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Interiors: Canvas for life

At 25, Katie Tsouros must be one of Ireland's youngest art-gallery owners. She is the director and curator of KTcontemporary, a gallery space that she set up in Donnybrook last November.

Katie's Dublin home very much reflects her choice of career. Her renovated townhouse is a wonderful example of how to create a space for modern art that also succeeds in retaining its period features.

The line between home and minimalist art gallery blurs most in the living room. Everything about the room is unobtrusive: white walls, bare floors, very little furniture and -- one of my favourite tips to create the illusion of space -- no curtains. Instead, you'll still find the original shutters, which tuck away neatly.

The house is not without its features though: the art provides bright splashes of colour and becomes the main focus, while a few quirky objects that Katie and her mother have bought each other, along with pieces of art and architecture and design books, add a very personal touch.

How do you create such a tidy yet detailed look? The key is in the planning: "I suppose we don't buy too much 'stuff' very often. All of the furniture is very much thought out and planned -- good, investment pieces which we've had for quite a long time now," she says.

So, where do they find well-considered pieces? "Our coffee tables, television units, bookshelves, drinks cabinet and fish tank are made by a Belgian carpenter who is based in Meath, Jan Watte, and are finished with a very shiny white-car lacquer.

"The couches are by Rolf Benz (www.rolf-benz.com) and we have a gorgeous cherrywood kitchen table made by John Kelly. Other than that, I would say we impulsively pick up anything that is pink, furry, fluffy or leopard print! I just got some cushions on sale at Foxford interiors on Drury Street for €15 along with two new side tables on sale in O'Hagan's in Donnybrook."

And the best bargain in her home? "My Ikea bed -- I don't know what the world did before Ikea!"

Collecting art is obviously important to Katie, but not just for her new gallery -- it's equally important to her to continue the collection for the house, too.

"Our art comes through Rubicon, Kerlin, Green on Red and Kevin Kavanagh galleries in Dublin and from various galleries in London and across Europe and in the States. We go to a lot of art fairs too, as it's a great way to see galleries from all over the world in one place at one time and buy from student shows."

Katie finds that living in a space filled with this collection is incredibly inspirational, and loves it when others feel the same when they visit the home.

"One of my gallery artists, Ralph Hunter-Menzies, came to the house recently for the first time and said that he got more inspiration in half an hour in our home than he ever has in any museum, which is just lovely to hear because really a lot of work has gone into it. And I think part of my job now is to show people that you can live very easily with contemporary art; it can be very fulfilling and a lot of fun."

Katie also has a huge appreciation for architecture and design, particularly the work of architect Mies Van der Rohe. "One of the most fascinating museums in the world has to be the Kunstmuseen in Krefeld, outside Dusseldorf in Germany. It's an original Mies van der Rohe-designed home; there are two next to each other on a very innocuous residential street, and it works amazingly as a contemporary art museum," she says.

"It's a beautiful building; neither the design nor the functionality are compromised and you can really picture how somebody lived there."

Katie's love of Mies Van der Rohe is evident in the minimal styling of her home, but she is still a fan of comfort and colour too. "You can bring that into your home in many different ways -- not just through curtains and soft furnishings. You have to be comfortable in your home, but I don't think you have to compromise how it looks to achieve that," she explains.

"I don't think people like the term minimalism because they think it is cold and uncomfortable, but I couldn't live any other way. It's not extreme minimalism, but I like to just have what I need around me and for everything else to be hidden."

Katie's dream home would be somewhere hot, on a beach, all glass, no clutter, filled with art, views of the sea from every angle, and, if money were no object, she would create a library, all perfectly alphabetically organised, with Klimt's 'The Kiss' on the wall and an original Barcelona chair to sit on.

KT Contemporary, 25-27 Donnybrook Rd, D4. Tel: 01-283 9469; www.ktcontemporary.com

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