How to create an interesting looking home? Add a splash of colour.
Carol-Anne Leyden’s Ranelagh house has colourful classics against neutral walls
The Profile sofa, a design by Roche Bobois, has been upholstered in a deep pile Cabaret velvet by Jean Paul Gaultier. Photograph: Emily Quinn
Adding colour in furniture and accessories set against pale white walls is a tried and tested way of giving a home a fresh and interesting look.
The Dublin 6 home of designer Carol-Anne Leyden is a mix of her and her husband’s styles as well as a mélange of stylish pieces gathered from around Ireland and the world.
Unlike so many interior designers’ homes that showcase their look and can sometimes feel more like a brand extension than an actual place to live, Leyden, who runs CA Design on Dunville Avenue in Ranelagh, isn’t afraid to install furniture and furnishings by competitors to layer her home’s look and the space is all the better for this confidence.
It was while working for Denis O’Brien’s Digicel in Honduras that her aunt, interior designer Una Foley, suggested she try interiors and showed her the ropes. Leyden was already dealing with companies in China and saw a gap in the market for replicas of design classics, sourcing them from high-end fabricators there. By supplying copies of 20th-century designer furniture, replicas of Arne Jacobsen’s Egg chair and Ray and Charles Eames DSW fiberglass dining chair with Eiffel tower bases, she established a business supplying companies, developers and private clients.
That side of the business accounted for up to 80 per cent of her income but with changes to the patents legislation pending in Ireland – the legal changes extending the length of copyright given to designers is aimed at ending this brisk trade in copies – she has had to diversify and now sources contemporary designed lighting, furniture and accessories through European-based suppliers like Universal Positivo and its parent company Ethni Craft. The introduction of a range of mid-priced Fabula rugs has further helped extend her offer with these floor coverings now accounting for 20 per cent of the business.
She met her husband, playwright and writer Conall Quinn, at the barbecue the day after her best friend’s wedding where she was bridesmaid. His works include The Death of Harry Leon (2009) which was staged by Ouroboros at Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre and won the Stewart Parker Major Bursary Award.
When the couple first saw the 1870s house in Dublin 6 all the hard refurbishment work had been done with John Fleming Architects having designed a lightfilled extension to the rear. “We fell in love with the house and moved in within a couple of months of first seeing it,” she explains. “It was the only house we viewed which was just as well as I was pregnant at the time, about to get married and my business had really taken off. I loved the idea of doing a home from scratch but didn’t have the time to manage renovation work.”
The pair had first bonded over similar tastes in art and design. Quinn had already made several large home purchases including the pair of art deco style ebonised Sylphide chairs by Duvivier that sit in the living room that he bought from Aidan Cavey long before he met Leyden. But not everything he owned made it to the terraced house that they bought together in 2015. A dining table and high-backed dining chairs didn’t make the cut, laughs Leyden.
The star piece in the living room is the Profile sofa by Roche Bobois, which is upholstered in a deep pile, jewel coloured, Cabaret velvet by Jean Paul Gaultier. Two coffee tables are set between the sofas, one echoing the crossbar shape of the other.
She’s not afraid to mix it up at home. The dining room is a good example of the couple’s ability to layer their art and antiques with contemporary pieces. The table is antique and is surrounded with Eames-style dining chairs, all white save for the bright orange end chair, set there to create a form of punctuation and to bring out the colours of the canvases on the walls.
In one corner is a bookcase that belonged to her family and adjacent to it is Florence, a contemporary accent table with floating glass shelves.
In another corner sits an antique campaign tray table. Fresh flowers by Bloomtown and a ceramic vase from Article Dublin adorn it.
The light-filled extension, which is the width of the house, was in situ and is big enough to have a den area for little Robyn, 1½ years old, where an Ikea sofa and rug soften the tiled floor and give her a glass wall view of the garden and the birdlife therein. Screen panels that take their inspiration from some of Mondrian’s work, can be used to shield the room from the outside.
In the dining area, lit from above by a lantern roof light, is a wire frame base glass-topped table in the manner of Warren Platner. A workstation in another corner houses a steel and oak frame desk and chair stand.
The in-frame grey painted kitchen was also in situ. Leyden added the powder-coated steel pendants over the island. She found these in Industry, on Dublin’s Drury Street. A George Nelson-style clock watches over everything. At the walnut-topped counter sit a row of Cherner-style bar stools with a powder-coated steel fruit bowl adding a splash of colour.
Upstairs on the return sits a marshmallow pink tin storage trunk under lock and key. The treasure chest belongs to daughter Robyn and is not to be opened until her 21st birthday. It has been filled with christening gifts from her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and godparents – sentimental things such as Leyden’s mother’s First Holy Communion missal.
In the family bathroom a period feature stained glass panel window has been beautifully incorporated into the shower stall washing you in blue and yellow light. It is inspired by a stay by the previous owners in The Soho Grand Hotel in New York.
The main bedroom has a velvet upholstered Profile bed, also Roche Bobois with metal frame Monolit side tables by Universal Positivo, available through CA Design, that conceal storage within their oak tops flanking each side.
The house has an easy flow to it, much of which was created by the architect but it is the marriage of colour and texture, contemporary with classics, antiques and art that combine to make this house feel like a real home.
As well as selling a range of furniture and accessories, CA Design offers an interior design consultation that costs €250 and is redeemable against stock.