Glamour and industrial, contemporary and character; design opposites live in perfect harmony in this impressive family home
Two houses merge to create a family home that’s big on bold design
For Róisín Lafferty, design is all about impact and how our surroundings affect our mood. It’s no surprise, then, that the Dublin-based, award-winning designer’s latest project, a complete reconfiguration of a family house, has such a precise effect on mood. Airy and open, comfortable and light, the family living space is uplifting, the opulent master bedroom is serene, and the kitchen a contrast of industrial and glamour.
Each room evokes a distinct feeling, yet the spaces flow beautifully and the transitions are subtle. It is the fusion of different design specialities – interior architecture, interior design and furniture design – that makes Lafferty’s design company, Kingston Lafferty’s, work so unique.
This ability to reinvent with feeling has insured that Kingston Lafferty Design has carved a name for itself not just in Ireland but internationally, undertaking residential, retail and commercial projects in Geneva, Paris and London.
When Lafferty’s clients acquired the semi-detached 1950s house and separate side flat in Ballsbridge, Dublin, they wanted a design that would integrate the two into a functional family home that would adapt to their children’s evolving needs. They also specified a well-designed house with a wow factor. “They were excited enough to be brave about the interiors and so receptive to our ideas – this made the project so enjoyable to work on,” says Lafferty.
The larger footprint resulting from the merger of the house and flat meant addressing the issue of layout and circulation was a priority. The increased floor area allowed a luxe master suite to be accommodated, complete with dressing room. Walls were knocked through, doorways widened and a boot room was fashioned between the kitchen and the new playroom.
Once the layout was perfected, there were other challenges. “There were some tricky spaces. The landings and hall, for instance, had little natural light, so we used mirror to reflect what light there was,” says Lafferty. The next step was creating brilliant, concealed storage. “Rather than storage being left as an afterthought, we worked to incorporate it into the overall structure from the beginning,” she says.
Having perfected the layout, defined the spaces with unusual materials and interesting finishes, and detailed the joinery, it was time for Lafferty to deploy her unique interior design approach.
“We love to mix different styles and different eras, character and contemporary,” she says. “We spend a lot of time sourcing, as we like every project to be unique.” As well as using well-known suppliers, Kingston Lafferty source salvaged materials, and design bespoke pieces of furniture.
“The coffee table in the library was originally an outdoor tree-surround that we upgraded; the kitchen table is made from builders’ trestles. Creating these pieces is fun and adds interest to the house.”
The kitchen is divided from the dining and living area by a decorative limed oak wall. Kingston Lafferty Design were responsible for the table, upcycling builders’ trestles, spraying them a pale blue Dulux shade, and adding a heavy solid-ash top. The stool and black chair are from Dust.ie, the others are from CA Design.
The heavy, dreary and dated joinery of the previous kitchen cupboards and fittings had to go. Lafferty (pictured right) completely made over the space, using such design tricks as backing the Carrera marble island (below) with a bevelled mirror that reflects the new blue and white tiles by Tilestyle, a nice optical illusion that reinforces their impact.
The original room that Lafferty made over into the library was a wasted space of drab walls, furniture and atmosphere. Now it is a design triumph and signature feature of the house. Substituting a daring deep blue on the walls gave instant character and definition to the room at the same time as it allowed for other design innovations to be brought into play.
The master en suite bathroom is a tight space, so the designers continued the Fired Earth tiles from the floor and up the wall to highlight the walkway. On the wall of flat mirror, mounted bespoke mirrored cabinets create an intimate three-dimensional effect. The original bathroom could have been most generously described as utilitarian.
Kingston Lafferty Design took advantage of the enlarged master bedroom with a luxurious headboard, enveloping not just the bed but wrapping around the two pretty side tables from Graham & Green. Their choice of sophisticated grey velvet adds to the cocooning effect. It’s a luxurious contast to the relatively spartan, cramped sleeping quarters that it has replaced.
Words by: Barbara Corsico. Photography by: Barbara Corsico/living inside.