Lorraine Keane: ‘My bathrooms are a bit Celtic Tiger’

Pieces of me: The broadcaster bought her Victorian home 13 years ago

Lorraine Keane at home in Monkstown. Photograph: Alan Betson

Lorraine Keane at home in Monkstown. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Keane and her husband, musician Peter Devlin, bought their Victorian home 13 years ago when it was divided into flats and Keane was eight months pregnant. They gutted it, preserving original features and pulled out eight kitchenettes, shower rooms, partition walls and false ceilings. Keane, who is not afraid of the “fixer-upper” having renovated three previous homes, designed the house entirely, making the most of its beautiful period features. “This was my easiest house to do because it’s got its own bone structure.” They live there with their daughters Emelia (12) and Romy (9) and their dogs Slipper and Chip.

Lorraine Keane’s dogs Slipper and Chip in the lounge. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times
Lorraine Keane’s dogs Slipper and Chip in the lounge. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Describe your interiors style
It’s a bit like my wardrobe, eclectic and a total mix. I often joke that I dress myself from the feet up because shoes are my favourite thing. I decide on the shoes and that’s when I decide what to put with it. And with this house, although it’s an old period house, there are still quite a few modern and contemporary twists to it and I love that, mixing old with new. To mix it means that you can create something that’s very personal to your own style and loves and passions. This house is very homely, it is very lived in. Even though we have cream carpets and cream furniture, everything is washable. I always swore that, although I love nice things and I’m a bit of a tidy freak, I still want the family, myself and people that visit to relax here.

Which rooms do you most enjoy in the house?
My favourite room is my walk-in wardrobe, it just puts a smile on my face. I think it’s because I’ve collected so many things over the years, everything has a story and a memory for me and it’s also a really happy place for the girls and their friends, I let them go in and play there. I love the chandelier and the lovely view from the bay window, we have fun in that room.

I love the kitchen and breakfast room because of the light and space and the high ceilings. I really need natural light in my life. I love the way the sun rises on one side of the house in that room and sets on the other so you always have light.

Lorraine Keane’s home in Monkstown. Photograph: Alan Betson
Lorraine Keane’s home in Monkstown. Photograph: Alan Betson

What items do you love most in the house, and why?
I love the high ceilings, the cornicing and the fireplaces, the staircase, all the original features. Not so much the original oak floors which we restored as I have ruined too many precious heels on them. With these old houses, it’s constant, there is always something. You have to be really into it and passionate about it, which we are, we don’t mind the upkeep. I love the gilded birdcage, it was designed and made for me by Paola Creations, an Italian artist based in France who works with Murano glass. I knew I need to put something in that corner that was quirky and fun.

One of my favourite paintings of all time is in the hallway, The Headless Woman by Edwin Doris, it’s a satirical piece and I think, today, its message is even stronger. I inherited it from an extremely close family friend whom I called Tante Lizzie, Elizabeth Ravaud. I met this painting for the first time when I was 17 in her Paris apartment. She was a broadcaster with the BBC so I was infatuated with her. She became a mentor to me and a huge influence, she passed away far too soon. She would say that I was her protégé but would quickly follow it by saying she meant it in the French sense of “protected one”.

The Headless Woman by Edwin Doris. Photograph: Alan Betson
The Headless Woman by Edwin Doris. Photograph: Alan Betson

Who are your favourite designers and do you own any of their pieces?
I love Minnie Peters’ aesthetic and attention to detail. I have some of her lamps and a couch in my bedroom. Her style is like New England meets Epoque, casual and classic, which I adore. She picked the colour of my walls for me in the kitchen breakfast room. I love the old-fashioned and traditional style too. I have tons of magazines upstairs on period properties. I love Farrow and Ball.

What would you save from a fire? Children, animals and husband first. I’d fire my shoes out the window upstairs and I’d save The Headless Woman.

Do you collect anything?
I collect cookbooks. The ones in the kitchen are the ones I would pick up regularly, there are tons more upstairs and I also collect coffee table books. I’m a very keen cook and love throwing dinner parties and entertaining. I put a lot of time and thoughts into the kitchen design, I love it.

The walk-in wardrobe. Photograph: Alan Betson
The walk-in wardrobe. Photograph: Alan Betson

Which artists do you most admire?
Graham Knuttel is one of my favourite artists and one of my favourite people. Rasher is another artist I adore, I have a couple of his pieces, like Ruby Slippers, in the kitchen. Deborah Donnelly is another favourite, I love The Nosey Cow which is also in the kitchen. I also love Edwin Doris, Barrie Cooke and Guggi. I genuinely love to support Irish artists, not because they’re Irish but because they’re actually brilliant.

The Nosey Cow by Deborah Donnelly. Photograph: Alan Betson
The Nosey Cow by Deborah Donnelly. Photograph: Alan Betson

What is your biggest interiors turn-off?
Woodchip. This house was covered from head to toe in not one, not two, but five layers of woodchip. And that spiky plastering that was on ceilings, it brings back nightmares.

Ruby Slippers painting by Rasher. Photograph: Alan Betson
Ruby Slippers painting by Rasher. Photograph: Alan Betson

What is your favourite travel destination and why?
France, because of the food, the wine, the vineyards, the way of life and the aesthetic. We would go south of Provence on holidays so it’s very in the countryside and very laid back. It’s a lovely place to go on holiday. I’m not sure if I could live there because I don’t think there’s enough craic there. My favourite city is Paris, I love the buzz of cities as well. I think there is a French influence in my style in the house.

Painting by Graham Knuttel. Photograph: Alan Betson
Painting by Graham Knuttel. Photograph: Alan Betson

If you had €100,000 to spend on interiors what would you spend it on?
I would give Emilia her own bedroom because at the moment she shares a bedroom with her sister. I’d definitely do the back garden. I’d change the décor in bathrooms, they are me at a time and place when I got really over excited about the house, they’re a bit Celtic Tiger for me, I got carried away.

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