Neutrality is more than a colour scheme. It is the practical way to live family life
Lisa O’Shea is an interior designer who believes pragmatism is as important as paint colours. The mother of two has realised that what most family homes need is a practical approach; a layout that maximises space, storage solutions and simple, easy-to-keep colour schemes.
What she does is take clients from the house envy they experience while flicking through the pages of interiors magazines, wondering how the people pictured really live, to making a place for everything essential to the everyday running of the home.
This belief system is reflected in her own home, a dormer bungalow in Dublin 18. O’Shea spent seven years managing Mini Peters interiors, and this experience is in evidence everywhere, from the furniture to the muted colour scheme. A natural palette creates a sense of calm, she says, explaining that you can add colour with accessories.
Her house has oiled oak engineered floors throughout, with roof lights to bring in additional light where needed, like in the entrance hall. On the walls she used Colortrend paint – a light tawny grey called Ivory Tusk that is part of their historic luxury matte emulsions range. The woodwork is All White by Farrow and Ball.
In the formal sittingroom a limestone fireplace from Artefaction now has to play second fiddle to underfloor heating. The fire is lit for effect only. The matching two and three-seat sofas by Belfast-based Orior were bought through Minnie Peters years ago and have been recently reupholstered. The lamp table and the fireside table, where the TV usually sits, when the house isn’t being photographed, were both also bought at Minnie Peters.
Slide-back doors open to reveal a diningroom with a round dining table that can seat from six to 15 guests. The dimming, aged brass light overhead can create instant mood lighting.
Newcastle Design did the kitchen. The vaulted ceiling is impressive and the feature window over the kitchen sink allows O’Shea to talk to her guests if they are dining alfresco on the terrace. O’Shea chose limed oak countertops for the breakfast bar and grey siltstone for the surrounding surfaces. She bought the industrial-style, over-counter light in Hicken Lighting.
The TV room is where her sons, Patrick (11), and Mark (nine), bring their friends. While hardwearing, the tobacco brown leather sofas needed updating, so she added cushions with an ethnic motif to freshen up the set up. They also add colour. A wall-mounted gas-effect fire is the room’s focal point.
O’Shea is a fan of TK Maxx in Carrickmines, describing it as “one of the best places to find surprising interior accents”. She came across the long stool that sits in front of the fire there. Next Home is another favourite.
While the house suits her busy family’s needs O’Shea also uses it to show clients around to give them a feel for what she does. O’Shea’s customers want to pay for decorating jobs by the hour or on a room basis, rather than committing to a full house project, she says.
“They want to put their own stamp on their home. But they want help, with colours, to rethink furniture positioning, suggest storage ideas and figure out how best to reconfigure the living space, before they bring in builders. My job is to nudge them along. It’s about finding how functional the house has to be.” O’Shea charges €80 an hour for this service.
See cornerstoneinteriors.ie, tel: 086-238 6621