Pieces of me: Neville Knott, interior designer, broadcaster, lecturer
‘Items that capture memories are above taste and fashion’.
Neville Knott in the drawing room at Carlisle Terrace, Dun Laoghaire. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Neville Knott is an interior designer, broadcaster and lecturer in interior and furniture design at the Dublin Institute of Technology where he has taught since the 1980s. He’s hosted home makeover programmes such as, Beyond the Hall Door, Showhouse and Neville’s Doorstep Challenge for RTÉ and TV3. He ran his own design agency for 12 years, created many well-known retail spaces from Switzers to Superquinn.He is a consultant with Crown Paints and is currently researching a PHD which centres around the theme of boom and bust interiors. He lives in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin with his partner.
Describe your interior style?
It’s evolved throughout the years. Our old apartment was very modern and eclectic but when we bought our Victorian house six years ago, we both decided to fully embrace the style of the era and have very carefully picked every piece for the house – paintings, textiles, furniture, colour pallets, lighting – to reflect that. We initially made the basement area a more modern space, but found we kept migrating up to the very traditionally decorated front room, as it just felt so cosy and calm. We’ve since refurbished downstairs in a more old-school, period style and hang out there a lot more now.
What is your favourite room in the house?
The master bedroom. It has a large south facing window that looks over the back garden and a beautiful fireplace gives it a great focal point with two armchairs each side, often used for lazy morning chats. We kept the old painted floorboards with a large rug to retain the character of the room. But probably the best feature of the room is the old shutters, perfect for an afternoon nap.
Do you collect anything?
I collect old crystal glasses and decanters, from Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian through to the 1920s and after. They are very easy to pick up and look great on display but most importantly they are always used. I would prefer one or two to get broken than sit in a cabinet gathering dust.
Who are your favourite artists?
Francis Bacon would be on the top of my list, I admire the extraordinary use of geometrical forms in his figurative works. From and interior design point of view, his work, in series, making triptychs and diptychs, appeal to my sense of aesthetic. On a local level, I live in Dun Laoghaire, so John Short’s wonderful paintings of the Sandycove bathers or period shopfronts in Glasthule seem to capture a moment in time that reflect the area in a timeless and humorous way.
Where is your favourite place to travel?
I love the small bohemian town of Sitges about 40 minutes outside of Barcelona. The old Art Nouveau Villas at the heart of the town have stunning ornamentation on both the exterior and interior. One of the oldest hotels there, The Romantica, gives a clue to the magic of this location.
If you had €100,000 to spend on the house, what would you do?
We have a small room at the end of the hall, which many people in similar style houses use as a guest bathroom, but we’ve restored the space to its original Victorian use as a serving room for the dining and living rooms. I’d love to get French doors put in and install a Victorian style wrought iron balcony off the back of it, with details to compliment the style of the house and steps leading down the garden from it.
What does home mean to you?
Home is a collection of key items that reflect where I came from and specific moments in my life, for example: my dad’s old grandfather clock in the hall, that keeps perfect time and its tick tock heartbeat lulls anyone who sits near it into a deep silence; the painting I bought one summer at the Boyle Arts festival; the old chairs I loved to play on as a child. For me items that capture memories are above taste and fashion.