Interiors: a Cannes conversion

An apartment with a bird’s eye view of the red carpet in Cannes has been given a makeover by Irish interior designer Denise Ryan


If you’ve ever dined at One Pico, shopped at the Organic Supermarket in Blackrock or sipped a pint in Mulligan’s of Sandymount then you’ve come across the work of Fineline Interiors run by Denise Ryan, a commercial interior designer who moved to Luxembourg four years ago.

Luxembourg may strike you as a style backwater – banking is the largest sector in Luxembourg’s economy – but the city is close to some of the world’s most interesting home hubs: it’s two hours to Paris where Ryan attends Maison et Objet, the trend-setting interiors fair, and a similar amount of time from Brussels, one of Europe’s top antique hubs and a centre for textile companies.

Ryan has been running her business for 15 years and her Irish clientele still accounts for 60 per cent of her income with most happy to plan visits around her hectic schedule.

One such client is Thady Nolan, a computer engineer turned publican who enlisted Ryan to fit out his three Ma Nolans bars in Cote d’Azur, two in Nice and one in Cannes.

They don’t seem to be the most obvious locations for Irish bars but these hostelries attract a huge amount of “regulars” who have holiday homes in the vicinity and may visit four times a year, Nolan says.

They were designed to bridge the gap between the traditional zinc bars frequented by older drinkers and the club-style hostelries designed for the under-25s.

“For those aged between 25 and 65 there was nowhere atmospheric to go for a drink,” Nolan explains.

Ma Nolans is now a busy hive with live music. Limerick-based acoustic folk rock band Hermitage Green, whose front man is retired rugby player Barry Murphy (part of the Munster squad that won the 2006 Heineken Cup), is one band that plays there.

Above the Cannes pub, on the third floor, Nolan leased a three-bedroom apartment to house staff. The demand for swish short-term rentals in Cannes convinced Nolan to invest €100,000 in its refurbishment.

Between the two-storey pub (the acts play the ground floor) on the second floor is a dental surgery (where Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger is said to have his pearly whites done) which helps mop up noise.

Nolan also added 25cm of soundproofing to the ceiling and 10cm to the walls of the establishment to ensure a sound night’s sleep for guests.

The apartment, which is in Cannes old town, at the corner of Rue Bivouac Napoléon and Rue Buttura, has views from its French windows of the film festival red-carpet – perfect for star gazing.

The sleek open-plan L-shaped living/kitchen/dining room was originally three separate spaces. Ryan knocked down the dividing walls to make the most of its French windows. She wanted to “respect the light French architecture” but was going for a “fresh and modern” look. By painting it a single colour throughout it has made it feel bigger.

The rattan sofa in the sitting room (€599), the oak-topped dining table with steel frame (€899.90), and metal bar chairs (€89.99) were all sourced from Maison du Monde as was the metal lighting. Curtains for the 2.4m tall windows were bought at La Redoute.

The kitchen was made in Ireland by Waterford-based Bar Fitout Company which also did the Ma Nolan bar as well as Lost Society in Dublin’s Powerscourt Townhouse.

The rental market in Cannes requires a certain amount of flexibility in its accommodation, Ryan explains.

“Many of those coming to the south of France are business clients who want office space as well as accommodation. The bedrooms have been designed to be adaptable. The double beds can be separated into singles, to accommodate colleagues sharing, and the headboards were made to look like wall panelling so that when you remove the bed they are big enough to frame a desk.

Although Nolan doesn’t own the apartment he believes he will get a return on his investment within five years. At peak times, during Cannes Lions for example, one of the many events held at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, where the film festival also takes place, he’s rented the apartment for more than €8,000 a week.

Already he’s had enquiries about hiring the pub and the apartment for private events during next year’s film festival.

The average weekly rate is far less. The three-bedroom apartment sleeps six and costs from €1,000 to €1,800 a week, depending on the season (peak is July and August). ;; ;

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