See Inside an Apartment Within a 19th-Century Dublin Carriage House

CLODAGH NOLAN shows how she restructured an apartment within an old Dublin carriage house, cleverly configuring light and space to achieve a cool and peaceful feel in a city building …

In the master bedroom, white walls and bed linen create a restful mood. The customised concertina shutters are the only window dressing throughout the apartment.

When an apartment in a 19th-century carriage house in Dublin went on the market some years ago, the potential owners loved its prime position but not the characteristics of its 1980s-style conversion. They commissioned architect-turned-design consultant, Clodagh Nolan, to transform it into the perfect town pied-à-terre.

She restructured the space and devised a new layout encompassing two bedrooms and bathrooms, an open plan living space and study, and all within 89 square metres. Apart from lovely restored sash windows and the chimneypiece wall, which she retained, other 1980s additions were removed and freestanding and curved walls were added to separate living from sleeping areas.

Still a focal point, the original chimneypiece wall now contains a smaller fireplace opening with simple limestone surround. A wall of storage provides a home for books and the clients’ collection of porcelain.

The entire space was remodelled to give a more modern feel. Doors that were taller than the norm were used, and cornices and skirtings were removed so walls were flush with the pale oak floor.

The apartment is entered via a small hallway at ground level where, at the foot of an angled stairs to the first floor, a practical utility space was fashioned. Upstairs, a study-cum-third bedroom is on the left beside a shower room and ahead, a curved wall leads to the right form where the entire apartment can be seen. The smaller of the two bedrooms is first, then the kitchen, occupying a central position and accessible from both sides of the space, making it a genuine hub.

A unified colour scheme gives a sense of coherence to the overall design. In the kitchen, the clever space solutions extend to ceiling-level cupboards for long-term storage, and recessed shelving to either side of the dining table and chairs.

The neat design maximises height to create high-level storage and the absence of doors boxing it off means that although the kitchen is compact, it doesn’t feel hemmed in, even when guests come to dinner. Next is the living area, a seemingly large and airy space, Nolan’s aesthetic of combining light and volume making it appear twice its actual size. Greenery can be seen in every direction through the windows with their newly customised concertina shutters – the only window dressing. Still a focal point, the original chimneypiece wall now contains a smaller fireplace opening with a simple limestone the only window dressing.


The space achieves a simple harmony with a palette of sage green and celadon grey with touches of lilac and plum. The soft, restful scheme is given an edge by well-chosen materials in furniture and fittings – aluminium, glass mosaic, stainless steel, concrete, pale oak and ceramics – and the pieces of Irish art in every room.

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