7 months ago

See Inside A Collector’s Retreat in Connemara

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For many years, the owners of this Connemara house were guests of designer Ros Walshe and her husband, artist Patrick Walshe in their rented holiday home in Claddaghduff. Following one particularly lovely summer there, Jim and Jan Shore began the search for their own property, a place where they could come every year from their base in South Carolina. It had to be big enough to have friends to stay and sufficiently versatile to be cosy and comfortable at Christmas and New Year, yet light and bright enough to bring the outdoors in in summer.

The house in the ever-changing Connemara landscape.

Ros Walshe was tasked with the research, eventually finding Stream End, a beautifully situated one-storey modern house not far from Clifden. The unique setting, combined with the fact that no structural work was needed, clinched the deal, and Shore and Walshe, with their shared lifelong love of collecting objects and antiques, immediately set about planning the look for the interior.

While beautifully designed to take advantage of the ever-changing landscape, the interior was just too minimal and streamlined for Shore’s taste. The first decision was to begin work at the heart of the house, redecorating the dual-aspect kitchen to give it a country, yet contemporary, air.

One of the previous owners, a keen chef, planned the spacious kitchen. A grouping of restaurant cloches is another attractive use for one of the owners’ many collections of objects. The weathered kitchen table and chairs are 18th-century Scandinavian.

Walshe arranged to have the work surfaces sanded back and the walls repainted in White Tie by Farrow & Ball. This alone was enough to remove the modern edge and, when the collections of objects were added, the French chandelier hanging over the vintage farmhouse table, and the cupboard handles replaced, the transformation was almost complete. All that remained was for Walshe to plunder her collection of antique numbers to number each and every cupboard, a brilliant and practical idea she borrowed from her mother, Mary Mason-Jones.

Amongst the many collections gathered by the owners is one of traditional toys, chosen for their craftsmanship; the collection of push-along dogs became so extensive the owner had to hang some on the wall.

The games and music room, completely sound-proofed thanks to the previous owner, a sound engineer, is where the kids hang out, playing music and watching movies and where Shore’s collection of antique toys is hung on the walls.

The open plan study – with salvaged school honours boards on the wall – links the kitchen with the hall. A pair of Lloyd Loom chairs dates from 1939.

Above it is the loft, where the children sleep and into which no adult ventures until it is time to clean up and depart. In the sitting room, a narrow modern fireplace surround has been replaced with an old stone window sill and sofas are covered in a faded floral chintz and Shore’s collection of antique patchwork fabrics mixed with tweeds. In the study, salvaged school honours boards and in the hall, an old industrial tool bench add character and interest.

A collection of needlepoint tapestries was framed and hung in the hallway; the oil painting is by Patrick Walshe.

For the bedrooms, Walshe and Shore continued their search for interesting pieces in antique markets in France, finding wall lights and battered leather chairs as well as old mirrors and pretty antique knobs for doors and drawers.

The master bedroom with French marble-topped walnut chest, sofa in blue-grey trimmed with taupe velvet and French wall lights. The oils of flowers were collected in junk shops all over the world.

In winter, velvet curtains from Ikea create a cosy interior but it is in summer when this house comes into its own and the stunning views of the mountains and the sea can be appreciated to the full.

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