Tuesday 19 March 2019

The White House: Former Google executive transformed this Clontarf cottage into an Instagram hit

The monochrome home design scheme that led to a new self-starter career in interiors

Danielle Dufficy in the kitchen/living area of the Brian Boru Street home. Photo: Bryan Meade
Danielle Dufficy in the kitchen/living area of the Brian Boru Street home. Photo: Bryan Meade
Follow Danielle's interior designs at Daniy_interiors on Instagram
The exterior of the cottage
The master bedroom
The landing
The living room
The patio and shed in the back garden
A bright bathroom
A pathway to the pedestrian rear access
Danielle creating a headboard
An office space underneath the staircase

When interior designer Danielle Dufficy and her husband Martin bought their cottage at 15 Brian Boru Street in Dublin's seaside Clontarf enclave back in 2015, Danielle had been working as an adwords sales executive at Google down on tech-busy Barrow Street.

"It was a great place to work. The people were friendly, the atmosphere was great, the pay and perks were really decent. But after three and a half years there, I just felt it was in me to do something a bit more creative." Unknown to Danielle, the key to her career quest was the very same key to the door of the cute 1930s former Corpo cottage.

"It was in pretty good condition actually, just a little dated here and there. And strangely, given that Martin is a builder, we didn't actually do a lot of structural work. It was all decorative."

Martin left the choice of décor for their new home to his beloved and she got stuck in. Pretty soon Danielle discovered she was really getting into it and shared her ideas online.

Follow Danielle's interior designs at Daniy_interiors on Instagram
Follow Danielle's interior designs at Daniy_interiors on Instagram

"Every time I did something new I posted it on Instagram." And plenty of Instagrammers who found her posts loved the look. As Danielle's Instagram account began building up traffic, bit by bit people began to contact her to ask if she'd do their homes too.

"I started to realise that I really, really love interior design and furnishing. I tackled one project after another. So that's how I became an interior designer full time. I have been asked to prepare Airbnbs, to do up private homes and rentals and I do show houses." The natural thing for Danielle was also to link up with husband Martin's expanding construction business. "Yes, I do all his interiors too."

Back in Brian Boru Street she went for a mix of old and new. "I love to make things as well as to upcycle and to scavenge sales and second-hand shops. I am addicted to collecting fabrics from anywhere I visit. I made the headboard in the master bedroom during the Beast from the East lock in! The breakfast bar stools I found when someone dumped them for free online. So I got them reupholstered. The coffee table I also purchased second hand and retouched it.

"I invested bigger in items like my Andrew Martin cushions - you just can't beat a feather-filled luxurious cushion that you can karate chop!"

Observant readers will note something about Danielle's preferred tones - almost completely monochrome.

"Yes, I do like white and greys. This is also a very practical look that can be changed completely just by altering the accessories and the fabrics. So when I was working on it I thought 'no big investments required down the road, just change the accessories'. If I want colours, I can do it with cushions and fabrics."

The exterior of the cottage
The exterior of the cottage

And while Martin allowed his partner full reign in the cottage at Boru Street, he did put his foot down once.

"He put a stop to me chalk painting stuff after I did the green bin white."

Aside from installing overhead skylights to let in the light, the couple did little else by way of intrusive construction work with the cottage.

Devices deployed by them in the Clontarf cottage to add space without renovation include the stair gallery storage unit which the couple installed in a bedroom. "It's a cottage so the spare bedroom was limited in its footprint as you might expect. There really wasn't a lot, other than a bed and a locker, that you could put in there."

By fitting the narrower yet stylish looking block stairs with shelf storage built in, the Dufficys were able to create a new gallery space above in which to install the guest sleeping arrangements. So not only does the unit add storage while supporting the new rather more exotic sleeping area, but but it also created a dual work station/ vanity unit beneath tucked into one side in the bedroom, thus freeing up even more floor space.

Along the way Danielle developed a penchant for certain outlets. "Mindy Brownes is great for stylish yet affordable items. I do a lot of shopping at Homesense, probably more than anywhere else.

The patio and shed in the back garden
The patio and shed in the back garden

"Of course we've been to Ikea which was great for our taps and bathroom fittings as well as the vanity unit. The bathroom itself we got at Ideal Bathrooms. The tiles are all from Natural Stone and Marble in Drogheda.

"Most of the kitchen came from Kube which is particularly well suited for kitting out a smaller space. They design for tight fits. For example they do great slimline dishwashers.

"And then of course there's Donedeal.ie because older furniture is often made of the best materials, oaks and so on. Just because they're the wrong colour, doesn't mean you can change them. It's not difficult to learn."

Now with Martin building a larger new home for them nearby, as part of a luxury pocket scheme, the Dufficys are selling up through DNG (01-8331802)with a price of €395,000 sought for the property.

The accommodation at 15 Brian Boru Street is set across one floor comprising of entrance porch, two bedrooms, the living and dining room with its 10.5 ft high ceiling, the kitchen and the bathroom with its walk-in wet room shower. To the rear there is a private 27 ft long garden which has also had the 'white out' treatment. This has brightened and neatened the space and makes it appear much larger than it is. The garden has limestone paving, a lawned area and a shed which is plumbed both for washing machine and a wc. The garden is a big advantage for a city cottage as homes like these more usually come with a very tiny yard. It offers room to extend the house further. An added bonus is that there is also pedestrian rear access.

The entrance hallway has a solid walnut floor which also runs into the main living and dining area. There's an open fire and vaulted ceilings with aforementioned skylights overhead.

The high gloss Kube kitchen comes with a Neff oven, Siemens hob, Airforce extractor, Nordmende dishwasher, fridge freezer, combi boiler and skylight.

The attic is carpeted and dust proofed and accessed via a Stira.

"I'm from Mount Prospect Avenue nearby which can be a busy enough road. It's so quiet in here that when we moved in first it was like sleeping in a hotel.

"One thing however, that we didn't get to do - the attic spaces are there to be opened up in both bedrooms by new owners. It's been done already in some of the other houses," says Danielle.

"In many ways I really don't want to leave it because firstly I'm still totally in love with the place but also, this was the house that opened me up to interior design and got me on the path to a new career." The cottage is walking distance from Clontarf Village, the seafront and the famous wooden bridge which leads to Bull Island.

Village coffee houses, eateries, specialist shopping, bars and restaurants are on the doorstep - making the car a luxury rather than a necessity.

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