Challenging traditional notions of what a family space should be, Pearl Collins’ West Cork build couldn’t be more homely…
It might seem like Pearl Collins’ work and home life exist in paradox. On the one
hand, she’s the founder and co-director of internationally acclaimed event design outfit Pearl & Godiva, jetting all over, up to all sorts of glamorous-sounding deeds – and on the other she’s a wife and mother of four kids, who keeps pigs and chickens, in West Cork. But after a good nosey around her house, it becomes clear that Pearl’s aesthetic philosophy carries through both.
The vibe here is carefully curated, but for the purpose of allowing the freedom to live. “When we planned the house, we wanted the palette to be neutral and the feel to be calm, so that our life could be the colour, unobstructed by background noise.” The buzzwords were humble, organic and homely, with the aim to create a space where Pearl and her farmer husband, Michael, could live with their four children, Tallulah (nine), Oliyan (eight), Micah (four) and Olive (two) – plus two live-in helpers and their little dog, Eddie, exactly as they wanted to live (largely, around a massive kitchen table, where the kids do homework at one end and the places are laid for a big family dinner at the other).
This house has been three and a half years in the building. The garden has just been laid and so is only coming to life; the kitchen is, as yet, a stopgap, while their custom concrete cuisine takes shape, but there’s nothing incomplete about the feel of this place. “When we first moved in, the kids were like wind-up toys, running around, playing hide-and-seek in each of the four bedrooms. We waited so long for the house to be finished, which was hard at times, but it’s actually been really good for the kids,” says Pearl. “They’re so appreciative of how lucky they are to live here.”
An architect designed the shell “but we were on our own after that”, she explains. Working with Michael’s cousin James Hurley (“a fantastic builder who really got what we wanted to do”) they challenged what their budget should have allowed. For one thing, the polished concrete floors would have been entirely out of reach had they gone with a specialist contractor. Instead, they made beautiful what was necessary and ditched anything that wasn’t, allowing the nuts and bolts of the building to be its adornments. Exit skirting boards, architraves and carpets; enter awe-inspiring seven-metre windows, a sea of shining concrete and sandy-textured walls.
The space feels like the perfect embodiment of how you imagine Pearl’s mind would look, but was it an organic process? “I think that’s where my obsessive personality kicks in,”
she jokes. “If you consider the two years of planning before our three-year build, I’ve had a long time to think about the interior, which means I rushed nothing and regret very little.” Buying almost every stick of furniture online – Danish brand Tine K Home is a favourite for accessories, while the larger pieces have come via a plethora of antiques houses from across Europe – she saw nothing before she bought it. “I was like a kid in a sweetshop the day they were delivered. Everything I had bought from the Continent was stored with an antiques company in England, some for more than two years.” The very idea of spending so much on something you will not see for so long would terrify some, but not Pearl. Her considered research and confidence in the steadfastness of her own taste made these purchases logical and the items treasures.
“I know that many people could come here and think it’s grey or cold, but to us it feels very warm. Every inch of the space works to make our life better and every single thing in it is something we have chosen because we love it.”