An interesting MIX OF ANTIQUES, a fresh palette and a FRENCH TOUCH give this house a sensitive update …
While house-hounting, the owners of this very early Victorian house on Dublin’s southside were convinced they were committed urbanites. That was, until they were seduced by the location, the spaciousness of the interior, the high ceilings and the light of this generously-proportioned house on a raised site overlooking the sea. Every room had double-aspect sash windows which maximised light at every hour of the day, and pretty spectacular views. As they considered its many charms, all good reasons to live near town receded.
The previous owners had not interfered with the basic classic layout of two generous rooms either side of the hall and landing on the ground and first floors, so there were no alterations or ugly additions for the new residents to undo. They decided to live in the house for a year before beginning to renovate. Redrawing the floor plan at garden level was necessary, to bring kitchen, utility room, cloakroom, and a small sitting room off the kitchen up to the standard of the rest of the house.
Not wanting to live in “a beautiful iceberg”, as they say, they wanted to make the house as warm and energy-efficient as possible. Installing underfloor heating under the new terrazzo floor at the garden level was difficult, given that the house was built on granite. They also added a modern extension by Gottstein Architects, who also oversaw the work in the rest of the house, to provide a terrace off the ground floor drawing room and an extra sitting room below at garden level. The protracted period spent getting these modernising measures in place did provide one benefit however, giving them more time to think about the decorative stage.
Sash windows and period cornicing needed only to be lightly restored. So the most important step was creating a decorative coherence from one room to another, while making each room feel like it had the right atmosphere for its purpose. A light, bright drawing room would reflect the colours of the sea and garden, while the dining room should, they felt, be moody and glamorous.
The owners had been collecting antique furniture for years, combining trips to the markets of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue in Provence with browsing on Dublin’s Francis Street. Since they didn’t have a house, they worried that buying pieces simply because they liked them would result in a disjointed look when they finally put them together in a home.
But given the elegant and calm backdrop the redecoration provides, Irish and French antiques, dating from the late Georgian and early Victorian periods, along with some Art Deco pieces, sit very happily alongside each other, the palette of sea foam, blue and grey highlighting the antique furniture. The owners emphatically did not want the house to feel like a museum, preferring the juxtaposition of old with modern pieces to create a timeless interior which can evolve gradually over time. The addition of luxurious contemporary rugs in soft colours provides a modern counterpoint while French touches, like sconce lighting, encaustic tiles in the bathrooms and gilded mirrors and lamps are a decorative contrast.
Photographs by Luke White
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