When Dubliner Peter Shaffrey and hubby Kevin Warwick spotted a canalside apartment with high ceilings in a gorgeous gabled building right in the centre of Amsterdam, they couldn't believe their luck. It had been empty for months and was exactly what they were looking for.
?The apartment sits on the fringes of the city's hectic red-light district - not everyone's idea of a dream home - but the couple loves the vibrancy of the infamous quarter. ?I think this area is really up and coming,? Peter says. ?They are trying to clean up the neighbourhood and it's gentrifying quickly.?
It has been a fascinating road to Amsterdam for these two designers. Peter, who trained in fashion, now works as an interiors stylist. He met Kevin, who was working for John Rocha, at a friend's party in Dublin in 1998. For the next few years they travelled across Europe, dividing their time between London, Paris and Amsterdam following Kevin's work as he pursued his lifetime dream to work in menswear fashion. ?We loved our time in London and Paris,? recalls Peter with a smile. ?But Amsterdam really feels like home.?
It took them six short months to renovate the apartment, which involved knocking down walls, rewiring, re-plumbing and plastering every wall. Today their home combines simple design with strong colour, plenty of natural light and a spacious open-plan layout.
However, it is Peter's eye for detail that adds brio and style to their charming home. ?I just love to go wombling,? he says with a hoot of laughter. ?I'm always looking for things. I often buy something and have no idea where I'm going to put it, but I know that it'll eventually look good somewhere.?
Photography by Mark Scott