The dark attic lit up by a little interior inspiration

In a world where remote working is fast becoming the norm, living beyond the capital’s commuter belt and retaining a small city pad might well be the shape of things to come. For a business owner in the Midlands, keeping a city pied à terre has long proved a wily move.

“We live in the country and in a quiet little place, but we have business interests in Dublin,” says the owner, who has a boutique hotel business in the midlands. Having bought the four-storey building on South Frederick Street in Dublin 2 as an investment property some years before, she decided to rent the accommodations on the first three floors and retain the attic as a bolthole for the family. But the 55sq m flat felt more pokey than cosy.

South Frederick St. Photograph: Thomas Leggett
South Frederick St. Photograph: Thomas Leggett
South Frederick St. Photograph: Thomas Leggett
South Frederick St. Photograph: Thomas Leggett

“We didn’t actually spend much time in it as it wasn’t all that nice,” she admits. “We decided to spend a little bit of money to do it up properly. We wanted to get advice on how to do up the place properly – because of the angles and the sloped ceilings it was difficult for me to visualise doing it on my own.”

With a budget of around €35,000 in mind, the property owner engaged interior designer Caroline Flannery (interiorsbycaroline.ie) with a view to putting “more architectural hand” on the project. The brief was deceptively simple: maximise the limited living space.

“It was a really awkward space, with lots of slopes and nooks and crannies, which are notoriously difficult to design anyway,” Flannery recalls. “It’s hard to get furniture that fits into the nooks and crannies – it can end up looking a bit hodgepodge and cluttered. We had to figure out a way to make the space work for an owner, who wanted to use the flat to socialise and relax.”

South Frederick St. Photograph: Thomas Leggett
South Frederick St. Photograph: Thomas Leggett
South Frederick St. Photograph: Thomas Leggett
South Frederick St. Photograph: Thomas Leggett

Flannery’s first port of call was to build usable spaces into the nooks. “We built a breakfast bar into the living room, and on the other side, we created a library with a little bench that works as a versatile space.”

Mindful of creating the illusion of space, Flannery used the motto “the eye has to travel”. She removed the existing dark wooden floors for a lighter wood, and removed pendant lighting in favour of uplighters and downlighters built into several of the nooks.

“In the hallway, the brass light fittings now draw the eye up, and painted the ceiling with the darkest colours in the wallpaper that was already there. The trick is to create a sense of wholeness and bring your eye to the ceiling,” Flannery explains.

South Frederick St. Photograph: Thomas Leggett
South Frederick St. Photograph: Thomas Leggett
South Frederick St attic. Photograph: Thomas Leggett
South Frederick St attic. Photograph: Thomas Leggett

Bold colours dominate the formerly neutral space, and cohesion between the different rooms was key. Aside from the enlivening Down Pipe paint (Farrow & Ball) in the hallway,

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Thumbs: ‘Used Mexicans,’ Willie lit at White House, Big Tex’s face-diaper

[Thumbs up] Big Tex is 55 feet tall and made of steel and silicone, but even he’s not a big enough dummy to spurn a mask during the pandemic. The iconic animatronic statue that greets visitors at Dallas’ Fair Park is sporting the protective gear this year — emblazoned with his “howdy folks!” catchphrase, of course — to spread the word on the importance of face coverings. “All Texans are being asked to do the same and he is standing in solidarity with all of us,” State Fair of Texas spokeswoman Karissa Condoianis said in a statement. Unsurprisingly, some conservative activists are decrying the move as “virtue signaling,” “stupid” and they’re shaming Big Texas for his “face diaper,” according to the Dallas Morning News. This vocal minority, which equates life-saving face masks with communist tyranny, is precisely why we need a wiser, more evolved Texan to step in.

[Thumbs up] Speaking of 55-feet high Texas icons, Willie Nelson did indeed smoke weed on the White House roof, according to President Jimmy Carter, who recently confirmed the singer’s claims from his 1998 autobiography. Speaking in the new documentary “Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President,” the former POTUS did Willie one better and revealed the identity of the red-headed stranger’s pot-smoking compadre as Chip Carter, one of the president’s sons. With all the D.C. malfeasance, even back in 1980, Willie and Chip’s stoner adventure seems quaint. It’s sad, though, that we’ve gone from a world where the president’s son hangs out with a gifted American songwriter and music legend to one where Don Jr. pals around with, well, Kid Rock. Ain’t it funny how time slips away?

[Thumbs twiddled] Willie was years ahead in his weedy ways, but the Texas Legislature may soon be catching up. Several Democratic candidates we spoke with recently mentioned legalizing pot as a possible revenue generator to shore up the state’s budget shortfall, a big jump from Texas’ restrictive existing medical marijuana program. But it’s not just Democrats who are rethinking pot. After touring an Austin-area grow facility, Republican Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said he was all for expanded medicinal use. “If it’ll help somebody, I’m for it. Whatever it is. I mean, a toothache, I don’t care,” he said. Granted, Democrats could do better than the scandal-prone commissioner who once inspired the Chronicle editorial “How long will Texans have to tolerate Sid Miller?” but you have to start your bipartisan support rolling somewhere. Meet you at the top of the Capitol dome, Sid. We’ll leave the lantern on.

[Thumbs up] On to a different kind of smoking, as Texas Monthly reports that an Austin-based company is working on a lab-grown brisket. Hold on, before we grab the pitchforks let’s hear them out. Apparently, BioBQ founders Katie Kam and Janet Zoldan respect the complexity of a good brisket and set a high bar on purpose. “It seemed like a great, challenging meat to demonstrate this technology working,” Kam said, adding that if you can design brisket

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