Trend or Is There More to it

When we asked John if upcycling is just a trend or have people became more conscious about the environment, he told us that there are several factors to it.

At the end of the day the reality is that upcycling can work out cheaper. If a family spends a small fortune to buy an apartment then making their budget go further by furnishing it with pieces from 1950’s or 60’s is not only cheaper but also cool and people are proud of their furniture. Furthermore, furniture that could be found in the shops might not be suitable for small spaces while the vintage furniture is which is one of its important advantages.

John also believes that crafting is coming back. In 1980’s and 90’s people were crafting then to some extend they switched to the automation that computers offered, but now crafts are back in strength. People want to make things with their hands these days.

More From John Smyth

John told us that his team does a lot of family pieces. Furniture that people want to pass down to generations and they want it in the best condition possible, and sometimes is just a broken leg in your dining chair that needs to be fixed.. 

Everyone wants to know that they own at least one valuable piece of furniture, sometimes that value lies in a precious memory that an heirloom piece represents to them.

J Smyth Studios

Here’s where you can find John Smyth’s shop:

1A Stoneview PI, Glasthule, Dún Laoghaire

(01) 280 7282


Google Reviews for J Smyth Studios

Google Reviews Dun Laoghaire Town

Google Reviews J Smyth Studios

Kevin Gildea’s Brilliant Bookshop

Many of you certainly know Kevin as a stand up comedian, but Kevin is more than that. He is also a writer and a second hand book reseller. He has been reselling secondhand books at car boot sales for many years. He also sold books at the Christmas market and the Dun Laoghaire pop-up shop in the shopping centre. All of this led to his decision to open a secondhand book shop in Dun Laoghaire. The town doesn’t have one and Kevin loves second hand books and selling them, so it’s a win-win.

Growing up Kevin always loved books and loved shopping in charity shops. Kevin loved the buzz of people rummaging around his pop up shop and just finding what they like. This inspired him to open his new shop in the town.

Kevin Gildea

Kevin’s Thoughts on Secondhand Books

When you are buying in a secondhand bookshop you don’t have a particular book in mind. So it’s quite an adventure, that’s what is different.

Randomness makes the secondhand bookshops exciting. You actually find the book that you didn’t even know you wanted!

Is Upcycling Just a Trend or Is There More to it

Kevin thinks upcycling is something that has always existed in one form or other. There’s a growing appreciation for upcycling for different reasons, people were always attracted by antiques for their special appeal. 

Kevin sometimes go to recycling and saves books. For him throwing books is a blasphemy. We can just can say amen to that.

Here’s where you will be able to find Kevin Gildea’s Brilliant Bookshop:

94 George’s Street Lower, Dun Laoghaire

087 9898 958


And that’s all for this month – Remember to shop local!

We loved talking to Dun Laoghaire’s upcycling and vintage businesses. If everyone thought like them this world could be a better place. They reminded us how important it is not to throw away perfectly good things. They are not only a piece of furniture or clothes, they are also reminders of what really matters – our families and the bond that lasts through generations.

Thank you for supporting our Dun Laoghaire business community!

Please note that all participants in the above photos kindly temporarily removed their face masks to pose for the photos.