Mixing old and new

Donna Caira has created a dramatic backdrop for her Fife coastal home

Donna Caira runs a fine art print and interiors business called ‘We Are Amused’ with a friend, Susan, who lives nearby. She lives in Fife with her husband, Anthony and their two daughters, Julia now 20 and Olivia, 17.

Donna trained as a lawyer originally, but when she started her family she found she enjoyed staying at home and looked for a career with more flexibility. Interior design was an obvious

choice, Donna being both practical and creative in huge doses. She met Susan at a local interiors event and they clicked immediately and decided to do something together.

They design and create affordable, contemporary, Fine Art Prints, using typography and their own still life photography. Susan’s husband is a commercial printer, so they have his facilities at their fingertips and can control every detail of the production process at close hand. Their work, which is on display throughout Donna’s home, is fascinating with real atmosphere and is catching on fast.

In her home, Donna likes to mix things up. Her eclecticism has resulted in a bohemian vibe, not afraid to experiment, Donna has created unpredictable choices to every room, from the shocking pink panelled wall in the traditional Victorian kitchen to the faded floral sofa and raspberry toned armchairs in the more severely decorated drawing room. The occasional ‘pink moment’ comes as a refreshing surprise in this edgy home. ‘I think I have a bit of Rock Chic in me’ she admits.

They bought the house in 1999 and their daughters grew up here. The large Victorian house is located on a beautiful leafy street. The décor, when they bought the house was tasteful, but over coordinated and too chintzy for Donna’s taste. They undertook the transformation slowly, knowing that it takes time to get things right. ‘A house needs to evolve’ Donna believes, ‘especially if you want the resulting scheme to be really individual.’

The large kitchen is Donna’s favourite room, the wall dividing it from the dining room had been removed by the previous owners, but the results were uneven and needed resolving. ‘We got a quote from a plasterer to smooth the wall but we were shocked at the amount, so we came up with the idea of MDF paneling, surprised at how much cheaper this option was.’ Once complete, Donna knew that she wanted to paint it bright pink. ‘It was the perfect contrast to the black Ikea units and the traditional Aga. The fun, retro Smeg dishwasher was a much wanted replacement when the original, integrated model broke down, ‘unfortunately it did not fit under the worktop, but we were able to insert it into the original Victorian press, which we then paneled over, giving it a semi fitted home after all’ Donna recalls.

In the bedrooms, just like the public rooms, occasional luxury purchases are cleverly combined with funky, junk shop finds, bargain buys and home-made solutions. The whole house is bold, dramatic, moody and fun. Random salvaged pieces of furniture, vintage treasures and bargain buys have formed a happy collective in this characterful home. Not a fan of symmetry, Donna prefers unpredictability and always looks for solutions that are quirky rather than safe. Her natural wit and spontaneity ensure the results are always successful. There is an air of Alice In Wonderland in this dwelling – expect the unexpected when you enter!

Luckily her and Anthony have similar tastes, both have a penchant for retro deign and anything fun or different, ‘I do get my own way a lot’ Donna admits, ‘I think Anthony trusts me’ she laughs. Inspired to be creative by the process, ‘we both really enjoyed making the house our own’ Donna comments.

Their two daughters have inherited their parent’s talent and creativity, Julia is a talented photographer and Olivia a wonderful baker, hoping to maybe combine their talents, a café or a book could be on the way? Family history is evident throughout the house. Antony’s father was a champion weightlifter, as well as café owner and competed for Britain in his pare time, in both Commonwealth and Olympic games. It seems amazing now that more was not made of this, but his time preceded the age of celebrities and 24/7 social media, even footballers then were not highly paid!

Donna’s vision and style is available to anyone now through the stunning prints that she creates for We Are Amused. TC
Published: December 2017