Nautical 1990s ‘Love Boat’ home gets a cool new look
An in-house bar, snooker room and ballroom made this D15 home feel like a party cruise ship. Interior designer Arlene McIntyre came to the rescue, giving it a family-friendly makeover
Interior designer Arlene McIntyre revamped a large property in Castleknock, Co Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/ The Irish Times
“The previous owner of this house, was clearly a fan of the TV show The Love Boat,” says Arlene McIntyre, of Ventura Design, the interiors firm tasked with transforming a 10,000 sq ft Dublin home last December.
“When we first arrived here, it was a little like walking into a cruise ship, with sloping ceilings, suspended mezzanine levels, teak wood panelling and brass trim everywhere. Not to mention the hand-painted frescoes all over the ceilings and walls, the pink marble bathrooms and the blue carpets,” says McIntyre of the small mansion, which was geared towards serious entertaining. There was a built in bar, a snooker room, a swimming pool, jacuzzis inside and out, a ballroom like space and a sunken sofa area, with TVs suspended from the ceilings.
The 1990s house has a timeless design, McIntyre feels, and plenty of good points with loads of light pouring in and well-proportioned rooms but it was all very dated.
The new owners, who have a large young family, were seeking a much more subdued interior, one which was conducive to small children and despite the cavernous spaces, would feel cosy and relaxed. They gave McIntyre free rein on the design. The only specific stipulations came directly from the kids, who each presented the Ventura team with a Pinterest mood board for ideas they wanted to implement in their bedrooms.
“We worked together with Ample Construction and presented the new owners with a full CGI mock-up of how the interiors would look, with literally every last element covered from the couches to the door hooks before we s much as painted a wall swatch. It’s a brilliant tool to help communicate your ideas visually,” says McIntyre.
One of the biggest undertakings of the project was updating the main stairwell. The original swirly brass balustrade was carefully removed in small sections, so as not to destroy the marble steps, and replaced with simpler wrought iron design finished in a matte mushroom shade. The stairs and landings were carpeted in a wide, deep-pile greige runner and the hall floor was retiled in Carrera tiles, both from Design Emporium. Upstairs in the landings, the wood panelled walls were painted in a smoke grey tone (from Ventura’s in-house range). The beading and dado rails were retrofitted for a more contemporary finish.
When it came to the the expansive living and dining areas, McIntrye, stayed true to the original layout and, apart from plastering over the pink marble pillars, and addressing the floor levels.
“The architect had built in a sunken semi-circular seating area, which was a lovely design feature but it was so low in the ground it made watching TV very uncomfortable, so we simply raised the floor but mirrored the old sofa shape with a new one made by our team. The shape works a treat and it has lots of room for all the kids to sprawl out on it, plus it helps to subtly zone off that area too.” A pallette of soft amethyst and stone shades, mixed with light grey upholstery, mixed metals and lots of mirrors was used to add texture and warmth while keeping the atmosphere airy and the vibe contemporary.
Cinema rooms are becoming more usual in large houses, claims McIntrye, “It’s real American thing but it’s a trend that has filtered over here and I often get asked to design them. With this room, which boasts proper surround sound, and a projector movie screen, we simply had to tone down the décor and added two large couches, as they’re more family-friendly than the individual lazy boys that are normally found in a home cinema setup.”
Kitchen designer Keith Finlay was drafted in to make over the once head-to-toe cherrywood kitchen. The goal was to give it some personal style and refinement while also making it a practical space for the family. Floor-to-ceiling, flush wood cabinets painted in a nuanced taupe were built in to give a seamless look, while a large wooden plinth now wraps around the island to make for a more family-centric breakfast bar. The kitchen rather spectacularly overlooks the indoor swimming pool at the other side of the courtyard, which the Ventura team gave a calm spa-like upgrade too by completely retiling and replacing the artworks on the walls with mirrors and some striking planting.
All of the bathrooms and en-suites were gutted entirely and masses of pink and grey marble slabs were replaced with clean Carrera marble large-scale tiles, (from Design Emporium )and built-in vanity units make for a streamline finish.
The main bedroom was the ultimate ode to cruise ship chic, says McIntyre, who stripped away the wooden wall cladding and went all out with layers of soft grey to create a calm, cocoon-like space. “We painted all architraves white, which gives a nice clean contrast and just kept adding more textures in the same tonal greys.”
Did they keep anything belonging to the previous owners? McIntyre thinks for a while and replies, “Oh yes, we kept the beer taps, there was a full on working bar already in situ, so there was no need to replace that.” Of course, what self-respecting cruise ship would be complete without one?
Throughout the house, curtain and upholstery fabrics are from Mark Alexandra and Zoffany ranges. All of the furniture was made in the Ventura workshops, while all of the paint, accessories and soft furnishings are from Ventura’s retail arm too. All flooring, stone and bathroom tiles are from Design Emporium, Deansgrange, Co Dublin. www.ventura.ie