This Dublin 7 home has warmth, comfort and greenery at every turn
A couple who love to entertain have created the perfect space for doing so in this Stoneybatter home.
With crisp white walls hosting a growing collection of art, layers of lighting, glints of brass and humble materials used throughout, there is a homely comfort to Dean and Eimhin’s recently renovated two-up two-down on Stoneybatter’s Oxmantown Road.
“We’ve always had a really strong appreciation for the importance of a home,” says Eimhin, “and we’ve always tried to build a home out of any house we’ve lived together in.” Now 14 years together, and a medical scientist and managing director of an education charity respectively, neither has a professional background in design or interiors.
“We’re just winging it, really,” says Dean. “But we’ve always had an interest. Even when we were renting in Dublin, we’d be bad tenants, painting walls and hanging things up. We started buying furniture while we were renting and down through the years picked up mostly vintage pieces.”
This slowly gathered collection of furniture is now mixed with a handful of new Scandi design pieces, balancing the warmth of imperfect wood with smart shapes and modern fabrics. Their early days of dating, when Eimhin landed a plum housesitting gig in Portobello, really influenced how the couple live now.
Eimhin was looking after two cats for a couple who they now refer to as their “gay grandads”. “We didn’t know ourselves,” Eimhin says, while Dean adds, “I think that’s probably where we got our notions from.” There was one rule while housesitting, which Eimhin assumed would be “no parties”. Conversely, the owners sat him down and insisted he must entertain.
“Entertaining was such a big part of Ian and Jim’s life, so we had to have parties, and we were given a list of friends and neighbours who needed to be invited.” The pair gave it their best shot, preparing outrageous finger food and complicated dishes for a dining table that fit 18 people.
“I think, if anything, over the years our parties have become a little less sophisticated,” laughs Dean. Still, this welcoming sentiment is the reason why Dean and Eimhin’s dining table takes up a lot of the space in their living area.
“Entertaining is just so important to making a home for us,” says Eimhin. Alas, entertaining hasn’t been a real possibility yet, as the couple moved in in November 2019, and only had time for a handful of dinner guests before Covid hit and lockdown began.
When house-hunting, Dean and Eimhin had viewed three houses in Stoneybatter in the one evening, and this one stuck out as the owners were mid-renovation but needed to move back to the UK. “There was an opportunity for us to put our own stamp on it,” explains Eimhin.
“Things were quite plain but structurally sound. We loved the high ceilings too. They make such a difference for light, as do the two courtyards. You get light all day long, all around the house. There’s no dark pockets, which has been really amazing in the last year.”
Things were pretty sound. The inner courtyard had been created, and the rewiring, replumbing, insulating and replastering had been completed. The layout had already been revised, so instead of the traditional parlour room to the front of the house, there was now a kitchen, which opened up onto the living/dining area, and to the rear of the house was the bathroom and a study.
An inner tiled courtyard and a backyard lets in light, while upstairs is the bedroom and a second living room that converts into a guest bedroom. To boot, everything was already painted white, a true blank canvas. With a gaggle of vintage furniture, they tried to use as much as would work in the new home, but wanted a larger dining table, a new bed, and were looking for a couch to fit under the stairs, which took a long time to find.
“It’s hard to find a nice two-seater,” says Eimhin, “but we did find one and we were able to try it out before the shops closed again last October. Dean took particular enjoyment in sourcing the light fittings – “Lighting is very much Dean’s thing,” Eimhin adds. Dean studied in Sweden and has a lot of Swedish friends, and so he cites visiting people’s homes there as influencing his design view.
“When you get to know the Swedish people, and you’re in their houses, you realise it’s not this sort of textbook minimalism at all. It’s about creating a really nice home that you’re comfortable in. There’s a real focus on home building.”
In the study where he works, Eimhin has his family memorabilia on display, from coffee cups to cigarette holders, medals belonging to his great-grandfather to “all sorts of mad cutlery that Dean is disgusted about” and “a million and one different types of fish knives”.
Dean interjects with a diplomatic “they’re just not the most simple design”, before Eimhin continues: “My grandmother was an amazing entertainer. I remember all the stuff, when I was a kid, that she would’ve had out for parties and gatherings. I never knew my great-grandparents, but I imagine they were entertainers as well. It’s nice to have these pieces from the past.”
Photography: Shantanu Starick
Styling: Ciara O’Donovan