A marvellously muted palette and subtle metallic accents add up to a luminous, luxurious backdrop for family life in this beautiful Dublin period property…
Designer Genevieve Hurley couldn’t believe her luck. Having previously designed the interior of a beautiful London home for discerning Irish clients, she discovered that the family were on the move again, and wanted to recruit her expertise to decorate their new home. “They owned a beautiful Victorian house, and were only in it for five years when I got the opportunity to work with them again,” she recalls.
Initially, the owners thought they might like the same style replicated in Ireland, but Genevieve, who is also from Dublin and has a successful interior design business in Putney, discouraged them. “Aside from the fact that there’s no challenge in that, I pointed out that it’s a different space – a different house with different proportions and features.” It’s rare for clients to be so decisive, but Genevieve describes the owners of this large home as “dream clients”. “I was delighted to work with them again, as they know what they like and are confident in their decisions.” The fact that she had completed a full refurbishment of their former home, she admits, really helped: knowing their taste was a distinct advantage.
The house had been in poor repair when the couple purchased it, with damp problems and a dark basement kitchen, among other issues, but they could see beyond the negatives, falling for the generously proportioned rooms, intact period features, feature windows and a lovely, leafy location.
Architects de Blacam and Meagher were signed up to realise the house’s potential, and came up with two innovative options. One comprised a glass-box extension out the back, the other a series of extra rooms that would bring the rear elevation of the house into perfect symmetry. The new owners settled for the latter, gaining a playroom, office and large ensuite bathroom from the plans.
Genevieve designed boards for each room in the house, from the smallest cloakroom to the biggest reception room, and they flew over to Dublin, where she presented her concept to them.
“The process was very collaborative,” she says. “I did three days of presentations in September 2014 and everything was signed off straight away. They didn’t move into the house until August 2015, so that will tell you how decisive they are.”
Storage was of huge importance for the owners, who have four children with busy lifestyles. Happily, Genevieve has quite the reputation as a storage expert and has received referrals based on her creative storage solutions in clients’ homes. “Everything here was measured for storage,” explains Genevieve, showing bespoke spaces for everything from wrapping paper to the vacuum cleaner, luggage to the lady of the house’s expansive shoe collection.
The house is impressively neat (with a well-thought-out utility room that is in constant use), even when the cupboards are opened. Genevieve, who is now good friends with the owners, assures me it always looks this neat, any day of the week, any time of day.
The smart wardrobes, slick office shelving and streamlined kitchen cabinetry were all designed and built for the house. Once housed in a dark space in the basement, this large room connects to an impressive dining room, with huge B&B Italia table. The newly created open-plan space features a state-of-the-art, streamlined pale grey oak kitchen with minimal clutter. Countertop appliances are housed behind folding doors, with an island sink and pair of gleaming Gaggenau ovens the only things to break up the clean-lined cabinetry and glossy white marble countertop.
Look carefully at the end of the island and you’ll spot a slimline drawer just above the kitchen stool. This hidden feature slides out so people can discreetly stash their keys and phones when they come home. This house simply doesn’t do clutter.
Pattern and wallpaper are key to the design scheme and it’s clear the owners love both. “Friends have visited here and loved the effect, surprising themselves by saying, ‘I thought I hated wallpaper, but now I want to
go home and put some up in my own house!’” laughs Genevieve. Most dramatic of all are the metallic Zoffany papers in the glamorous dining room. Evoking antique mirrors, they set the tone for a subtle metallic theme, with touches of polished chrome, stainless steel and brass used throughout the main living areas, which are flooded by light through large windows.
A chic courtyard out back leads to a full mews that has been turned into an enviable den, very much an extension of the family’s living space. Alongside an opulent guest bedroom, kitchenette, bathroom and small gym upstairs, it boasts a fabulous games room with bespoke pool table. Beloved by the teenagers, it’s also a favourite sleepover spot for birthday parties.
Wonderful co-ordination and attention to detail are evident in both structures, from the bespoke cushions for each bedroom to the lampshades lined in metallic hues, the fun trims on the blinds and the colourful ceramic doorknobs in the kids’ bedrooms. Of course, the house’s original 1830 features are still intact, and the ornate friezes, ceiling roses, original fireplaces and solid doors are the reason the new owners fell for its charms.
This modern space is fully in tune with its impressive heritage. “We deliberately avoided sanding down the doors to remove a hundred-plus years of paint,” says Genevieve. “They look much better with their imperfections and history.”