TO many, the well-known personal image consultant Ruth Murphy has a dream job – shopping for a living. The personal image consultant who has run Postive Image+ for more than 20 years, serves a devoted base of clients who are time poor or lack the confidence to determine the very best look for them, be it clothes, make up, hair or shoes.
This week she had a high-powered business executive doing the shops in Dublin choosing the right business wear for her frame and colouring.
“We spent three hours going around and now she doesn’t need to go near a shop for 18 months. What I like on the business wear front is that power dressing is gone and things are so much more free and casual. And trouser suits, which really do suit an awful lot of people, are coming back. Across the board there is no one “look” right now, it’s anything and everything whereas years back it was always one style and a couple of colours.
“There are pretty much four attributes to being well dressed and these are based on your colouring, your body shape, your lifestyle and your personality.” And image consultancy is not just for women. Around 15pc to 20pc of Ruth’s clients at any given time are men, including a few estate agents.
Much as we hate to think it, she emphasises that first impressions generally last. Ruth has researched the psychology in depth.
“You have approximately 90 seconds to impress someone when you first meet them. And 93pc of how someone forms their opinion of you is initially based on non verbal communication and of that 93pc, 55pc is based on your visual image and/or how you are dressed.” A vital component in Ruth’s business has been the home base she shares with husband Angus at Elsinore, their very distinctive 1920s bungalow at 154 Howth Road in Clontarf, Dublin 3 which also gave a vital first impression when they first viewed it as a house for sale 15 years ago. This also serves as her studio for taking clients through looks and trying on different styles of clothes and accessories.
“We thought, ‘this is just so different’. It was designed by William Dunne of Farmer Brothers, a well-known firm known for constructing churches and schools in Ireland, and so it’s got lots of lovely wood panelling and wainscoting upstairs.
“Since we bought it we have restored it by emphasising that country churchy look as much as possible. When we extended it, we even went for a church style roof to continue that look.”
Now the couple are downsizing and the property has been brought to market again, this time for €1.25m through Gallagher Quigley.
The detached pink home is set back from the Howth Road in Clontarf, on a south west facing site. The house measures 2,662 sq ft, or more than twice the size of the average family semi.
A reception hall leads to an open plan kitchen/dining/living space, one of the home’s main selling points. This features a double height A-shaped ceiling and large skylights on both sides which bring in plenty of natural light. Expansive sliding doors lead from here to the west-facing rear garden.
The kitchen has bespoke curved hand-painted cabinets and a circular island designed by Hannaways of Co Down. There are integrated appliances and corian worktops with integrated sinks. There’s limestone tiled floor underfoot with underfloor heating. The kitchen appliances are all Neff except the blue Smeg fridge and the dishwasher from Bosch. The kitchen has two sinks and a hymax worktop.
A decent-sized utility room has a cottage style stable door and is plumbed and fitted appropriately. Off the kitchen is a large multi-purpose room, currently used as a home office and client studio, also with high ceilings and multiple skylights. Originally perceived as a granny flat, it has its own shower room, wc and handbasin.
Also off the reception hall are two large reception rooms, a shower room and a bedroom. The receptions both have bay windows, hardwood floors, ornate plasterwork and original period fireplaces. The foor panels feature stained glass in an Art Deco Style.
The house has four bedrooms, the master bedroom with a corner bath ensuite and there is also a family bathroom. Upstairs the dormer ceilings are tapered and panelled, creating a French styled ambience.
A west-facing private back garden is 100 feet long and comes with floral borders, raised planters, trees and shrubs. An original greenhouse adds some additional period rustic charm while a gazebo, a sunken barbecue and a sandstone patio provide for socialising on summer evenings.
Elsinore is within reach of the shops at Clontarf, a Dart station and multiple bus routes. St Anne’s Park is nearby as is the seafront promenade with its extended cycle path. The city centre is three kilometres away. Meanwhile Ruth and Angus are off in search of another home and another look.