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Show us how it's done: Show house designers share their secrets

Show house designers are expert at creating spaces we want to live in. How do they do it? Three of the country's top interior designers share their secrets with Fran Power Photos by Ruth Maria Murphy

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The trick is to create a space that looks, as Elaine Jerrard of Elk House Interior Design puts it, “the right side of perfect, and not too hotel-y.''

The trick is to create a space that looks, as Elaine Jerrard of Elk House Interior Design puts it, “the right side of perfect, and not too hotel-y.''

Ruth Maria Murphy

"Artwork is an incredible way to improve a room," says Roisin Lafferty, who loves sourcing pieces for her projects.

"Artwork is an incredible way to improve a room," says Roisin Lafferty, who loves sourcing pieces for her projects.

Ruth Maria Murphy

"With show homes," says Roisin Lafferty, "we are trying to portray a narrative, to tell a story to the visitors and potential buyers.''

"With show homes," says Roisin Lafferty, "we are trying to portray a narrative, to tell a story to the visitors and potential buyers.''

Ruth Maria Murphy

Harmony and balance is something that can be improved by picking the right colour, according to Roisin Lafferty.

Harmony and balance is something that can be improved by picking the right colour, according to Roisin Lafferty.

Ruth Maria Murphy

"We like to layer up multiple textures to provide depth throughout,'' says Roisin Lafferty.

"We like to layer up multiple textures to provide depth throughout,'' says Roisin Lafferty.

Ruth Maria Murphy

The bedroom is the place to roll out the luxury touches.Pare back the furniture but, says Roisin Lafferty, go big on the headboard.

The bedroom is the place to roll out the luxury touches.Pare back the furniture but, says Roisin Lafferty, go big on the headboard.

Ruth Maria Murphy

Roisin Lafferty says: "Sheer curtains offer a translucency to the room and also diffuse natural light, creating a warm and inviting environment.''

Roisin Lafferty says: "Sheer curtains offer a translucency to the room and also diffuse natural light, creating a warm and inviting environment.''

Ruth Maria Murphy

"There are lots of cost effective ways to transform otherwise mundane areas of your home," says Carol-Anne Leyden.

"There are lots of cost effective ways to transform otherwise mundane areas of your home," says Carol-Anne Leyden.

Ruth Maria Murphy

"The same paint colour can look like seven different shades, depending on the light," says Elaine Jerrard.

"The same paint colour can look like seven different shades, depending on the light," says Elaine Jerrard.

Ruth Maria Murphy

"We love designing kids' bedrooms and nurseries," says Carol-Anne Leyden, "it's a room to have fun in.''

"We love designing kids' bedrooms and nurseries," says Carol-Anne Leyden, "it's a room to have fun in.''

Ruth Maria Murphy

Carol-Anne Leyden suggests using rugs to create different zones.

Carol-Anne Leyden suggests using rugs to create different zones.

Ruth Maria Murphy

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The trick is to create a space that looks, as Elaine Jerrard of Elk House Interior Design puts it, “the right side of perfect, and not too hotel-y.''

The show house in a development is the jewel in the crown. Generally last to come to market, it can carry a premium of up to €100,000 extra. Why is that? It's not just the cost of the furniture and fittings, but the design know-how that has delivered a complete look - a home that buyers can imagine themselves living in.

The trick is to create a space that looks, as Elaine Jerrard of Elk House Interior Design puts it, "the right side of perfect, and not too hotel-y. Somewhere you can imagine sitting on the sofa, or putting a cup of tea down on the counter". She has decked out schemes such as Clairville Lodge in Malahide and the soon-to-be launched show unit at Lansdowne Place, and has developed a busy project list of private clients who want her style in their own homes.

Carol-Anne Leyden of CA Design agrees: "I think new builds can often be more difficult than you would think. They are a blank canvas, which is great, but people really want it to feel 'lived in' and homely when they move in so they come to us for advice on how to achieve this effectively in their new homes."