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How to Downsize in Style

You’d never guess that the owners of this knock-out contemporary home in Blackrock, Co Dublin, have spent most of their lives living with beautiful antiques. With their children moved out and their Georgian terrace feeling unnecessarily large, the design-loving couple decided to decamp to the mews at the end of their beloved garden and start over.

Image: Aisling McCoy

Image: Aisling McCoy

Originally completed in 2013 for their daughter – she is married in Australia and returns home for prolonged visits with her young children – the couple decided that the beautifully designed space would make a perfect smaller home for their changing lifestyle. Neil Crimmins from Cathal Crimmins Architect designed the light-filled space.

Image: Aisling McCoy

“Neil actually grew up a few doors down on the same terrace and I’ve known him since he was a little boy,” the owner explains, delightedly. “He knew the area well, and the firm had already designed the neighbouring mews where his parents now live.”

Image: Aisling McCoy

Image: Aisling McCoy

The house was almost finished when Emily Maher, of Lost Weekend in Dún Laoghaire, was called in to help with the interiors. “Everything was done, from the kitchen to the bathroom, so my help was needed sourcing furniture and decoration – things like window dressings and rugs.”

Married 43 years, the couple had amassed a collection of beautiful period furniture, but agreed it was wholly unsuitable for the new mews. Besides two Oriental pieces and their collection of Irish art, they decided to shed all other household items and start again from scratch.

Image: Aisling McCoy

Image: Aisling McCoy

“It started with the dining table,” Emily says. “The owner really wanted a big table. As the living/dining space is open-plan, they didn’t want an island. The result is very much her aesthetic. She has a really nice sense of style and is not too fixed on her own ideas. She was very open to how to use the space.”

The finished home, which the couple are just moving into as we go to press, is a magnificent tribute to the classics – a “who’s who” of Denmark’s finest designers. Arne Jacobsen, Carl Hansen, Børge Mogensen and Hans J Wegner are all represented, with iconic pieces like the Wishbone and Swan chairs, all sourced by Lost Weekend.

Image: Aisling McCoy

Image: Aisling McCoy

Built in the sunniest and brightest part of their garden, a granite wall separates the original plot, with the mews retaining more than half of their beautiful old garden. “The aesthetic is  very different to our old house,” the owner explains cheerily. “Here, there’s lots of gorgeous light, and we’ve kept it very plain. It’s a very liveable, relaxing and comfortable space.”

Image: Aisling McCoy

Image: Aisling McCoy

With everything from the tableware to the table lamps bought new, I ask how difficult it was to simply leave it all behind. “I just had to declutter!” she declares jubilantly. “I’ve a plan for the rest of my life – whether that’s a day or 15 years. I’m going to live here with no baggage and no mess.”

WORDS Jillian Bolger  PHOTOGRAPHY Aisling McCoy

Extracted from Jillian Bolger’s interview with Emily Maher as featured in the March – April issue of IMAGE Interiors & Living

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