When you pull up to Fusion Interiors on the N71, just east of Skibbereen, you might think small shop. It is only when you go in and go down the stairs, that you find a large retail store. West Cork People meet with the partners behind Fusion Home Interiors, Elaine Doolan, from Drinagh, and Ciarán Crowley, from Castletownshend.
With over 6,000 square feet, parking out the front and at the rear, Fusion carries just about anything you need to add style, character and quality to your home. On a busy morning, Elaine is arranging fitter Mike to call out to a house to measure up for bespoke curtains and Roman blinds. Ciarán is talking a customer through the process of painting over pine wood – from suitable primer, to undercoat, to the type of topcoat required that might work best with young children. Trish whizzes past, on her day off, to make sure an order is ready for a client to collect. It’s a busy shop and with Christmas coming, there are many people looking to lift their homes with a touch of quality.
“We have a great range of products. Whether you are painting your interiors, changing upholstery or adding shutters to your window, we have it all.” Elaine explains. “We have seven full time staff and for customers who want extra help, Lauraine Farley, an exceptional interior designer, is here every Friday for personal appointments by appointment.”
The shop is alive with colours and patterns – there are selections of paints from earthy tones to deep bold colours, exquisitely designed fabrics for curtains and upholstery, and rolls of modern and traditional wallpapers.
“We have customers who are doing all types and sizes of jobs – from fabrics to curtains to paints – and it’s great for us to be able to bring them through all the design choices from conception to completion,” Elaine says. “We can either recommend tradespeople in their areas or we can supply the necessary tools you need to do the job yourself.”
“Our main skills?” Elaine says in reply. “Problem solving. We’ve been in this business since 2006 and we have solved almost every kind of problem when it comes to window treatments, decorating or design. We also have exceptionally good staff!”
Mike, their fitter, is an expert at measuring and fitting and he loves a challenge. He says, “Some of our jobs, especially with blinds, curtains, or shutters – they can be tricky. Not all windows are regular shapes. As a good carpenter says, measure twice, cut once!”
Ciarán, fresh from dispensing advice, talks as he and Jack mixes up a batch of paint for collection later in the day. “We are independent, which allows us to put our personalities into the shop. But we are also part of the Albany Group, which is a chain of independently owned retail shops across Ireland. We can deliver good value by being part of the bigger group. That keeps us competitive and allows us to tap into the experiences of many shops, not just ours.”
“We travel to trade shows across Europe with others in the group, so that helps when you are sourcing new lines. Myself and my colleague Jack are just back from a recent UK Trade Show having sourced a new range of environmentally friendly paints and lacquers, which are in high demand”
Back on the shop floor, two customers are chatting by the coffee machine. The topic is bathroom colours and what is coming back into fashion and what is not. Fusion has that local feel. A place to take your time. For communities, the benefits of such shops are enormous. From keeping the local economy circular to community sponsorships to employment, shops like Fusion are vital in West Cork.
Elaine shares the questions they hear most?
“Without a doubt, the main question we hear is – where do I start? If you are moving into a new home or redecorating – that’s where people get stuck. The answer? Just ask. We’ve guided so many people through this process and it’s not about us telling you what to do, it is about us finding out what our customers like, what colours they want to see daily – once they get started, their own vision for their home emerges.”
It really is a whole lot of shop with a whole lot of personality. A great place to browse and come up with ideas. A place to meet with an interior designer. A place to have a coffee and look through colours or fabrics. They are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 5.30pm, Saturdays from 8am to 5pm, and every Sunday up until Christmas from 12 noon to 5pm. And their vouchers would make an excellent Christmas present! The coffee is a nice touch too!
Christmas Vouchers are now available at Fusion. Check out their website at www.fusionhome.ie.