Hobby rooms are increasingly popular, with many Irish interior designers incorporating these creative spaces into projects …
“We are being asked to create technology-free spaces more regularly nowadays,” says Roisin Lafferty, of Kingston Lafferty Design. “People want to be able to disconnect and switch off from social media and smart TVs and indulge their hobbies.” Take, for instance, a music room Lafferty designed recently. “The client wanted a separate space that could link to the kitchen and lounge, to relax and unwind and to enjoy his large vinyl collection on his record player. He also has a small collection of guitars that he enjoys playing and wanted a corner best suited for strumming and practising.” Lafferty merged vintage pieces and comfortable furniture. The result is a contemporary take on the classic, aristocratic music room.
Music rooms were especially popular in the 18th- and 19th-century when a musical education was a cultural imperative. The National Museum of Ireland relates how these rooms were designed and furnished “to enhance the music, support the performer, and create an ambiance for the audience.” Visitors to 12 Henrietta Street, Dublin can view the original music room which retains floorboards and plasterwork from 1737 and a grand piano. The placement of pianos in similar rooms was important – the soprano part of the keyboard was always toward the listener, while upright pianos were placed at an angle from the wall to increase the acoustic effect and ensure that the player was in view. During the Victorian era, the performer would use either a piano stool or a revolving chair. These were elegantly designed, inlaid with wood and elaborately carved, just like the instruments. John Egan and Samuel Morland were two much coveted 19th-century Irish musical instrument makers – their harps and pianos are now of value to collectors.
Bang up to date, but also enhancing and creating an environment for music lovers’ enjoyment is the new Hard Rock Hotel Dublin. Music memorabilia from artists such as David Bowie, Phil Lynott, Van Morrison, and Kurt Cobain, is displayed around the hotel, designed by Adrian Lambe of Douglas Wallace, while in-room Crosley vinyl turntables and records are part of the hotel’s “Sound of Your Stay” programme. There’s also a chance to rock out on an iconic Fender guitar in a completely soundproof room, with amp and headphones.
Dedicated music rooms such as these are rare, but their creation often gives designers a chance to expand their repertoire. Gregory Curran, of Gregory Curran Design, recently enjoyed working with a young family to create a music room, to facilitate their shared passion and house multiple instruments. “The home is a two-storey over basement property on Lesson Park, Dublin 2, with the kitchen, living, dining and playroom on the lower level. We decided to put the music room in one of the main reception rooms on the ground floor. Often these rooms can be under-used as most of the living takes place downstairs.” Homeowner Rosaleen Byrne now basks in the compliments for this space, which her four children use for piano, cello, flute lessons and practice and the odd bit of Lego construction too. “We have a lovely baby grand piano which was always a dream of mine. It was the last piece of furniture I purchased after I renovated five years ago and is a lovely piece of furniture,” says Byrne who tends to use the room late at night for her own piano playing, or just to read and unwind. “My son wants to learn how to play the drums but I don’t think we will be accommodating that. Guitar is his next choice which will be fine.”
“In essence the key ingredients for any hobby room is a balance of functionality and design.”
To create a similar space without the help of a designer, remember sound absorption techniques enhance acoustics. Area rugs, with pads placed over tile or hardwood floors help muffle sounds, while wool fibres have a higher rate of sound absorption than synthetic yarns. Plants also make good sound absorbers, as do insulated curtains to reduce sound reflecting off glass.
Natasha Rocca Devine, author of Awareness, Creating your Own Balance in Life, believes creating a hobby room at home can be key to balance, health and happiness, something she has put into practice in her own home. “It is a place to relax, retreat and create new ideas.” Devine, who runs a home staging company and counts Knight Frank, Hollybrook Homes and Owen Reilly property as clients, feels the design necessities are lighting, both artificial and natural, and functional, though comfortable furniture. “I also try to incorporate as many earth-friendly and renewable fabrics and wood into any project I work on.”
Minnie Peters’ specific requests for hobby rooms have included cinema rooms, private bar areas, pool rooms, a man’s den and writing rooms. For the latter Peters explains, “The key to getting this right is all in the aspect: lots of natural light and views, if possible, for inspiration is a priority.”
While a balance of functionality and design is important, don’t forget to add some fun. Byrne’s advice is to make these spaces as inviting as possible so that families will thrive in them. “I am really glad that I didn’t keep my music room as a sterile dining room as it would rarely have been used.”
Three Hobby Rooms Completed by Roisin Lafferty; Kingston Lafferty Design
We recently worked on a young family home and creating a music room was an important part of the brief for our client. He wanted a separate space that could link to the kitchen and lounge, to relax and unwind and to enjoy his large vinyl collection on his record player. He also has a small collection of guitars that he enjoys playing and wanted a corner best suited for strumming and practising. We kept the space chilled and relaxed merging vintage client pieces and comfortable furniture.
Gardening is a hobby a lot of our clients have. Not everyone is fully green fingered but with a focus on “grow your own” more and more people want a contained planter bed to grow small plants, herbs and veggies.
We designed these two different garden spaces very much as a continuation of the interior, to create a designated outdoor space to work on some gardening. The planter beds are small and confined so that they are not daunting to plant or maintain. Right next to the house, this is effectively an outdoor room for them to work on their skills.
We are being asked to create technology free spaces in a lot of our homes these days. People want to be able to disconnect and switch off from social media and smart TVs. More emphasis is being paid to mindfulness and reading nooks and spaces are a lot more sought after. Reading room and library spaces have a timeless sensitivity to them. There is something about curling up on a comfy sofa and flipping through a real book, the touch of the paper and the smell of the dust that comes with it. The whole ritual of reading and dedicating a place and time to read is one that is only becoming more appreciated.
Main featured image: SS20 Designer’s Guild, Grandiflora Rosa collection
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