Creating a Sense of Permanence


Architect John Kelly and designer Eoin Lyons and their practice LyonsKelly are no strangers to domestic reinvention in houses of all shapes and sizes, from all periods and via different budgets, their work of late seems to have cornered a part of the market that’s less tried and tested but might have far-reaching influence: beautifying the new build. With austerity a word that’s been consigned to the dustbin, the challenge is just how to make modern spaces inviting rather than hard-edged, humanising rather than alienating. “Many people love the idea of living in new builds for all the obvious advantages they bring in terms of streamlined aesthetics, convenience, energy rating, yet most do not want to live in a space that is sharp, austere or stark,” says Lyons. It’s about balancing the modern with the liveable to create a contemporary environment that isn’t one dimensional. It’s also about the appropriateness of the interior that makes a new build work. “It’s not just about furnishings and mixing styles and eras, it’s about careful choices of floor treatments and joinery, about scaling intimate and grand, about sound and privacy, restraint and fun.”

When golfer Shane Lowry and his then fiancée Wendy Honner decided to buy their Victorian-style redbrick new build in south Dublin, they wanted a shell so the layout could be adapted to their needs and so they could specify exactly how they wanted the interior. They commissioned LyonsKelly to create a sense of permanence and to design an interior that would be a neutral backdrop onto which interesting pieces could be placed. “The brief for the interior was traditional with a kick. As young clients, they wanted it to be fun and vibrant, and they wanted guests to feel at ease so comfort was a priority.”

To create the sense of tradition and permanence, herringbone oak floors were selected to run throughout the ground floor, their dark colour balancing the paler wall colours. LyonsKelly designed panelling with an Arts & Crafts simplicity for the walls: “Panelling brings depth,” says Lyons, “adding a traditional vibe, without being at all old-fashioned.” The panelling also allowed the designers to incorporate storage and to recess the television. The main living space is long, presenting the challenge of how to successfully divide it to include intimate seating and a dining area. The solution was to break up the sequence of spaces by placing two sofas in the middle, thus creating a central sitting area with the dining area at one end and an additional seating area at the opposite end of the room. The decoration here is about contrasts. There are simple linen curtains and the tables have rustic wood surfaces, with more glamorous brass lighting for sparkle. Colour is introduced through accessories – mustard cushions, green felt dining chairs and colourful vases and objects. Upstairs, the first floor comprises a luxe master suite with bedroom, dressing room and bathroom. The palette is grey and pale blue and cream with shots of colour in smaller items like the orange velvet chair.  

The dressing room cabinetry designed by LyonsKelly. The shell chandelier is from Arteriors.

In the living room, the blue velvet armchair and footstool are from Cavey Interior Design and the curtains made by Mary Wrynne. The wall paint is Dove Tail by Farrow & Ball.

The sofas are covered in a soft Irish-made tweed by Stable. The brass cube pendant is by Visual Comfort.

In the hall, LyonsKelly-designed panelling and oak floors by Hardwood Flooring Company. The console is from Hedgeroe and the lamp by Porta Romano.

The orange velvet chair is B&B Italia from Minima and the grey velvet bench is by Jonathan Adler. @lyonskellydesign


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