A once dated terraced Ranelagh house, found largely unchanged since the 1930s, has been transformed into a vibrant, colour-drenched family home, full of playful touches.
There is a palpable fizz to Terri Cooper that is infectious. The minute you walk through her canary-yellow front door, you know your afternoon’s about to perk up. She has the best laugh, which bubbles up in little helium bursts through her fast-paced chat.
“I don’t go for the safe option,” she enthuses, which makes sense with her career as a stylist. “I like clashing colours and bold, bright patterns, in what I wear and what I surround myself with at home. I like to put pieces together that others might shy away from.”
You’ll see this in spades when you scroll her Instagram, where you’ll see Terri off to collect the kids from school in leopard-print silk trousers, a pink “Music makes everything better” tee, Golden Goose runners and a leather studded cuff.
“I prefer things with a bit of edge,” she continues. “So I’ll sharpen a pretty summer dress with a pair of vintage 1990s metallic ankle boots – and at home, I’ll put dinosaurs in the hallway and skulls in the bedroom.”
Terri and her husband Tristan lived in London for thirteen years before returning home to Dublin in 2010 with their young son, Finn and were soon joined by a daughter, Holly. They both enjoyed living and working in London but knew they ultimately wanted to raise their family back at home in Dublin. When they began house hunting, they were drawn to Dublin 6, with its mix of residential peace and proximity to town.
“We spotted this house for sale, took a cheeky look over the back wall, and were pretty sold on it before we’d even stepped inside,” Terri remembers. “It had an unusually generous garden for this part of town and I always knew I wanted a light, bright, colourful home with a strong connection to the garden.” And this is precisely what you get when you walk in.
On opening the hall door you see straight down through the kitchen to the garden beyond. The front living room, into the left, interconnects with the playroom and then the kitchen, keeping the whole floor open and sociable, and each space is lifted with bold, bright pops of primary colour – from the M&M green Asian sideboard in the hall to the London Bus red cabinets in the playroom and the glorious bursts of yellow in the kitchen.
“Colour transforms a space,” enthuses Terri. “It’s uplifting and energising. I couldn’t live in a dark house and an oatmeal palette just wouldn’t be for me, although I did tone things down in the living room and the master bedroom to make them more tranquil spaces.”
The house today couldn’t be further from the property Tristan and Terri first viewed several years ago. “The building needed a lot of work,” recalls Terri. “It had been largely untouched since the 1930s. The internal walls and floors were unstable and damp was a huge problem.” But they were undaunted and together with architect Suzy Freeney they stripped everything back to the brick and completely rewired and replumbed. “We also added a single-storey extension to the rear to give us a generous kitchen with large windows and patio doors to bring in as much light as possible.”
And it wasn’t just the inside of the house they upgraded. They also called in Tristan’s father, Tim Cooper, a civil engineer who previously worked as director of buildings at Trinity College in Dublin and helped to design The Green Building in Temple Bar (an energy-efficient apartment complex way ahead of its time). With his direction, they externally insulated the side and rear walls, dry lined the front wall, insulated the roof and added PV solar panels, and in doing so upgraded the property’s BER rating from a G to a B2.
Terri freely admits that Tristan takes after his father and is endlessly practical while she is, well, less so. “I know he would love to live in a perfectly curated minimalist space if he was allowed, but he’s kind of given in now to my more colourful, eclectic ways,” she laughs. “I am drawn to pieces with personality. I like things that make a statement, whether that’s the pink furry coat I wore in college, which I still have, or the diamanté skull beside my bed, I buy pieces I like and never worry too much about what they will go with or what others will think.”
Next up on her wishlist for the house, Terri would love to commission a street artist to paint the side passage wall, which is bare, grey stone at the moment. “This would transform it into a striking, colourful feature. We always talk about bringing the outside in, but this would be a way to bring the inside out.”