May 3, 2024 by Rikki Thompson
A Day In The Life
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Step into the heart of Armagh, and you’ll find a beloved family-run business that has been an institution in the city for over 50 years. Clarke Decorate, located on Scotch Street, has, over the years weathered numerous challenges. Since first opening it’s doors on  21st February 1970, the store has witnessed it all. From a bomb blast in 1979 which reduced the store to rubble to a freak accident in 2019 when a car crashed through the front window, it’s fair to say The Clarke family have remained resilient.

What started as a successful painting contracting business in February 1950 employing a team of skilled individuals who worked on various projects, such as chapels, churches, and schools has now evolved into a modern interiors studio, catering to the needs of the ever-changing customer base.

With each passing generation, the Clarke family has embraced new technologies and trends to stay ahead of the game. Now, the store on Scotch Street is ran by a third generation Clarke. Grandson of founder George, Richard Clarke, is a well known face in the Armagh Area. When not in the boxing ring or supporting his local community, Richard can be found behind the desk of the design studio preparing the perfect look for clients.

Born and raised in Armagh, Richard’s journey from selling wallpaper and paint in the family business to launching his own online ventures has been nothing short of inspiring.

Early Years and Education:

Richard attended Lisnadill Primary School, where his love for both mathematics and art began to flourish. Richard found himself completely immersed in the process 0f creating vibrant and imaginative art pieces. From a young age it was clear that art was more than just a hobby for the teenager.

This passion continued throughout his secondary education at The Royal School Armagh. With a family business centered around selling wallpaper and paint, Richard saw an opportunity to combine his interests and pursue a career in interior design. With a solid foundation in art and design. Pursuing higher education in the field studying at Teesside University in Middlesbrough from 2006, Richard studied interior design and honed his skills. Not long after what started and a passion would seamlessly transitioned into a career – but not without a few surprises along the way.

Richard’s passion for vibrant experiences and his love for all things quirky led him to meet the love of his life while studying at university. Chloe, a truly unique character who was studying Sport Therapy, crossed paths with Richard and it was a classic case of “the girl next door” scenario, and their connection blossomed as they spent quality time together, enjoying each others company.

Richard Clarke from Clarke Decorate in Armagh

New additions

As Richard entered his final year of studies, the couple received exciting news – they were expecting a new addition to their family shortly after Richard’s final exams. This put immense pressure on the new father-to-be to excel in his coursework, as he wanted to provide for their upcoming arrival. Balancing the desire to embrace student life and the responsibility of impending parenthood was challenging, but Richard’s determination to succeed propelled him forward, and he proudly graduated with a 2:1 honors degree.

Their journey then brought Richard, Chloe, and their newborn daughter, Lilli, to Coventry. Richard initially worked at a local bar before transitioning to a company specialising in roof truss design. Despite their efforts to make the most of their time in Coventry, Richard’s desire to utilise the skills he acquired at university, combined with his prior experience in the family business, led him and Chloe to make a significant decision – they decided to relocate to Armagh.

By embracing this new chapter in their lives, Richard and Chloe sought to leverage Richard’s acquired knowledge and years of experience to create a fulfilling future. They were excited to explore the opportunities that Armagh had to offer and to build a life centered around their shared aspirations.

Building an Online Presence:

After returning to Armagh in 2010, Richard identified a gap in the market for selling paint online. Recognising the potential of e-commerce, he embarked on a journey to establish an online presence for his family’s retail business. It took time and effort to navigate different platforms and find the best approach, but Richard’s persistence paid off. The online market became a valuable complement to their physical store. So began the businesses diversification. The online offering,, steadily grew and became an essential part of their operations.

Expanding into Interior Design

Amidst the demands of running a retail business and managing online operations, Richard had temporarily put his interior design degree on hold. However, this year, he decided to reignite his passion. With the rebranding of their upstairs studio on Scotch Street to RC Interiors, Richard aimed to market his interior design services to the Armagh area and beyond. He now offers a range of services, including color consultancy, interior design packages, digital graphics, curtains, and upholstery.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Richard set his sights on further expansion. In the past two years, he collaborated with web developers to launch a secondary website, This platform specialises in a wider range of products, including wallpaper, paint, bedding, and curtains. With new stock and designs constantly being added, Richard’s venture is gaining momentum and attracting customers from near and far.

Speaking to UrbanABC about the business blend of bricks and mortar high street presence and their online offerings Richard said; “The retail landscape is ever-evolving, it’s evident that the way people shop has undergone significant changes. Environmental factors such as increased congestion, the rise of online accessibility and more people working from home, have transformed the buying patterns of customers. While we as a business value or presence in the city centre, we simply adapted our strategies to meet the evolving needs of their customers”.

“By engaging with customers in their own spaces, I get the opportunity to gain valuable insights into clients specific projects and needs and get a better feel for their overall project. It allows for a deeper understanding of individual preferences, resulting in tailored recommendations and a more satisfying experience”

Beyond Richard’s dedication to providing exceptional interior design services, RC Interiors’ founder is an active member of Armagh Round Table, a social group for men aged 18-45. This group serves as a platform for socialising, networking, and giving back to the community.

Additionally, Richard is a part-time coach with Armagh Ammeter Boxing Club, and it’s also a true family affair. Richard wife, Chloe and daughter are also part of the boxing club. The club, established in 2015, has seen a surge in membership and a string of victories, showcasing the talent and skill of boxers from the Armagh area. Boxers of all ages and abilities train hard, leading to impressive achievements.

Daughter Phoebe took up the sport at the age of 7. After winning the Monkstown Cup, she went on to conquer the Barum Box Cup in England, the Belfast Hallowe’en Box Cup, the Nine-Counties, the Mid-Ulster, the Ulster, and finally the All-Ireland cup this year.

So what’s next for the Armagh businessman? Richard a third-generation Clarke, continues to carry the family legacy forward, combining his passion for art and design with his dedication to the local community. “I’m an Armagh man and I love the city and want to see it thrive. Armagh has undergone a massive amount of regeneration in recent years. Ok, we don’t have a railway link but Armagh City is still worth a visit. We are so lucky to be part of one of the oldest cities in Northern Ireland and I hope that Clarke Decorate will be around for many more generations”.

Appointments can be made through contacting the store or visiting


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