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Image / Living / Interiors / Property

This picturesque converted carriage house is RTÉ’s Home Of The Year 2020

by Jennifer McShane
31st Dec 2020

Ethna Dorman, and her nineteenth-century converted carriage house and hayloft in a picturesque courtyard setting in County Dublin, has scooped the coveted title of Home of the Year 2020

The converted work building on an old Dublin estate was once a carriage house and it came at a pivotal moment in her life. After her husband William passed away, she converted the space to be her retirement home, restoring much of it and making it into her perfect home.

The airy living room. Photographs: RTÉ

The living area once held two carriages and her kitchen, the two horses. Transformed, both rooms are charming with a distinctly cosy feel to them.

The furniture in the living room is centred around two bay windows. Photographs: RTÉ

She restored the building and created a partly open plan living room and kitchen, separated by the old, original stable wall screens (which remain intact) and retained the original wainscoting on the walls. The bright pastel tones of the spacious living room also enhance its natural light with views of the idyllic courtyard as a fitting backdrop.

A favourite spot

Next, Ethna explained she lowered the floor upstairs in the hayloft to give enough room for the bedrooms and bathrooms. Returning downstairs, she reflected on her favourite spot in the house; a snug containing a beautiful desk (pictured below) crafted by her husband. “When we were courting, William pointed to this desk and said he made it himself. And so, I decided to marry him on the spot!” she said.

Ethna’s favourite spot. Photographs: RTÉ

“If I had any doubts before that they vanished – he made all of the furniture in the kitchen, he was very handy with his hand. I think William would be very proud of the home I created here, which he didn’t get to live in, but lives in nonetheless.”

The dining area. Photographs: RTÉ


Upon visiting the house, the judges were immediately struck by the scenic external surroundings of the house and its courtyard, saying it had an almost “bohemian quality” to it, according to award-winning interior designer Deirdre Whelan. “I thought it was just divine really exceptional. This home oozes charm and personality. It respects its heritage and it makes the most of its setting. I am so thrilled that the carriage house won, I really am, I just thought it was pure magic.”

A view from the courtyard. Photographs: RTÉ

Ethna explained she wanted the style of her home to reflect the journey of her life, adding that her home is a peaceful sanctuary for her of which she is very proud. “I’m absolutely thrilled that I have won Home of the Year – I can’t believe it, I didn’t believe it, I still don’t believe it! My late husband William would be very proud I feel very fortunate I’m really grateful.”

An aerial view of the house and courtyard.  Photographs: RTÉ

“It’s a fantastic home it’s highly unique. I think it meets all of the criteria of a competition,” added judge Peter Crowley.

You can watch Home Of The Year now on the RTÉ Player 

Featured image: RTÉ

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