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.
“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.”
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.
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,