Relocating from Ireland to Scotland has given Claire Johnston the perfect opportunity to create a new home and business venture in one.
House-hunting while living in another country can be challenging, as Claire Johnston discovered when she moved from Ireland to Scotland in 2017. Her husband, Alistair, had already returned to his home city of Glasgow for work, while Claire stayed in Dublin. However, unsurprisingly, the couple wanted to be together full time. ‘We’d just finished renovating our beautiful Dublin house, so I was quite sad to leave,’ says Belfast-born Claire, who was able to continue her old job remotely. ‘Alistair and his brother viewed a few properties, then I flew over to see two of them myself.’ One property in particular got Claire excited about moving. ‘It was a three-bedroom ground-floor apartment within a converted period property,’ she says. ‘The lovely big driveway made a good first impression and the porch, too, but it was the period panelling and living room ceiling that really clinched it.’ The building had been split into two flats by a developer and it was a blank canvas with original floors, white walls and fireplaces. This suited Claire, who was planning to launch her business I Am Nomad – a ‘shop-curated home’, where all furniture, accessories and art would be for sale online and at open-house events. ‘I had the idea after visiting an apartment in New York where they did a similar thing,’ she says. Claire and Alistair have since furnished their home with a mixture of mid-century pieces and modern designs from Denmark and Amsterdam, alongside artwork and Turkish rugs. ‘Mid-century furniture lends itself to so many different styles,’ says Claire. ‘You can mix it with modern, traditional or retro pieces – anything goes.’ In the master bedroom, Claire has created a cocoon-like feel. ‘I’d always wanted to make one room really dark, including all the skirting boards and doors,’ she says. ‘I must have tried six or seven tester pots before getting the right shade. As there’s a large bay window and high ceilings, the room can take it.’ While Claire would love to have had a pantry by the back door, she couldn’t justify changing the developer’s units. Instead she decided a dramatic hand-painted wallpaper would add a touch of individuality. ‘I was worried I might get bored with it, as it’s such a statement,’ she says. ‘But I love it as much today as when it went up.’ Although it has taken her some time to feel settled, Claire has gradually fallen for the charms of Glasgow. ‘In some ways it reminds me of Belfast and I’ve found a talented community of creative people here,’ she says. With two of her open-house events already under her belt, Claire is planning another for August. ‘The only thing that isn’t for sale in my house is a writing bureau in the guest bedroom that belonged to my great grandfather,’ she says. ‘Living in a home where everything is for sale wouldn’t be for everyone, but when I can see that somebody loves something as much as I do, I don’t mind seeing it go to a good home.
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