Tuesday 6 December 2016

Interiors: Art attack

Blanaid Hennessy

Published 26/02/2011 | 05:00

Caroline Quinn's home in Dublin sits in a street lined with period houses, and her one-bed apartment is part of a house built in 1851 by a gentleman called Sir Francis Drake -- though not the explorer! It has a delightfully scattered layout, running from the front door to the second floor to keep as much as possible of the original design.

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The living room boasts two large sash windows which look out over the park and, more importantly, the skyline. Drake built four houses in a row here, and this is the one he lived in. It retains all of the original coving, sash windows, floorboards and even the bell pulls by the marble fireplace to call the servants.

When Caroline, proprietor of vintage store Dirty Fabulous, decided to move from her previous address, she thought it highly unlikely that she would ever be able to buy a large period house, so instead took advantage of what Georgian Dublin had to offer in terms of rental.

Caroline came to view this flat and found it in need of some affection. Luckily, the landlord was willing to allow her to do whatever she liked with the place, so she set about repainting, reflooring, furnishing and adding fixtures to her new home.

She and her partner Peter McCann have created a small dining space and art installation in a nook between the kitchen and the living room. There is lots of wall space, which they filled with paintings.

"I have quite an extensive art collection, so I needed lots of space and a very neutral backdrop," says Caroline. "I like my surroundings to be unique and personal. Most of the art work I have collected has been purchased at exhibitions directly from the artist and I buy only things I absolutely love.

"My favourite style of art is pop surrealism. I'm a big fan of Tara McPherson and Ray Caesar, both US artists.

"I am also an avid collector of paintings by my brother (www.barryquinn.ie), and I have a number of works by Alan Clarke and Dave Comiskey, both Dublin-based artists," she explains.

"My best bargain is a painting of an odd-looking gentleman in a suit standing in a garden. It's dated 1962, and I waited on a very cold day at the Herman Wilkinson auction in Rathmines for six hours, but I got it for €6. It's not for everyone, but it's one of my favourites."

The furniture is equally eclectic: a retro sofa sits alongside an antiquated Chesterfield wingback armchair, and a contemporary bench designed by Peter makes a third seating space. Much of his work is seen throughout the home.

"My absolute favourite item in my house is a beautiful light fitting made with white feathered birds that Peter made for my birthday. I love his work; I bought a couple of products that he had designed without realising they were by him [www.nofixedabode.ie], until he pointed it out!"

So how does Caroline describe her interiors style? "I treat my home like I treat my vintage dresses: I don't think you should keep things hidden away for special occasions. What's the point in having beautiful pieces if you can't use them?"

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