A cottage by the sea
August 9, 2016
I received great feedback from my image of the rocking chair in my last blog post so I decided to share more photos from the Minnie Peters completed design project. It was the restoration of a fishermans cottage in Connemara by the sea, in the beautiful West of Ireland.
When I initially met with my client about her project in Connemara I had a moments hesitation regarding the eight hour round trip from Dublin by car, but as soon as my client showed me the photos of the cute cottage and the magnificent view from it, I was sold hook, line and sinker!
Connemara is such an amazing place- I always feel like I am in God’s Country as soon as you reach it and see the breathtaking mountains and coastline, your body naturally relaxes and you feel yourself begin to breath slower as the pace of life in the West is a lot less hectic than in Dublin. You also need to lighten your right foot and drive slower, as around any corner on the road you could meet a flock of sheep out for a walk. All of the Irish postcards with sheep strolling along the roads are exactly what you will find here.
For centuries people lived off the sea by fishing off the coast in Connemara as the land was very barren so it is sprinkled with many fishing villages. Just outside one of those quaint villages is where our cottage by the sea is positioned and right on the waters edge, however, the cute little cottage was about to go through a full restoration and extension.
As with all of our projects for the room planning I took into consideration how our clients wanted to live in their home. As this was going to be their holiday home and Irish weather being what it is I wanted their home to be bright and cool in the summer months and cosy and warm in the winter months. I designed the rooms so our clients could get the maximum out of the view by opening up the front of the house into an open plan kitchen, dining and living area with weathered oak floor boards and Kilkenny limestone countertops from Miller Brothers stone. I took out the attic space and added some bleached beams with a panelled ceiling which gave the living areas a feeling of space.
As soon as the project started I began to source antique pieces as I always like to mix old and new into my designs. To complement the chunky French oak (extending) dining table in a decape finish, I sourced a pair of French antique Os de Mouton dining chairs. I had the chairs restored and re-upholstered in a delicate check with plum and khaki tones on the back panels and trimmed the edges with bronze studs. For the seat pads I added a durable faded plum linen, protection from little sticky hands or runaway food. I then paired the two antique Os de Mouton’s with two large antiqued leather armchairs designed with exposed wooden frames. By adding big comfortable armchairs around the dining table I felt they would get more use as they were perfectly positioned in front of the Dutch style front door, and once the top half of the door is opened it gives you a perfect vista of the amazing sea and landscape. It is so close to the sea you can hear the waves lapping onto the rocks.
Furniture is so important in the finishing of a home and planning what each area will be used for is important to decide before selections are made. Selecting bold pieces that make an impact in a room, while adding comfort is so important, like a good handbag you will always love it and never tire.
Throughout the living areas I selected some of the summer and winter tones from the surrounding countryside which was a collection of greys, greens, lilacs, plums, camels and rust while keeping in mind that our clients wanted the décor to also be practical for holiday living.
As in almost all of our design projects there is a drama as to where the TV will go. We needed to maximize the seating area with sofas, the double-sided fireplace took up one wall and the window the other. I decided to fit the TV into a bespoke cupboard as our clients wanted it to disappear and only be seen if needed, so I designed a French style cupboard, simple in style with folding doors and lots of storage above and below the TV. The furniture needed to be casual yet robust, so I added a metal framed coffee table with an antiqued oak top, a weathered oak Belgian wine tilt-top table for a lamp and accessories and a thick camel coloured wool rug to the floor for added comfort.
As the kitchen design was incorporated into the open plan living space, and had a limited space, the design needed to maximize on storage but also be subtle enough to fade into the overall design. One of the requests from our client was for a large fridge, so I added a 900mm wide Sub-Zero fridge freezer. Blue limestone countertops were crisp against the Farrow & Ball Pavilion Gray bespoke kitchen units. An antique bench was placed by the window, so the cook could take a break and enjoy the scenery at any time.
When designing the kitchen I struggled between practicality and aesthetics as I didn’t want it to feel like a big fitted kitchen, so eventually I decided to design a big old-fashioned freestanding larder cupboard that would store all of their dinnerware and dry goods. I worked with one of my French companies and designed it with an aged painted and waxed finish. Again I had to be practical with the bar stool fabric colour so I brought some of the tones from the dining and living area through to the kitchen with the deep rust coloured upholstery.
I broke the use of wood flooring throughout by specifying large blue limestone slabs in the ‘link’ section of the house. The ‘link’ was the area where there was access to the back garden, the front of the house, the utility room and the family room, so practical planning of flooring was important. Water sports equipment, laundry, sand and mucky wellies would cross this area so beautiful durable stone slabs worked best. I chose a finish on the oak boards that complimented the stone.
In the family room we again chose child-proof colours on the large sofa daybed, with a collection of cushions and linen curtains. In keeping with the surroundings we sourced a faded linen fabric for the ottoman with a sheep pattern for a bit of fun!
In the bedrooms I mixed light camel tones with soft khaki greens. The wardrobes were bespoke freestanding pieces with a handpainted finish and Belgian ironmongery. I added some antique pieces of furniture to give the bedrooms a sense of character with a country cottage ambiance.
I had great fun designing the childrens bedrooms by paneling the walls and ceilings and white washing them, with secret storage drawers and open shelves in the eves of the roof space ready for their toy and book invasion. We finished the room with a chalky lavender linen fabric on the beds with a wool camel carpet.
Although this picture is not to the quality I like as the sun was beaming in, I felt I had to include it anyway as I think it gives you the exact picture of why I called this blog post ‘A cottage by the sea’! I hope you enjoyed it as they were fantastic clients to work for and I am sure they will have many happy memories in this house. One of the perks of the design business is creating happy homes like this fisherman’s cottage…
Miriam (aka Minnie)