Building a portfolio when starting out as an interior designer isn't always easy, so for Jean Hughes, the obvious place to start was her own home. In the past two years, No106 Home Farm Road in Drumcondra has undergone a complete makeover under her watchful eye and the results have been outstanding.
When she bought the house with her late husband Dave nearly 20 years ago, there was a tired, old kitchen extension on the back that they couldn't wait to knock down. In 2005, Tyler Owens Architects came in and designed a new brighter version for them, with timber panelling on the exterior and extra large roof lights on the top.
Two years ago, Hughes decided it was time to put her interior design skills to use and mix it up a bit. Out came the old units and in came the kitchen of her dreams from Newcastle Design. "It was so expensive, but it was worth every penny," she says. "I just love it. The extension is nearly a square box, so I really wanted to bring the two sides together and make it a bit more cohesive, which is where the idea for the seating area came from."
Floor-to-ceiling units have been built around a seating area on one side of the extension, with an extendable dining table from Calligaris. On the other side are the rest of the handmade units that are painted in Farrow And Ball's Railings, with a silestone worktop from Miller Brothers. There is a large pantry and an island big enough to seat four people. Kitchen appliances are built in and include two Neff ovens and a Bosch five-ring induction hob with an antique mirror splashback behind.
"The beauty of the kitchen is that it can be changed as fashion and taste changes," Hughes points out. "It can be repainted any colour and cushions on the bench seating can be re-upholstered. The last kitchen I had was high gloss and there was nothing I could do with it when I grew out of that look."
During lockdown, Hughes also had the whole house repainted in Farrow And Ball colours. The hall is kept bright with Benjamin Moore and she went with Downpipe in the sitting room as it's north-facing, so she wanted to keep it warm and cosy. This is her quiet place, where she grabs a book, lights the gas fire and has some time away from the kids.
The house had underfloor heating and the living room at the back of the extension has a stove that heats up the whole back of the house. As well as a new kitchen, Hughes also got a new roof on the main house and a new flat roof on the extension.
Triple-glazed windows from Munster Joinery have been installed throughout the house and the front garden has been landscaped. At the back, a new paved area was built, so it would be large enough to take a decent-sized patio set, while ensuring there was enough lawn left for the kids to play on. The panelling on the back of the extension has also just been revarnished.
Upstairs, all of the bedrooms are freshly painted. The bathroom has been completely redone with a new Grohe power shower with rainwater head installed. Panelling was put up and painted in Farrow And Ball's Hague Blue and huge marble-effect tiles that Hughes found in Donegal are used on the rest of the walls and floor. This project was a dream come true for Hughes, who is clearly passionate about all things interior.
"I love quality, but I also like mixing it up a bit. Like the blanket on the couch is from McNutt of Donegal, but the duvet cover on the bed in the kids' room is from Penneys. I'm also a TK Maxx queen," she says. "The light fittings in the kitchen are from Hicken Lighting, and the other fittings and shades around the house are from EZ Living and TK Maxx."
Home Farm Road is popular with young families thanks to the schools in the area. Corpus Christi Girls' National School is across the road from the house. St Patrick's Boys' school is five minutes down the road, and Dominican College and Ardscoil Rís secondary schools are on neighbouring Griffith Avenue.
Drumcondra Village has come a long way in the last few years when it comes to options for eating out (or takeaway during Covid). The arrival of places like Restaurant 104, Shouk, Casa del Toro and San Sab has meant that locals no longer need to travel the long three kilometres into the city centre for a decent feed.
Hughes enjoyed the project so much, she has since bought a property in Donegal and moved up with her children Isabel and Oliver.
"There's nothing that's normal anymore, so I thought, why not follow it through and see how we get on. We moved up at the start of the pandemic and have been here since. It's been great. I loved doing up both houses and I'm happy with how they've turned out. It's all given me so much joy."
Viewings are strictly by appointment through Kelly Bradshaw Dalton (01) 8040500.