Sunday 4 December 2016

Styling is child's play

Blanaid Hennessy discovers that babies and elegant design can share a home

Published 29/01/2011 | 05:00

Tara and baby Dylan, whose rocking horse belonged to dad Andrew when he was a child
Tara and baby Dylan, whose rocking horse belonged to dad Andrew when he was a child

It's not always easy to mix children and their accessories with stylish living. However, actress Tara Leniston and her fiancé Andrew Fowler have managed to create a space that accommodates everything their 11-month-old son Dylan needs, yet it remains perfectly elegant.

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In their home, Ikea tables sit alongside Helen Turkington chaises, while Andrew's handmade coffee table anchors the living room. It is, as Tara says, "a mix of modern contemporary living, yet also cosy."

Tara found the home online, but when she first viewed it, it wasn't exactly love at first sight. It was somewhat unkempt and the garden was completely overgrown. She was also more a fan of old period houses, and this was a modern, slightly Scandinavian-style house.

Despite all of the initial doubts, she still fell in love with the property and set about transforming it with the help of Andrew's undeniable DIY skills.

It was the light that swayed Tara: "It's really bright and airy and has loads of storage space, which is definitely needed with a baby. I love our living room because of the floor-to-ceiling windows; it's so bright, even on a dull day."

But Tara and Andrew have retained antique family pieces and her favourite piece is her parents' old bureau. "They bought it when I was very young from a contents sale of an old house. They restored it and it's been in every house I've lived in. I've lived in around 25 homes, so it has definitely built up a lot of history and sentimental value to me.

"Andrew hates it, though, because it's really heavy and hard to move, and every time it needs to me moved I'm guaranteed to be shouting: 'Be careful, don't scratch it!'"

Baby Dylan's high chair was Andrew's great-grandfather's and has been used by every generation since. Dylan's red rocking horse is also a childhood toy of Andrew's, now on its own journey through the generations.

Tara enjoys creating this mixed style. She has picked up things on her travels and added to them with home-found items, such as her €2 cushions from TK Maxx. She finds inspiration from trips, counting Paris as her favourite, and from browsing through stores.

Comfort is also important to her: she loves the 'shabby chic' look with big soft furnishings, soft colours and splashes of colour here and there. However, shabby chic does not include clutter. "While I do love places that are full of colour and fun and interesting things, I have slight OCD when it comes to my house. I really like it to be clean and tidy."

While her eventual dream home is a Georgian house in the country, for now Tara is content spending time in her favourite room -- Dylan's. "I spent a lot of time making that perfect for him. I just love sneaking in there at night to watch him sleep."

Follow Tara Leniston and Dylan's adventures at www.jetsettingbaby.blogspot.com

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