Catherine Heraghty – the Stables
With over 10 years’ experience in property styling and interior styling, Catherine Heraghty is the owner and Creative Director of The Stables. She creates spaces that have a sense of light and warmth, and places importance on lasting interiors that will become part of her client's story at home.
Recently she completed a project where she completely built 2 semi detatched houses to form a duplex in 12 weeks, so she certainly loves a challenge.... We thought we'd pick her brain about that and what else she's been up to.
TBG: I’ve heard you classify yourself as an interior stylist. For those that don’t know, how does that compare with an interior designer?
CH: Yes I tend to place myself in the Interior Stylist category even though I am technically a qualified Interior Designer. I prefer the styling aspect rather than the design side of things and hope that clients come to me for this kind of work rather than design work! Ha ha…it’s a subtle hint to clients but to be honest I end up doing equal amounts of both types of work – one often leads to the other and the lines often become blurred!
I tend to think of Interior Design as the more serious side to Interiors, it covers the finish selection, joinery design, it can include bathroom and kitchen design, lighting design – its all of those big costly decisions that need to be made that form the basis of an interior. The decisions you make are permanent and define how an interior will appear for years to come!
Interior Styling can be thought of as all the things you do to a space once the Interior Design work is completed – it’s the furniture planning and selection, artwork, accessories and soft furnishings. It’s a lot light-hearted in nature and while both require loads of experience and skills to get it right – I would say that Interior Styling covers the less permanent areas so can be taken a little more lightly!
TBG: Your style is beautifully simple. Why do you think that can be so hard to achieve for most people?
CH: I naturally approach interiors with a less is more thought process, I tend to choose pieces that are beautiful in their own right so they can stand alone. I believe if you choose individual pieces that are so beautiful in their design, you don’t need a lot of them! I find that clients tend to struggle with this concept and keep adding to an interior to see whether the next piece will solve their problems! I always tell my clients that they are better off slowing down and doing the process with care and consideration, give each piece thought and think about how it will feel in a space before committing to it. Don’t add for the sake of adding, only purchase an item if you truly think it is going to enhance how the space feels. This is probably a tricky thing for many people as they find it difficult to visualise how something can look in a space, not everyone can visualise so that is why they come to someone like me to do the visualising for them!
TBG: At TBG we have been following the 2 in 12 project with great interest. The finished photos look amazing – how was the process?
CH: To be honest – the process was incredibly stressful. The results were beyond anything we had ever anticipated and I am so grateful for the opportunity to do what we did but the actual concept was crazy! We had to build two completely different homes in twelve weeks. Building one home in twelve weeks is normally unheard of, but two homes with two completely different sets of finishes that are furnished completely differently by the end of that process was a huge feat that I am so proud of. I ran my business the entire way through, I was onsite filming each week and I was onsite answering questions and making sure things were installed the way I wanted. To top it off we lived with my in-laws and I had a busy three year old! It was CRAZY! There were countless late nights where my husband and I dragged ourselves to bed well after midnight, I don’t think anyone understands the amount of decisions that need to be made during a build until you are doing it for yourself. It felt endless. But there was a light at the tunnel and we are thoroughly enjoying our home now and so is our new neighbour, it was so worth every second of stress and I would do it again in a heartbeat as I now know what to expect!
TBG: You are an Instagram phenomenon. Why do you think you have been so successful?
CH: Gosh there are so many people out there doing amazing things and they have a huge following too so thank you for your kind words! I have always felt that I started at the right time, Instagram is a hard game to get into these days due to the introduction of the algorithm. Its difficult to grow a large base of followers! I started at a time when there was no algorithm and organic growth was a lot easier. Having said that I also attribute my success on Instagram to a few key points. Firstly, having my own unique style that I consistently showcase on my page. People who follow me like my style and come to me for that, they know what they are going to get when they follow me so I give them more of it.
I also think I come across as a genuine person who is real and someone that my followers can engage with, engagement is massive with Instagram so I always try and answer my DM’s and reply to comments on my posts. People are taking the time to comment on my photos so I think it’s the least I can do to reply to them.
The last thing I try and do is just put my head down and do my own thing, I never copy other pages or designers – I am certainly inspired by them but I never copy. Followers are smart and they can pick up on that kind of thing quickly, so I just put my head down and concentrate on what I love to do with my interiors and if people want to follow me for the ride then great and if they don’t I don’t let myself worry about it!
TBG: The Stables is based in the southern part of Sydney. What’s your favourite part of the area?
CH: Without a doubt the beaches. I grew up on the South Coast of NSW and during summer it was not uncommon for us to head down to the beach two or three times a day for a swim. Being close to the beach feels so natural to me and I honestly could not imagine living far from it. It's definitely a lot harder these days to get there with a busy family life but we try and just knowing it's there is comforting.
TBG: What pots in the TBG range are the ones you find suit your style?
CH: This is an easy one, it is definitely the Willow Range. I love the clean lines and the monochromatic colours of the Willow range. I have been mixing and matching this range for years now for all my outdoor areas, only last week we used them in a project in Bondi indoors and they look fantastic! I love the versatility and timelessness of this range, it suits my style perfectly!
TBG: In our experience, budgets seemed to get tight at the end of a construction project. What percentage of a budget/time do you feel should be allocated to finishing/styling on a project?
CH: Yes that can certainly be true for some clients. I tend to work on the styling side of things before the build has even started as I think it is essential to plan for this stage. It can be costly to style and furnish a home and it should never be an afterthought. Many people underestimate how much it costs to furnish and style a home and they can be disappointed that have put all this time and money into a build and then end up with an empty home. Not everyone can afford it and that is perfectly fine – everyone has budgets. So if the budget is there, I say try and allow and plan for it before the build begins as it is sometimes possible to build the cost into the finance at the beginning. For others if budget does not allow, I suggest to clients to get a good understanding of what they want and plan for it in the months and years following the build completion. A great way to do it is to finish one room off at a time, this gives people a great sense of satisfaction and motivation to keep on going!
TBG: What’s the best thing about your job?
CH: It sounds cheesy but there are a lot! I love the variation I have from day to day, I would be hard pressed to repeat the same thing twice so if you are not keen on routine – this job it for you! I also love my clients, I have so many beautiful clients that have become my friends over the years. I feel very lucky to create beautiful interiors for beautiful people. Being an interiors lover, naturally I love being immersed in the latest furniture, finishes and interiors that come to the market. I love that I made this my job, I set out to do it about twelve years ago and I have never looked back. I now run a successful business which I am immensely proud of but its important to know, it was not an overnight success. It was years and years in the making so to all of those who are looking to make the leap, I say go for it and never look back. Put in the hard yards, follow your dreams and stay true to your style and you can’t go wrong!
TBG: What do you think is the next trend in interiors?
CH: This is such a tricky question! I think the interest in unique joinery design will become more of a focus in peoples homes – there are designers out there making absolutely stunning things and I think this will water down and enter peoples homes. Gone are the days of the plain white kitchen, I think people in general are becoming more adventurous in their homes with the advent of social media. People can see an example of what they want and they want it in their own home. No longer is exciting joinery design for the high-end builds, or commercial work but I think it is definitely going to become a much bigger thing in the every day home.
TBG: And finally, what’s next for The Stables?
CH: Our next big project is Baby No. 2! Due in April of next year that is consuming so much energy! Other than that, business will be as usual, we will be expanding our team early next year to help me with the extra load of a new baby. My husband and I are anticipating another build project in the year or so after we have this next baby – we are the kind of people who cant sit still for long so I would say once I have recovered from the sleepless nights we will be looking for something else to sink our teeth into!