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Image / Living / Interiors

Inside this Cork new-build, the first finalist for Home of the Year 2021


by Lauren Heskin
17th Feb 2021

via instagram

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Known as the "black house", this imposing new home in Co Cork is surprisingly cosy inside, thanks to an eclectic mix of furniture and the strong aesthetic of its owner, David O'Brien.

It’s back! Home of the Year finally arrived back on RTÉ last night, featuring two new judges – designer Suzie McAdam, who was our 2019 Interior Designer of the Year, and architect Amanda Bone, as well as the return of a surprisingly chipper (for this episode at least) Hugh Wallace.

The first week saw the judges visit three homes – a beautifully restored and extended farmhouse in Clare; a moody, industrial semi-d in Westmeath and a rural new-build in Cork. While I think we can all agree that the real star of the show was Suzie’s YSL sunglasses, the winner and first finalist of Home of the Year’s 2021 season, is David O’Brien’s home in Cork.

The House

David, an interior designer and project manager, said he wanted to build a black house, and he did exactly that. As Hugh pointed out, it’s a dark, modern home in the middle of rural Cork so it shouldn’t work, and yet the corrugated steel cladding and gable design of the house means it looks like a hay barn, fitting in seamlessly with the surrounding fields.

Inside, however, it is anything but bucolic, with a large, L-shaped kitchen/dining/living area that opens onto a large patio area. The windows are predominantly focused on the rear of the house to maintain privacy while capturing the rolling hills.

In the kitchen, simple navy-grey units and a white stone countertop allow David’s island, a vintage piano, to do all of the talking. A pantry and fridge are tucked behind a sliding door that disappears completely when closed.

In the living area, a range of design genres can be found, from ornate timber trunks to a leather Chesterfield and a mid-century modern sofa. However, the eclectic interiors are kept grounded by a concrete floor, which runs throughout the house and is warmed with plenty of Persian rugs. 

What the judges thought

For anyone who has peeked inside Suzie McAdam’s house (the recent cover star of Image Interiors Annual), you’ll know that Paul’s mix of modern and period furniture was going to be right up her alley. Suzie scored it a 10, saying “eclectic interiors can be really hard to achieve without feeling forced and contrived, whereas this home its really natural, all the pieces sit well in their space.”

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Amanda said, “When we were outside I had expected a much more minimalist, monastic feel to the inside but when you’re in the house it’s much more bohemian. The two blends and they sit well together.” Scoring it a 9, combined with Hugh’s 9, it’s officially on its way to the final.

If you would like to see more of the house, we’d recommend following David’s account, @newbuildireland, where you can experience the full project from the beginning.