Super Garden judge's Ranelagh home is kind of blue

In her Ranelagh home, designer and Super Garden judge Róisín Lafferty sings the blues, riffing every smoky shade from sky to midnight


Róisín Lafferty is a name you can expect to hear more of. The 28-year old interior architect is one of the three judges on RTÉ's Super Garden, a reality TV show where contestants are given €5,000 to makeover a garden with the winning design being shown at Bloom in the Park.

She lives with her boyfriend in a two-storey over basement period redbrick in Ranelagh, a property that belongs to his parents. They were her first client when she returned from studying for a masters in London’s Kingston College. While they were hoping she’d suggest a superficial makeover, Lafferty seized the opportunity to push the boat out and suggested a complete rethink, recommending they open up the dark basement to make it the property’s star attraction. Her then business partner, Susanna Kingston, helped draft the plans.

This required digging down to remove tonnes of soil from the back garden, all of which had to be transported out through the house in wheelbarrow loads – a task that was both time consuming and expensive. The boundary walls then had to be reinforced to hold up the protected structure.

Lafferty stepped the back garden to create sheltered areas where the north-facing space could get the sun. She left the concrete rendered walls bare, preferring to add colour through clever paint choices. “Colour enriches life and helps make the outside look warm even on grey days,” she explains. Lafferty is a colour consultant with Cuprinol and she chose widely from its Garden Shades range. She opted for a palette of blues, from cool smoky hues through shades such as cornflower that verge on violet, through to sea-green pigments to jazz up the atmosphere outside. For pattern and texture she added encaustic tiles in the eating area and yellow salvaged brick and lavender-looking slate.

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The table in the the outdoor eating area is made from two Ikea trestles painted a dark grey. An old door acts as the tabletop. A stainless steel bench has been given a fresh paint job and the tractor seats, found at Mac’s Salvage, off the South Circular Road, add a fun feel. Lafferty takes the outdoor room concept to a new level by hanging an exterior painting. The canvas and frame were pre-coated with weather-shield varnish by Becky Russell of By Becky Design who used Polyfilla to give the piece texture. The finished work was given a coat of spray-on waterproofing, the kind Lafferty uses to coat her tent when she attends music festivals.

Each tier of the garden is lit to add mood lighting “that you could look out at and enjoy, even on the days the weather plays havoc with the Irish summer”.

Inside, the house is a mix of antiques, salvage and designer buys. “The house had so much character I wanted an eclectic feel rather than something traditional,” she says.

The dirty work paid off. The dark basement has been transformed into a large L-shaped kitchen, living/dining room, with a conservatory washing the space with painterly northern light. In the diningroom a white lacquered extendible table, bought from made.com, is teamed with Calligaris chairs. Antiques add a woody warmth that is miles from being boring brown furniture. She repurposed one side table to house a host of potted plants.

The living room sings a medley of blues. A Ligne Roset ottoman chair is a favourite with her two cats, Harry and Amelie. A Derive rocking chair, in French navy is by the same Gallic furniture company. A leather swivel Nuage chair in indigo-coloured leather complete the three-piece band of seats. A spiral staircase, found at Macs Salvage, and painted using Hammerite blue takes you upstairs to the original part of the house.

The kitchen has hard-wearing Sillstone countertops, bespoke cabinetry designed to mask uneven walls and are mirror backed to reflect light into the relatively dark space. On the wall opposite, stacks of tins are points of interest. A series of antique and contemporary plates add a decorative touch. Panels of salvaged leaded glasswere picked up in Paris.

In the windowless bathroom she used mirrors to reflect light into the space. The room has a decadent freestanding clawfoot bath purchased from the Victorian Salvage Company. She found the bust and stone base in Deck Clad, another salvage yard in on the Naas Road in Dublin. Hand-made tiles in soft sage add a wash of colour to the monochrome tiled floor. These were sourced from TileStyle.

Upstairs, the hall is floored with larger format Victorian-style encaustic tiles. Off it the formal sitting room is painted a restful pistachio green and features a Chesterfield-style sofa, bought from UK-based Designer Sofas 4 U, as well as a butterfly collection and other vintage market finds. Super Garden is on RTÉ One on Thursdays at 8.30pm. The final takes place on June 5th. See bybeckydesign.com, kingstonllafferty.com