Bright, contemporary and “a little bit raw” – tour the home of Siobhan Lam, owner of online interiors store April and the Bear…
It’s hard to believe when you walk into Siobhan Lam’s beautiful light-filled Portobello home that the property was in three “terrifying” bedsits when she and her partner, Jamie Hughes, found it in late 2011. “There was pine everywhere – on the ceiling, on the floors, on the walls,” begins Siobhan, not missing a beat as her energetic little Jack Russell, Gizmo, leaps up and down on her lap. “We never had any intention of buying a fixer-upper but then we came to see this house and completely fell in love with the location.” The Grand Canal literally flows past their front door. “And because it was in such a state of disrepair, we were able to afford it,” she grins.
“It was scary, buying a house that needed to be completely gutted,” admits Siobhan, but they had a secret weapon: Jamie’s father, Paul, an experienced carpenter with great contacts in the business. With Paul’s help, the couple greeted the New Year in January 2012 with sleeves rolled up and steel-capped boots on and got stuck into the demolition work. They also enrolled the help of Jamie’s good friend and fellow musician Ger Owens, a trained architect, who worked with them to draw up plans and design the new layout for the house. “We hired a surveyor and team of builders for the initial stage of the build but after that we did everything ourselves – painting, plastering, joinery, decorating, you name it.”
For a year the couple lived in the upstairs bedsit while the two bedsits downstairs were transformed into a light-drenched, open-plan living and dining space with kitchen to the rear. Walls were stripped back, wide-plank floorboards were painted gun-metal grey, French doors were put in to open out onto the (long) back garden and two beautiful original fireplaces were discovered – one of them is now used as a working fireplace in the living space while the second is used as a display space for Siobhan’s eye-catching interior finds, many of which you’ll find for sale on aprilandthebear.com, the online interiors store that the former fashion buyer for Arnotts launched in February of this year.
“I would describe our style as ‘eclectic industrial’,” Siobhan reflects. “We wanted to create a space with a New York loft feel to it, a space that would be bright, contemporary and a little bit raw, but with plenty of humour and character.”
For more restoration drama, check out this chic seaside revamp.