How art can make a space

For many people, in designing spaces, art can be something of an afterthought and yet it’s something we notice everywhere we go. In restaurants, in bars, in other peoples home and yet we are so much more likely to hang pictures of us on our J1 from 10 years ago than of art. Especially when it is art that can inspire us or add texture, depth and colour to our environment.

And now in a world where most of our photos and inspirational quotes and artwork mainly exist on our mobile devices we really need to look at our bare walls and rethink things.


One of the most important things for me in designing a space – be it personal or commercial – is what is the end goal? What opinion do we want customers or guests to reach when they enter the space? Fun, quirky, chic, elegant, minimalist, vibrant, reserved. Yes interior design can cover all these bases in our use of colour, tone and texture but artwork can enhance all of these things and really help to deliver your message.

Over the past number of years there has been a huge uplift in Ireland to promote the wealth of Irish artistry that is available at our fingertips. Historically art was only available via elite galleries and showcased on a rainy day on Stephens Green. Now however its everywhere you go you just need to know how to access it.

On one of Tall Boy’s most recent projects, Bar Rua on Clarendon Street, we tapped into the amazing plethora of talented Irish artists out there right now. Modern art adorns the walls of the interior with an emphasis on colour and quirkiness.

redheadArtists like Morgan, Gary Reddin, Steve Simpson, JillandGill, Pat Byrne, Rob Stears, and Claudine O’Sullivan add vibrancy to the space and catch the eye of punters drinking their pints. Many of them asking the bar staff “Where can I buy that print?”

The availability of reasonably priced print works is at an all time high – the likes of Jam Art Factory regularly have new artists in stock on their website and in their shop and the lads running it are sweethearts. Rubio in Hang Tough Framing also provides an online gallery and shop where they stock most of their artists they regular frame works for, check out Tough Love Gallery.


Damn Fine Print over the Northside of the Liffey provide screen printing courses but also sell artists work via their website too. One Strong Arm focus on typesetting pieces but still very impactful design. For a larger range of art you can check out The Copper House Gallery which hosts a selection of Irish artists – a portfolio of illustrators, photographers, painters and screen printers – so you’re sure to find something you love on their site. Prices can vary but it’s definitely a haven for any taste.

The positives to bespoke framing

captureSo now having chosen your work of art don’t forget the home in which it will live all its days and by that I mean the frame. Unfortunately so many people make the mistake when purchasing a print or artwork to house it in an ‘off the shelf’ basic frame when really your options for display can be endless and totally bespoke. Floating, non-reflecting glass, colour insets to highlight and accentuate the colours within your art piece; different mount widths and colours, a selection of frame widths, frame styles. The combinations are endless and beautiful.

Yes it can obviously be more expensive than a standard shop bought frame but the impact that it can have on a room or on you is incredible and not to be dismissed.

Two very skilled framing companies that I would recommend would be Hang Tough Framing in Portobello and Fox Framing in Foxrock. The quality, skill and inventiveness of bespoke framers is definite worth the money you pay and they tend to be very passionate and happy people.

Maybe dealing in creativity and viewing works of art every day makes their lives more fulfilling….which is definitely food for thought.

Is Ego necessary for a successful business?

As an entrepreneur and start up business owner I am constantly reading articles where successful entrepreneurs are interviewed about their start up stories. Tales of how they started from nothing but, somewhat miraculously, turned a small idea into a successful business model. All with such apparent ease it would seem. Some will concede the “it takes hard work and late nights but it all was worth it”.


Outwardly to the world they give the impression as if they have never experienced a moment of self-doubt, a second of negative thinking, self-flagellation or personal criticism along the way.

I, however, seem to be constantly wracked with negative thoughts – the “I’m not good enough” or “just pack it in and get a job” ones. Out of every 5 great, positive days I have 2 depressive “I’m a failure” days where I am looking at and asking myself “What are you doing??”

I do find we always read these glossy stories of hard graft, late nights and moxie AFTER they have become successful. We don’t see the blood, sweat and tears we only see the perfectly made up bio pic and the chirpy grin.

So where does this sense of self-belief come from? Is it born from ego; is just a necessity to present to the world? “Failure is not an option so never admit or concede defeat and you’ll always be a winner” or is it something else?


I think instead of ego it is a strong sense of self-belief and that is what it truly takes to be a success. Not everyone who starts a business is innately a supremely confident person, so thoroughly convinced of their own potential success that they never even contemplate failure. Most of us are weak, doubtful, stressed and negative. But the common value we hold true though is our belief in our idea. Belief can be a very strong tool as an entrepreneur. We know it can work, we know it’s good. Yes we as individuals might be weak and insecure but our idea is not. And yes when you really boil it down, the truth is that we really cannot imagine doing anything else with our lives.

So through every bad day and disappointment and knock back we keep going. With grit and determination and pure belief your business will succeed. And maybe someday it will be our opportunity to give the interview with the overly made up bio pic and chirpy grin and then, when it comes down to it, we will tell it how it really is.

Design Your Life With Sara Moore | Meet the GirlCrewer #86

Article taken from, first published 12th December 2016


“It’s incredibly fulfilling and rewarding to run your own business. Obviously it does have its stresses and drawbacks but to be able to do something I love every single day, I know I am a very lucky girl.” – Sara Moore, Owner/Designer at Tall Boy Design and Project Management. Get your free interior design consultation from Sara Moore here


Good design is something that we all love. We may all have different tastes, but we’ve all had that moment of seeing a beautifully designed space, and thinking “yes, I’ll live here, thank you very much!” One woman who is changing the landscape of design and project management, is GirlCrew Dublin member, Sara Moore. Sara is the brains behind Tall Boy, a company which specialises in lifestyle interior design for residential and commercial properties.

“Before I set up my own business I actually worked in facilities management and project management for a private healthcare firm. I was responsible for fitting out new residential units for individuals with autism and challenging behaviour which meant everything from the colour paint on the walls to the cutlery in the drawers. Because it covered so many aspects I kind of fell into the interior design end of things and soon realised I had a talent for it.”

georgian home 18Tall_Boy_Logogeorgian home 8

“By being so hands on I realised I had a knack for both the design and project management. Which is probably quite unusual as one is deemed a very creative skill, and the other very organisational and process driven.”

Combining these skills has allowed Sara to create a company that puts the needs of the client first. “When setting up Tall Boy I knew both of these skills could work well in tandem with each other so that’s the very basis of my business. I design but I’m also there onsite everyday making sure the project runs smoothly and my clients are happy.” If you’re based in Dublin, you might be familiar with Sara’s work and not even know it! One of her recent projects includes the gorgeous Bar Rua on Clarendon Street.

Bar-Dublin-2  bar-rua-clarendon-street

This bar has the GirlCrew seal of approval, as we’ve hosted many events there including our Thirsty Thursday gang who are imbibing their way around the city. We can attest that this place is absolutely beautiful, so make sure you pop by. If you fancy giving your own home or business a bit of revamp, Sara Moore is offering a free design consultation for all GirlCrewers.

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Quickfire Questions with Sara Moore of Tall Boy

1) What is the best thing about your role?

 I love that’s its so varied, I can be working in the office on the project design and moodboards one day but then be on a building site the next day. I also love seeing a design come to life, the whole process always amazes and impresses me.

2) What did you find most challenging about it?

Every project can have its own problems and sometimes those things are just beyond my control as a designer and project manager. The most challenging thing is being able to just accept each issue and find the solution quickly and cost effectively. As a Project Manager when something goes wrong it can be difficult to be the decisive one – you make a decision hoping it’s the right one and usually it is!

3) What is your proudest work related achievement to date?

Bar Rua on Clarendon Street was a huge project for me. It wasn’t just the building design I created, but also the brand and logo so it was a real labour of love. I’m very proud of the fact that it turned out exactly as I envisioned. That doesn’t always happen on a project as the client brief can change quite a bit sometimes. With Bar Rua its exactly how I imagined it would be. Also there’s a lot of myself and my personality in the design. I think that comes through and I love that.

4) What would be your one tip to others who want to get involved in this industry?

Construction and design are very male dominated environments, and that is something you have to just accept. Don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard. People will respect you if you stand up for yourself and make your opinions known. It took time for me to see that people were actually really interested in what I had to say. That gave me more confidence as a designer and as a business owner.

5) What would be your motto in life, and in work?

I’m a big believer that “Everything happens for reason” and also “Whats for you wont pass you by”. It makes me very accepting when things don’t always go the way I’d like them to. You have to believe that there’s a bigger plan and that it will all work out the way its supposed to – although it might not seem that way at the time!

 6) What’s your favourite thing about being in GirlCrew?

I love the female support and positive energy in GirlCrew. I’m a member of the GirlCrew Entrepreneurs and GirlCrew Bloggers; I find them to be massively helpful in terms of information and advice. As a small business owner its very easy to feel isolated and alone. Knowing that the support network of GirlCrew is there makes it so much easier.

Claim your free consultation with Sara Moore of Tall Boy Design and Project Management, here.

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How to tap into positive networking

As a female entrepreneur I am constantly told the key to growing your business is Networking. It’s who you know not necessarily what you know. Networking to me was an incredibly daunting prospect – facing a room full of people and doing what I felt was the “hard sell”. I am NOT a sales person. I am an interior designer and business owner so to me the thought of essentially selling myself to strangers was terrifying. However networking was a subject that was constantly within my radar and I knew I would have to just commit already and do something about it.

Scary Networking

So finding the right networking event is key. For those of you starting your own business or maybe thinking of starting your own business I would recommend Eventbrite to tap into resources that in most cases are free and very readily available. Many of the banks – Bank of Ireland and AIB especially, run business start-up events around the country which also pose as networking opportunities.

They advertise these on Eventbrite and on their own websites under events. I felt these were an excellent introduction to networking. It’s a positive environment with people from all areas of industry and everyone is fairly relaxed so no pressure to perform per se.

Other events that are available are specifically networking, round table or discussion events. I am still quite scared of these as I feel they are little bit beyond where I am currently at. I do hope to be a premium networker before too long – I just need more practice.


Some other great options are attending Chamber of Commerce weekly networking events. These are usually held early morning mid-week and are run all over the country. These are a brilliant source of contacts. You don’t have to be a paid member to attend. You can contact the specific meeting and ask to attend as a guest and then make up your mind on whether the subscription will be beneficial or not for you. I personally paid my membership for the Women’s Network of Ireland and I have found it to be very fulfilling and beneficial as a female entrepreneur. The events are full of women who are all at different stages in their businesses – some are start-ups, some well-established but the wealth of knowledge and support is wonderful. The positive energy in the room is a thing of beauty.

So if you decide to bite the bullet here are some top tips for novice networking:

  1. Don’t be afraid to approach someone. Everyone is there for the same reason, they are all looking to make contact and connect. If you’re looking for an in, a little compliment helps ease the way “oh I love your bag!” is always nice.
  2. Smile and have an open manner. It won’t help if you have your eyes glued to your mobile phone. Try to look approachable in your body language so no crossed arms or lack of eye contact. It can be hard and you might not be in the humour but I always say to myself it’s only an hour or 2 hours of your life and who knows what could happen.
  3. Have a question prepared. Nearly everyone in the world enjoys talking about themselves and entrepreneurs love to talk about their businesses if you only give them an opportunity. A good way to spark conversation is to ask “What do you hope to gain from attending the event?” Or “Why are you here this evening?”. It’s a little more open than asking a closed question of “What do you do?”
  4. Don’t expect miracles from each event. I have attended a good few networking events and they don’t always result in solid business leads. However what I have made are some friends who are also entrepreneurs which is hugely beneficial. These are people you can talk honestly to about your struggles and successes. Its also a great way to make solid contacts with contractors that you could use or someone you know could use down the line.bestyoucanbe

Networking is mainly about making a good impression. Its great to be memorable and have a positive impact on who you meet. If you are open, friendly, honest and unassuming people will remember you and WHO KNOWS what could come from that.


Planning Your Refurbishment – Defining a brief, budget & timescale

If you have a home requiring a little love and attention or are maybe thinking of buying a home or premises in need of renovation here are some tips that will help you on your way.


The most important thing before you start your project is to define what it is you wish to achieve and try your best to stick to it. Many people make the mistake of not defining what they truly want from their refurbishment and end up changing their goals as the project progresses. This in turn increases the budget. The more definitive you are with your brief the more exacting you can be with your budget and cashflow. The more exacting you are the more controlled you are of the overall project.

Questions to ask when creating your brief are:

a. What is my end goal? A larger kitchen, a second bathroom, to let more light into the property, more space etc. Whatever the ultimate goal is, define it and put it on the list.

b.  What are my Must Haves? Is there a specific thing you just have to have and won’t negotiate on? When renovating my own home I specifically wanted a retro fridge, a new bespoke handmade kitchen and wooden shutters on my windows. I would not budge on these items and made sure I factored them into my brief and then in turn my budget.

c. Where is their room for movement? Laminate instead of semi-solid or hardwood? Do you really need new tiles in the bathroom? Can the walls be papered instead of replastered? These are all viable questions that will have a knock on effect on your budget. If you can identify your Must Haves you can also identify the things that you can be flexible with.


Unfortunately if clients don’t do their research when it comes to cost and renovating it is very easy to see things escalate out of control.  Most people just don’t have realistic knowledge of how much things actually cost. It is only when you start itemising the requirements of the job and start ringing would be contractors that’s when you can really get a handle on estimating your outgoing spend.

Again it goes back to the brief and your must haves. What can you skimp on and what is essential. Make sure to get 2-3 quotes from different tradesmen and suppliers you will be surprised the difference in price from company to company. Use websites like, word of mouth is great and LinkedIn is actually a great one too which people wouldn’t think of.

Once you start building your budget and collating your contractor list you can start getting an idea of when your project is likely to start and more importantly, finish.


Setting a realistic timeframe is of the utmost importance. Also what a client might think is realistic might not be realistic to a contractor so bear that in mind. Try and use a main building contractor who will sub-contract out the electrics, plumbing etc so that they have full management and responsibility for the tradesmen onsite every day. If you decide to have your own electrician or carpenter on site then you are responsible for making sure he or she is onsite every day when they are supposed to. If you use a main contractor looking after everyone it does help to keep everything running reasonably smooth.

Make sure you agree specific stage payments throughout the project. This is so the project isn’t delayed in any way. I once had a project where my contractor didn’t ask for any money and when I queried why there was no one on site one day he said he hadn’t been able to pay them! After that I made sure staged payments were made regularly to him so as not to delay the project in any way.

If you have a specific timescale in your head – 1st July, Christmas week – it could be anything, always factor in 1-2 weeks of delay sometimes longer depending on the scale of the project.  Anything can happen and if it can happen, it will!

So there you have it – Brief, Budget and Timescale. The basis of your successful renovation project.

To get some inspiration for your prospective project check out Tall Boy designs Instagram page!

The Need to be Unique

It’s a common crux for a designer – you want to set yourself apart from your contemporaries  but not too far apart so that you’re no longer on trend. You strive to be seen as individual, new and unique.

In the age we live in it’s become so much more accessible to tap into social and cultural trends in other cities and bring an element of that design back home to Ireland. At what point though do our designs, that we’ve systematically created and laboured over, just start to look like everything else? We are all researching in the same pools – Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook etc.  We find something – a theme or design that sparks our creativity – tweak it, develop it, put our own stamp on it and call it our own but at what point does design inspiration equal just plain plagiarism?


It is the way of the world to take inspiration from different avenues. We see a common theme occurring particularly in music recently with the plagiarism case of Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars and 70’s funk pop group The Sequence for their copyright infringement of Uptown Funk. Also to note the successful plagiarism case brought against “Blurred Lines” singer Robin Thicke for his direct sampling of “Got to give it up” by Marvin Gaye.

In this day and age, with a world of art, design and music that’s gone before us, it is nigh on impossible to be truly original – elements are taken from all avenues and facets and of course the old adage is true “Imitation is the best form of flattery”

So how can we still be seen as unique if a common trending theme runs through all our designs?

  • Through Clarity. How we present our ideas to the world and most importantly to our clients. Know what you message is, define your brief clearly and concisely and commit to it.


  • How you Deliver your design.  Do you do it with a smile? Well if not, you should. The easier you make life for your client the happier they will be and in turn, happy client equals happy designer.


  • Be Honest. This seems to be a common thread amongst my peers. The more honest and upfront you can be with your clients, your contractors or suppliers you will help to create a more positive and fulfilling working environment for everyone.


So being unique in today’s market doesn’t always boil down to your design and what you’re putting on a page but more about how you present that design and yourself to the world.