The Luxury Of Simplicity

Interior designer MIRIAM PETERS blends simplicity and refinement in the elegant restoration of a 17th-CENTURY FARM DWELLING outside Dublin. The result? The essence of SIMPLE LUXURY

 

When, in 2015, interior designer Miriam Peters was introduced to a hidden-away, rather unloved, property on the outskirts of Dublin, she could see beyond its down-at-heel state to a more beautiful future. It had a lovely feel, lots of character and infinite potential to become the comfortable family home desired by her client. Set in a gorgeous but overgrown garden, and surrounded by mature trees, its modest scale hinted at humble beginnings as a former farm dwelling: other clues suggested layers of later improvements.

 

Through one of its previous owners, an architect, Peters learned the history of the house stretched back over four centuries. There were vestiges of the 17th-century in its beautiful windows, and evidence of subsequent amendments in the 18th and 19th centuries, including the addition of a Victorian extension with bay windows and, later still, traces of a more recent 1950s make-over. With parts of the house almost 400 years old, Peters prioritised conserving as much character as possible. “It was a truly unique space and, while I knew creating a beautiful family home would entail paring the structure back to its core and extending to create a kitchen dining area, the challenge was to achieve both without obliterating the past.” Peters wanted anything that could be saved – doors, windows, shutters – stored and restored for use later. “Respecting all the historical aspects of the house was challenging, but ultimately designing the extension with a mix of old and new materials resulted in a much more interesting outcome.”

 

As founder and owner of Minnie Peters, the interior design consultancy and online store, Peters has an established modus operandi when it comes to period projects: “I always try to celebrate the history of the structure while creating something new.” Her preferred way of working is to set out the essentials and get them right. “I always ask what is going to bring character to each room.”

 

The house presented a unique opportunity to create a luxury home in a characterful informal style where modern amenities like a powerful hot water system and underfloor heating were part of the plan. Peters’ husband Nigel Bray’s background in building came into play. Working as a husband and wife team on many projects, their strengths are complementary, Peters as a designer and Bray as project manager. “Research, sourcing and logistics are always key in marrying the new, the old and the reclaimed in order to realise the final design I am trying to achieve,” says Peters.

 

Rather than create a perfect shell with no budget left to spend on finishing touches, she incorporates furniture and fittings into the scheme from the outset. “It’s really important I hand over a very beautiful, furnished home and not just a house.” It’s a wholly client-centred approach. “Too often, the furniture is the very last thing that’s thought about and inevitably, no matter how beautiful the spaces, if the sofas, tables, chairs and bookcases are not right, the home will just not feel right.” Over the years, she has amassed knowledge of bespoke furniture makers and antique dealers all over Europe. Many of these feature in Peters’ online store, www.minniepeters.com, along with antiques and one-offs found on her travels.

 

The result is luxurious – but it’s the sort of luxury that is not about how much you spend, but more about what you invest in. She encourages clients not to confuse opulence with luxury or glitz with comfort or polish. In her popular masterclasses, Peters stresses the importance of setting aside budget for the final layer of furnishings. “Choose selectively and spend wisely, comfort is key and everything does not need to be finished in one go. Enjoy the process of personalising your home.” Peters’ motto: “Your shoes, bed and sofa should always be comfortable – because if you’re not in one, you’re in another.”

Photographed by Simon Watson

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