Vogue Williams has just put her Howth apartment on the market with plans to trade up to a bigger Irish base in the swish seaside village. Williams bought the apartment, which is located right on the waterfront, back in 2015 straight after her split from ex-Westlifer Bryan McFadden. The Dublin model and tv presenter now lives for the most part in London with her husband Spencer Matthews and their one-year-old son Theodore.
Williams has always felt the pull back to Howth, however, and says she is trying to convince Matthews, a former Made In Chelsea star and brother-in-law to Pippa Middleton, that a full time move to Dublin would be good for their small family. In a recent interview, Williams joked that her campaign to convince Spencer to move to her 'happy place' remains ongoing, but she's not sure how successful it's going to be. One step in that direction is to get a bigger Irish base with more room for little ones.
"Spencer says if Jeremy Corbyn gets in, he'll consider moving," Vogue said laughing. "I wouldn't be very happy if he got in, obviously, but at least it would mean we could move to Howth."
The busy couple have just completed their second series of Spencer And Vogue currently airing on E4. Williams has also just finished a project with the BBC and is the woman behind the popular self-tanner Bare By Vogue. Spencer has turned away from television to go down the entrepreneurial route, and is preparing to launch a new low-or-no alcohol range of drinks.
With all the work and now a one-year-old in tow, it's not surprising they're looking for a bigger place on this side of the pond. The two-bed at Findlater has been used regularly as their pied a terre every time they visit Dublin. It has suited the celebrity couple as it's in a private and secure development right beside Howth Harbour. The apartment is in mint condition and has been upgraded several times over the last four years.
Unlike in other countries where apartments are considered to be by far the coolest home types, in Ireland they are often thought to be blander thanks to their domination of the city rental market and the preferred neutral colour schemes of landlords.
However with her home, Williams shows how small touches here and there, with bold artwork, rich furnishings and colourful tiles, can make a modern Dublin apartment stand out. Instead of a standard Shaker-style kitchen, the apartment features white gloss units of the sort she favours in the couple's London apartment seen on tv.
The home measures almost 800 sq ft with views of Howth Harbour. Located on the second floor of the three storey block, it has an entrance hall, a kitchen, living room / dining area, two bedrooms, (the master is en-suite) and a main bathroom.
There are also lots of lamps around to soften the overhead spot lights. The bathroom has white subway tiles with beautiful lily-pad patterned porcelain tiles from Ca' Pietra in the shower.
Williams' creative eye is something we could all learn from, and Jackie Carton from Carton Interiors (stylemyroom.ie) believes that just because a space is smaller, doesn't mean it has to be bland.
"Apartments are generally more compact than houses, but there are plenty of designer tricks to give the illusion of spaciousness," says Carton. "Choose reflective surfaces, just like Williams did, like gloss kitchen units, polished tiles and glazed or mirrored areas to reflect as much light as possible. "Keep furniture streamlined and neat - think glass table tops rather than solid chunky woods, and sofas raised off the floor on legs with slim arms. A light neutral colour scheme throughout can be emboldened with splashes of colour or pattern, particularly in areas like bathrooms where a decorative floor or wall tile like we see in the Howth apartment is all that's needed to add character."
It doesn't have to cost the earth to add these details. Carton says tactile finishes like luxurious velvet on an item like the sofa will add warmth. A fabric headboard and layers of cushions, throws and rugs ensure a bedroom feels cosy and welcoming.
Most apartments have one open living space, but Carton says there are tricks to make this look like a few different areas.
"The positioning of your furniture is vital here. Usually the kitchen is defined by the units themselves, sometimes with a different type of flooring. Within the living and dining areas, a large rug at the sofas will help this read as one zone, whilst a pendant light over the dining table will ensure it appears as a standalone space."
If you buy a new build with standard kitchen units and tiles that don't really float your boat, Carton says there is a way to disguise them.
"Layer on colours and textures, then personalise the space using your favourite artwork and photos. A plain kitchen can look fantastic with an unusual backsplash and accessories, and it's easy to elevate a standard floor with the addition of a bold, large floor rug. The trick is to draw the eye away from the less interesting areas by focusing it on the colourful or unique items that are special to you."
As for storage, Carton believes this is an area that is worth investing a bit of money in.
"The best advice I can give regarding storage is to go the bespoke route, if possible," she says. "In smaller spaces, every inch counts and having niches shelved out or doors made to suit awkward corners can help hide the unsightly, yet necessary, day to day items such as coats, bags, shoes etc.
"A good carpenter can do this and keeping the front finished flush with the walls and painted the same colour as the wall paint will ensure an invisible finish to those hidden storage areas."
The apartment at Findlater in Howth, Co Dublin, is on the market for €410,000 with Kevin Flanigan Estates (01 8453459).
Apart from Williams' pad, also for sale this week are two other apartments, one in the southside city area and the other in the northside centre of the city, both which show creative and colourful flourishes which elevate them from the masses.
Like William's home in Howth, No4 at 26 St James's Walk in Rialto, Dublin 8, is a fine example of what can be done to make a two-bed living space interesting and beautiful.
It has a floor area of just 796 sq ft that's spread over two floors. The floor-to-ceiling window in the living/dining/kitchen area floods the room with light and provides views down to the communal garden. The vendors have used large mirrors, bright colours and gloss units to bring the living space to life. They invested in a corner sofa rather than trying to squeeze in a full suite.
The underneath of the spiral staircase is an aqua blue colour, making it stand out as a feature in the living room. Up the stairs, there is a double bedroom with ensuite bathroom and a study with fitted units for storage.
No4 is on the market with a guide price of €290,000 through agents Owen Reilly (01 6777100).
Meantime, an 'upstairs downstairs' townhouse apartment at a Georgian terrace in 48 Blessington Street, Dublin 7, has a floor area of 710 sq ft. There are many period features in the townhouse like a cast-iron fireplace, ceiling coving, picture rail and centre rose. The colour scheme throughout compliments these features, as does the newly fitted solid wood kitchen. There are a few special extras included like a built-in wine fridge, a Smeg oven and an integrated fridge-freezer.
It is laid out over two floors of a large Georgian house.
The two bedrooms are on the lower ground floor and have access to a fully-decked private patio.
It is on view tomorrow at 11.30am and is guiding €325,000 through agents Mason Estates (01 8304000).