An Australian/Irish couple, keen to bring the sunshine back from Sydney to their new home in Dublin, chose a Northern European aesthetic to combine colour and functionality with great comfort …
Photographed by RUTH MARIA MURPHY
Relocating from Sydney to Dublin after years raising a family usually involves a lot of baggage, movers and weeks of unpacking. But, apart from a few artworks and personal belongings, this couple, their two children and a dog arrived relatively unencumbered. Their plan was to start afresh with new furniture, rugs and accessories and bring some Aussie sunshine into their new Irish abode.
The couple – he Irish, she Australian – set their sights on Dublin 6 as he had grown up in the area. As soon as the house was sale agreed, they reached out to designer Helle Moyna for help with furnishing and sourcing. Recommended by a mutual contact who believed there would be a meeting of minds, at the first encounter, they clicked. “They knew exactly what they wanted,” says Helle. “Lots of colour, functionality so every room works on a day-to-day basis, and great comfort.” Despite Danish-born Helle’s strength as a Scandinavian interior specialist (she owns Nordic Elements in Blackrock, Co Dublin), the conversations were less around a Nordic design aesthetic and more about finding furniture and layouts that would make the rooms work. Unsurprisingly though, by the end of the collaborative process, the chosen colour palettes, furniture, lighting, textiles and accessories had a distinct Northern European flavour, and a combination of colours and textures that the clients absolutely loved.
While the three-storey period house had been recently renovated and extended, a decorative facelift, bespoke joinery and full project management was assigned to Helle’s design team. A bright yellow front door opens to an impressive hall with stained glass windows. A bespoke console and simple and beautiful mid-century style Nordic furniture and accessories were selected to balance the Georgian detailing. The kitchen, finished in taupe and sage, was not to the clients’ style but was in such good condition and far too well-made to jettison. Instead of replacing it, Helle suggested they paint it, starting with one unit to see how they liked the effect. The Farrow & Ball Pitch Black shade, new cabinetry handles (by Buster & Punch) and pendant lights from Rubn totally transformed the kitchen’s traditional vibe to a more contemporary look. At the garden end of the space, Helle created a small area to sit, read and relax and, in the games room cum library that leads off the kitchen, a sofa picks up the yellow accents in the kitchen and in the garden, where the furniture is yellow powder-coated steel by Petite Friture and can be left outdoors all year round.
One of Helle’s signature style touches is sourcing flexible pieces that can move around to different rooms – for instance, an occasional chair that is required in the drawing room and in a bedroom can be a pair, with both upholstered in the same material or complementary colours so they can be taken from one space to another and not look out of place.
The main focus during the entire process was to “buy well and buy less”, invest in the pieces that are going to be used most, such as sofas, dining tables and chairs and look at these as life investments or modern heirlooms. “I think we should preserve as much as possible: re-paint, re-upholster, use elsewhere … and while of course you can have what you want if you can afford it, ask yourself, is it strictly necessary?” says Helle.
Simple and beautiful Verner Panton-designed Verpan Fun pendants (designed in 1964) and a sheepskin-upholstered TMBO chair by Mazo complement the Georgian features.
The “country-style” kitchen was given a contemporary makeover by painting it Pitch Black by Farrow & Ball and changing the cabinetry handles and the island pendant lights.
The garden end of the kitchen is for reading and relaxing on the blue Bon sofa by Adea and the Mango chair and footstool. The maroon tripod floor lamp is a pop of colour echoing the artwork by Felicity Clear.
The dining table is the extendable Jewel open steel-frame table by dk3 with solid oak top; the Verpan 430 chairs are upholstered in a deep blue velvet.
In the drawing room, the 1950s wall lights by Paavo Tynell and the mirror are by Gubi. The natural oak Sussex sideboard is by Punt. A Khadrat wool-covered Hold sofa by Wendelbo and the Moor rug by &Tradition, both in navy, unify the colour scheme. The cushions are by Christina Lundsteen and the Gloria candleholders on the mantelpiece are by Klong.
The Stockholm TV storage system with gold metallic surface by Punt and the Mango chair and footstool add elegance to the drawing room.
The comfortable library and games room with a large Rest sofa by Muuto in bright yellow, Rya rug by Massimo and Ethnicraft table. The artwork is by Daniel Holfeld.
The master bedroom with bed from made.com, bedside lights by Rubn, linen bedspread by &Tradition, cushions by Christina Lundsteen. The Lantern pendant by Kaare Klint (designed in 1944) is also used in various sizes in all the bedrooms.