Driving along the scenic route to Lahinch in Co Clare is spectacular, from the Burren to Corkscrew Hill and on past the Cliffs of Mohair, before arriving in this beautiful seaside village. Lahinch has bundles to offer from golf to surfing, great places to eat as well as impressive views.
It was no surprise then to discover that Lahinch has become the perfect place to have a family holiday home. Moira Cunningham, from Red Barn Interiors was commissioned to give a three-bedroom semi detached house that special something. The house itself is very close to the beach, convenient for surfing as well as the local eateries. Taking into consideration the family’s needs, budget and taste, Moira planned everything down to the last detail.
The door to the house was open as I pulled into the driveway to be greeted by Moira, who was just putting the final touches in place. On entering the house I was instantly hit by the amount of space Moira had created within the down stairs area. The hallway, tiled in warm terracotta and cream marble runs through to the kitchen area, continuing into the utility and the downstairs bathroom. This continuity of flooring creates a wonderful flow throughout the house. Not to mention it is also low maintenance, which is of particular importance, especially if it is a holiday home.
The kitchen has a real feel of being the ‘hub of the house’, with a solid oak breakfast bar in the centre, allowing for cosy intimate coffees, while the kitchen area is a beautiful marrying of function and form. Moira’s taste is impeccable, as is her practical layout of the kitchen area. The kitchen has glass splash backs with floating units running the full length of the wall. Cleverly these units have internal down lighters creating ambient lighting in the kitchen at night time. On the far side there is a spacious dining table with beige suede covered chairs. The table is oak veneered. The over all colour scheme performs very well together with creams and neutral fabrics highlighted by warm oak wood combined with some stainless steel features. A modern double fridge completes the look.
Once in the kitchen though you can’t but help notice the back garden area. Detailed planning has always been Moira’s motto, “if you invest in a great design then you can have it implemented by someone else”, which is precisely what Moira did. Hiring a garden expert in the form of Mark Grehan. He designed this practical low maintenance garden, which flows from the sliding doors in the kitchen area, creating the feeling of a further space that friends and family can spill into and enjoy. The sandstone slabs in this split-level garden are juxtaposed with black wooden sleepers while the bedding plants are various shades of purple. The fences too are in black charcoal giving this garden a modern sharp contemporary look. And again most importantly low maintenance. Another detail to take note of is, by getting an expert to design your garden there will be no costly mistakes in choosing the wrong planting for your beds, particularly in a costal area.
The down stairs toilet can be accessed through either the kitchen or an outside door to the utility, here Moira, attention to detail works impeccably, silver framed frosted glass units are contrasted with crisp white and cerise pink towels.
Which leads us back into the kitchen, double doors open up into a cosy living area where again the attention to detail is revealed throughout. Moira has chosen a solid oak floor here, “Solid wood is always worth investing in, particularly in a living area, not only does it make the area look spacious and modern, but it can be re-sanded and re-varnished to bring it back to new”, this is a tip Moira uses when she designs for buy to let houses and apartments, “you can economise and buy the best”.
Moira flows the neutral scheme into this room, combining chocolate brown leather couches with a cream ottoman, which is so soft it has to be touched to be believed. The fireplace is cream with a matching over mantel mirror that blends effortlessly into the space without dominating the area. A television unit with plenty of space for storage is again practical and functional. Side lamps, occasional tables and soft furnishings complete the look.
Wood blinds run throughout the house in a refreshing shade of alabaster further complimenting the neutral scheme, while in the bathroom Moira choose wooden composite blinds of the same colour that look exactly alike but are 50% vinyl and more suited to moisture laden areas. Graber blinds, which are the best selling blinds in the States, are available in Red Barn. Moira completes the window dressing in the living area with richly textured curtains from the Malabar fabric range.
An interesting note at this point is, that because Moira was involved with the client from the initial planning stages of the house this gave her an opportunity to change aspects of the layout. Originally the house was designed with a wall between the kitchen and living area, by choosing to open the space up and using doors with small panels of glass, the spaces flows gently into each other, while maintaining separate areas for performing different tasks.
Moving on into the hallway Moira uses a sisal natural fibered rug, which is hardwearing, on the stairs. The vertical lines in the design lead your eye up the stairs towards the bedrooms. Here again Moira has run the same flooring throughout, varnished floorboards, again with no saddle boards breaking the flow into each room.
The main bedroom leads first off the landing, a beautiful shade of Harvest Tan by Colour Trend features on the accent wall carrying the neutral scheme through from downstairs. Matching bed and wardrobe with sumptuous cushions and embossed bedding fabric, which you feel you could sink into, complete the look. Another interesting tip here is that the wardrobe doors slide as opposed to swing open allowing for more space in the room when the wardrobe is in use. The ensuite off the main bedroom is again kept neutral.
Following down the landing we come to another spacious room in a refreshing shade of blue. Full-length sliding glass doors allow a haze of warm sunlight to filter into the room, making everything feel so peaceful. Here again full-length wood blinds in alabaster are used, which allow for privacy if they are tilted, while also filtering in as much sun as you want. Here Moira has made excellent use of space by choosing bunk beds with a double at the bottom and a single at the top. Great for sleepovers or for extra visitors. The room is completed with a functional desk and drawer units.
Finally, we reach the last bedroom, which is a wonderful mix of blue and pink. The bedroom furniture is white with floating shelves to maintain the feeling of space, while allowing any clutter to be stored. Occasional lamps, one particularly pretty one, which is solid white when switched off and reflects an embossed pattern when the light is on, combine with a French styled Provencal quilt pulls the entire design together. Another tip Moira gives me here, is instead of using a double bed, if you do need an extra occasional bed, sliding one under the single bed makes for a great use of space.
The final detail, proving Moira thinks of everything needed for a great design, is she had a power shower added to the bathroom and an electric one to the ensuite which works off a quick recovery cylinder (35 gallons) in the hot press. This allows the water to be reheated after one shower in ten minutes as opposed to three quarters of an hour in the case of a (27 gallon) cylinder. An absolute must if surfing is high on the family agenda.
Moira pulls the entire look together with the use of some wonderful framed prints through the house. All of the accessories, soft furnishings and window treatments are available from Red Barn, Middle Street, Galway. They also have a great website to browse through and can facilitate online shopping at www.redbarninteriors.com.
Moira quotes from the Hotel guru Donald Trump himself when she tells me, “God is in the details”, and attention to detail is definitely Moira’s gift.
Published UR Dream Home
Words by Tina O Rourke