Join us for IMAGE Active’s Trail Run Club in beautiful Co. Wicklow
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This Kenmare home combines the charm of cottage-inspired details with a connection to the outdoors

This Kenmare home combines the charm of cottage-inspired details with a connection to the outdoors


by Megan Burns
14th Mar 2024

With a beautiful garden and mountain views, it’s a space that feels both cosy and serene.

Anyone who has visited Nest in Kenmare knows that its owner, Katherine Murphy, has an eye for beautiful things, and this is also apparent in her home just outside the town. 

Katherine explains that she and her late husband bought it over 20 years ago. “We fell in love, probably more with the location than the house! The house at that time was already 40 years old so was in need of some renovation. We ripped the kitchen out and later added on the sunroom.” 

She says that the home has always had a serene vibe. “The atmosphere from day one was very special. I remember that it felt like being on holiday. We immediately started planting climbing plants at the front of the house as we planned to have an outdoor terrace with a long pergola which would connect indoor seamlessly with the outdoors.”

When it came to choosing pieces for the home, it was a slow and deliberate process. “I especially like authenticity so we went for natural surfaces and furnishings,” Katherine says. 

“As with food, the provenance of everything in my home matters to me. As well as surrounding myself with interesting objects that appeal to my senses, I like to be reminded of where they came from. We curated only items we loved, as we could afford them, bit by bit. I think this made for a better, more satisfying collection of things as each one had a story.”

Some favourite pieces include an oak cot and a chest of drawers from a house sale, and the oak and wool sofa in the sunroom designed by architects Carson and Crushell before they started their practice.

There are also many touches that are personal to Katherine and her husband. “I love art and am very lucky in this part of the world to know so many artists. My late husband, Con, before becoming a restaurateur, was a geologist so we have many fossils throughout the house. Some we had embedded in the plaster in the walls. I like seeing fossils about the place, they are a pleasant reminder of time and mortality. Equally I like movement, and there are many corners with Flensted mobiles, which are available in my shop, Nest.”

The garden too feels like such an important part of the home. The climbing plants on the pergola were selected for different reasons, such as shade, flowers, and scent, and the array of plants includes kiwi, jasmine, quince, rose, wisteria, and climbing hydrangea.

Katherine also explains that they considered different shapes, sizes and textures in the garden, “so there’s quite an exotic vibe with tree ferns, banana, and ginger lilies. Nothing about the garden is too managed or manicured though – it all peters out into natural rural, wildness.

“The garden encourages me to always look forward, every season brings something new, snowdrops, magnolia, watsonia, sedum.”

The garden is one of Katherine’s favourite aspects of the home. “On every side of the house you can walk out to an outdoor area to sit and eat or read. My favourite side of the house is a tiled veranda which is open at the sides but has a glass roof so I like to sit there when it’s drizzling and not get wet.

“I think more Irish architecture should incorporate an outdoor area that is in some way protected from the rain. We’ve probably all read a bit about the Norwegian idea of ‘Friluftsliv’, which is embracing the outdoors whatever the weather and I think this is a very sensible idea in any northern European country which is partial to greyness and rain.” 

She also takes any chance to bring the outdoors in, whether it’s wild flowers on the kitchen table, or collecting pine cones for her fireside basket.”

Katherine’s shop, Nest, was set up almost 16 years ago. “The Irish word for Kenmare is Néidín which means little nest as it is surrounded by mountains, hence the name. The shop is an eclectic collection of curated brands and items that I simply like myself. There are many items from my shop in Garden House: throws , rugs and cushions from Klippan, quilt sets from Mimi & Bowe of Dublin, Alessi kitchen utensils, lampshades from Ian Snow, eucalyptus deckchairs from Portugal, and the Lexon bluetooth speaker.”

Garden House is available for short lettings all year. @gardenhousekenmare

Photography: Visual Feasts 

This article was originally published in November 2023.

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