Less ‘lad pad’, more city smart - docklands home is taken to a new level

Before placing this D2 rooftop apartment on the market, the owner called in interior designer Natasha Rocca Devine to give it a clean new look

“When clients look to sell properties nowadays, most ask for a pricing, marketing and staging strategy,” says estate agent Owen Reilly, whose eponymous Dublin agency has recently sold apartments to buyers who’ve never set foot in them, and who’ve purchased based on the online video tour alone. Reilly believes property staging is well worth the investment as it helps buyers mentally move in. According to the National Association of Realtors in the US, an investment of between 1 per cent and 3 per cent of the asking price into staging typically yields more than 6 per cent above the asking price. Moreover, staged homes spend a shorter amount of time on the market, up to 73 per cent less in some cases.

So, what exactly does staging involve? Irish interior designer Natasha Rocca Devine, aka The Interiors NRD, having worked in staging in LA, explains the process is quite a logical at first, with a splash of creativity throw in after. Having recently returned to Dublin, she has just completed a staging project of a three-bedroom penthouse at 20 Hanover Riverside, Grand Canal Dock, which Owen Reilly placed on the market this week, asking €950,000.

“This is a great space, with stunning views across the River Liffey and Dockland’s skyline but it was just looking a bit tired and rather lad-pad like,” says Rocca Devine. The staging began with a big clear out – all the lazy boy recliners and giant kitchen table were removed as she felt they wouldn’t appeal to today’s corporate buyer and were also taking up too much floor space.

Painted white

Then almost everything was painted white in the 125 sq m apartment, including all the oak window frames and doors and skirting downstairs as the same colour palette gives a more modern, clean finish. 3D mirrors from Amara were hung throughout to bounce light around corners and to reflect the river views, and a few select pieces of art from The Dublin Gallery were added to break up the white backdrop.


The bedrooms were smartened up with new linen sets and throws from White & Green; Eilen Gray replica side tables replaced the dated wooden bedside lockers; and simple black lighting pendants from Ikea completed the look.

The kitchen remained largely unchanged bar fresh paintwork and covetable cookware artfully placed to suggest lobster thermidor will be the nightly norm for the new owner. For the dining area, Rocca Devine had an old poker table resprayed and the chairs reupholstered, and a vintage dresser from Mart Collective shipped in from LA to give this room a touch of Mad Men glamour. Upstairs, the lounge area was updated with a modern grey couch and floor lamps from Harvey Norman, replete with a well-stocked drinks trolley, suggesting there are plenty of cocktails to be sipped on the terrace.

After a deep cleaning of the entire apartment, Devine then went back and added the last few finishing touches – from scented candles, to luxury travel tomes and even a few fun accessories from Penneys. The finished result is a very calm, light-filled space, which now looks fantastic in photos and should appeal to corporates and urban families alike.

Natasha Rocha Devine’s top tips for refreshing a property for sale

Imagine the client: Decide on the optimum client you would like to buy or rent the property, and stage the space based on their lifestyle needs and aspirations, within your budget constraints.

Choose the unique selling point: And work from there. Keep it simple. If there is a superb view, invest in drawing attention to the windows – take down old curtains/blinds, repaint the frames, add mirrors opposite them, or a decorative point of interest to draw your eye to them etc. Or if there is a beautiful garden, or balcony, ensure the planting and greenery is well kept and add new bulbs or planting, so it remains at an optimum sellable or rental value.

Map it out: Sketch up the floor plans of the space and/or take photographs of each room and garden. Use this to mark out where new and existing furniture can be placed and create a list of what is missing to complete the stage.

Clean, clean, clean: Above all, budget for cleaners before and after staging. Book a good professional cleaning crew as well as carpet cleaners, window cleaners, steam cleaners for upholstery and possibly even a furniture respray to restore older pieces of furniture. Also, so many people overlook a good airing. Air out the property for as long as possible to ensure odours don't linger, and choose nice high-end candles to assist this.

Paint: Invest in a re-paint of the entire space. Or if your budget does not permit this, choose key areas such as doors and window frames to emphasize key structural features.

Style the beds: Adding good crisp linen sets, layered with a textured throw and a few cushions elevates a bedroom no end. I currently love Irish brand White & Green. You can always reclaim the linen for your own home after the sale/rental as it's not usually included in the deal. Be sure to steam the duvet cover and pillow cases, so they're crease free and photograph better.

Invest in old and new: Most interior designers use a mix of new and vintage furniture and accessories. Older pieces can be sourced for very little and can be resprayed to add some unique style into your space and newer pieces can be found for reasonable prices from the likes of Zara Home, TK Maxx or Harvey Norman. Alternatively, opt to rent furniture.