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TikTok star Maryrose Simpson defends her house overhaul after trolls take aim

"At the end of the day it’s going to be my home and I want it to reflect me as a person as well"

TikTok star Maryrose Simpson insists she won’t let bregudgers get her down

Eugene Masterson

TikTok star Maryrose Simpson insists she won’t let bregudgers get her down after a dramatic overhaul of a 200-year-old house she inherited led to online trolls accusing her of causing something akin to its "murder".

But Maryrose’s renovation of the house she was left in a will by her grandmother won the approval of architect Hugh Wallace on RTÉ ‘s Great House Revival.

The three-bedroom house in Stradbally, Co Laois, was in the family’s possession for over five generations.

Maryrose's father died when she was 12 and she treasured every detail of his family home. But lockdown delays and spiralling prices pushed her to make hard choices and radical changes to the building.

The end result is a thoroughly modern home and office base for her online career, and all within a lovingly restored exterior which reinvigorates the historic streetscape

“I think you will always have people – if I didn’t do it or if I did do it – who had views.

“I kind of appreciated there are people out there who would have done it differently but at the end of the day it’s going to be my home and I want it to reflect me as a person as well,” reflects Maryrose (33).

“So I watched some of the comments but I have great deliberations even with my family and my friends about like what this person said and it is really nice to take all of that into account, but I did take it all into account nearly before I ever did anything.

“It’s quite prominent in the town, it’s a bookend. I was coming out the front door one day and there was a supplier coming out of the shop and he started applauding me. I said ‘are you applauding me?’

“He said ‘you did a great job, it's lovely to meet you’. The outpour of love I’ve had is lovely.”

Her initial budget was originally €200,000 to €250,000, but it went to over €320,000.

“It was a huge undertaking. What you don’t see on the show was there was a whole year before I undertook the whole planning process and getting permission and stuff like that,” she points out.

Maryrose Simpson with Hugh Wallace

“It started up very much three years ago and I decided to draft up some plans. At that stage the house wasn’t even in my name, I was still in the process of capital acquisition tax and getting everything like that sorted, with my grandmother’s will and how she wished to split up everything.”

Maryrose stresses there is a lot more that went into the house renovation than was shown on the programme.

“You see 50 minutes in the show, but this was the last three years of my life,” she notes.

“There were three months of lockdown, where deliberation and talks happened and I got the right people in to advise me on what to do.

"When you start taking away the fabric of a building you start to realise ‘this wall isn’t stable’, ‘that wall is connected to this other wall, so that means if you take this wall this wall has to go.

"So it starts to escalate very quickly and with an old building you are kind of signing up for that journey as well. And when you are doing a renovation, you are like ‘what does my journey hold’.

"Because you are going into a building and, yes, you have lovely wallpaper in front of you, but (you wonder) what's under the walls and how are those walls still supported etc. You don’t know until you start to take layer by layer off and fortunately it ended up well.

“Where I am now, I’m sitting in the house, and I’m warm and comfortable. I love the home. I feel every essence that I felt when I first walked in here, it will still be my grandmother’s house and I still feel very connected to it.”

She reveals that she basically had to gut the house.

“When I took all of the furniture out and all of the memorabilia and everything like that, I was left just looking at orange carpet and pink wallpaper, and you start to realise ‘there’s very little that I can give back to the original time of 200 years ago’.

"Because people had very little back then and these houses were meant for labourers, they were very simple houses,” she adds.

Maryrose is the middle of three children and her boyfriend has now moved into the house with her.

“My grandmother and grandfather were business people in the town,” she explains.

“People have questions about what happened to all the other furniture. It’s basically looked after, but that’s a whole other project in itself. You spend thousands like repairing something, to give it the life it deserves and the story that it deserves.”

Maryrose runs her own unusual company, Ladybug, which provides presents for women during their ‘time of the month’, with a subscription of €9.99 including postage.

“I started the business about seven years ago and at that time I suppose periods were not really widely talked about.

"But the world has come on greatly and I was delighted to be part of a first conversation. As in order to push it into the media, to, I suppose, change that tide a little bit and acknowledge that periods are not taboo, we should speak more often about what’s happening to half the population of the world, and it’s something that should be celebrated.

“In the last couple of years I think there are two companies in Ireland which have set up something similar, which is great to see, as again it was a place that had very little innovation or spotlight on it. And I’m delighted to see that, and maybe I even encouraged other people to start that business or other businesses.

“A month before I launched my business a company in the US started, but I think they are gone now. They were called We Flow. Then a French company started about a month later. I thought wasn’t it great that three entrepreneurs in a global kind of eyeline all had the same idea.”

She now delivers to over 23 countries worldwide.

“In your subscription you get the products you choose from the website, so you can pick between tampons and pads, then you have a selection of bamboo, cotton, or Always tampax brand. As an added extra I add chocolates and herbal tea just to have a bit of niceness for something isn’t always 100% welcome,” she smiles.

As well as working for Shopify, Maryrose has built up over 270,000 followers on TikTok.

“In the past couple of years I documented my house renovations, so that’s done well. Before that I started documenting my life, or showing the work from the home environment I do and just doing videos or daily blogs. I wouldn’t say I have a particular niche, it’s just the Maryrose channel, I have a lot of interests,” she maintains.

As a resident of Stradbally she is also excited about Electric Picnic returning to the town.

I was very young when it came to Stradbally, it's there 15 or 16 years,” she recalls. “It’s great for the town and I would be in support of it. We did have concerns about it last year. My mam owns the local newsagent's and she had concerns. This year it seems like the right year to bring it back and everyone is in a better place. We are delighted to see it come back.”

*The Great House Revival is available on the RTÉ Player, and is on Sunday evenings on RTÉ 1 at 9.30pm.

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