At home with Billy Peat: ‘I’m happy to play vinyl on an old record player’

Pieces of Me: Managing director of Bang & Olufsen Ireland describes his Sutton home

 Billy Peat at his family home in Sutton. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Billy Peat at his family home in Sutton. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

Billy Peat, managing director of Bang & Olufsen Ireland, is no stranger to the world of home technologies as his great-grandfather WB Peat founded the famous Peats of Parnell Street in 1932. When Billy Peat left school, he trained as an electronics technician and worked in the family business for 12 years.

In the 1980s he began a backyard enterprise, repairing and renting televisions, which took off and meant he could work from home while his three children were small. In 1999, he secured the Irish franchise for the Bang & Olufsen brand, building up a chain of four stores in Ireland. He continues to run one store in Donnybrook. Peat lives in Sutton with his wife, Colette.

Chesterfield chair at Billy Peat’s family home. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
Chesterfield chair at Billy Peat’s family home. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Describe your interiors style

Our house was built in the 1920s so we let the era guide our hand. The original rooms to the front of the house are mainly furnished with Art Deco furniture with some technology hidden in between, we knocked the two front rooms into one and converted one of the fireplaces into a display cabinet with mirrors and glassware for that Savoy Hotel touch. On the flip side, we’ve added a big extension out back which is very modern and works well for the large get-togethers we have every Sunday. I’m one of 11 siblings and we’ve three grown children and grandchildren, so above all, our interiors choices are family-oriented.

Which room do you most enjoy and why?

It’s a fifty/fifty split: in winter, we hang out in the front room, which has a big open fire and looks out onto the sea. We bunker down on the old chesterfield couches, with a glass of wine in hand, dinner in the lap and watch the waves roll over to Howth Head. Then by summer we live entirely out the back. We’ve a big deck off the kitchen and a patio and outdoor cook area at the end of the garden. My wife Collette is a keen gardener and has made it a gorgeous space to unwind in.

Glass mirrored cabinet in a former fireplace in Billy Peat’s home. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Glass mirrored cabinet in a former fireplace in Billy Peat’s home. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Who is your favourite artist?

I love Andy Warhol but alas don’t own any of his work – too rich for my blood. Otherwise I am big fan of Irish painter Geraldine O’Neill. I managed to acquire a special view she did of Dublin city centre from the top of Liberty Hall. In fact all our paintings, which Colette and I have been collecting since we got married, seem to depict a famous Dublin street or landmarks, but we also have a few of Bernadette Madden’s batiks too, just to throw a curveball into the mix.

What’s your favourite travel destination?

We’re literally just in the door from Toronto as my son lives over there. He’s working for the Ireland Park Foundation and it’s made me appreciate just how strong the Irish connection is with Canada. We mostly assume the Irish all went to New York during the Famine but in fact thousands and thousands of us went to Canada. We swamped them and they took great care of us. Now they are doing so again now (not to the same extent) with all the young Irish over there, who went seeking work in the recession. I can understand the attraction, it’s such a young, active, positive city, right on the lake and the skyline beats Manhattan any day.

Geraldine O’Neill painting at Billy Peat’s home. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
Geraldine O’Neill painting at Billy Peat’s home. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Do you collect anything?

I’m music mad and listen to tunes all day in work and pretty much every evening when I’m at home. I’ve over 7,000 CDs and 850 vinyls and wireless speakers and systems all over the house. However, people assume I would be a snob about music quality and the machines you use to play albums on but I’m happy to play vinyl on an old record player. We have modern turntables in the shop from Project but I’m happy hearing music through any medium really.

What is your favourite gadget?

It has to be my iPhone. I’m on it 24/7 and use every app going. Being connected across all of my devices whether it’s my phone, iPad or laptop, allows me to stay on top of my workload, lists and calendar events.

Audio/visual equipment at Billy Peat’s family home. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
Audio/visual equipment at Billy Peat’s family home. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Any advice for staying organised and tidy?

Embrace technology. I use apps for everything – Spotify and TuneIn for all my music and news, Netflix for all my movies and box sets. We’re testing out this new Voice Control domestic system for the shop, where you can just walk in the door and say, oven on to 180 degrees, fire on, blinds down. It’s James Bond stuff but it’s where the future is going.

What does home mean to you?

Quite simply, our home is really just a collection of everything we love. We’ve lived here for 15 years and it’s grown with our family. Home for me is pure contentment.