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Sometimes the hunt for the perfect home involves more of a slog than you’d expect. Joanne Kelly, co-owner of the interior design firm Think Contemporary, reckons she viewed “100 horrible houses” in a gruelling six-week house hunt. Luckily, the 101st house – now her home – ticked enough boxes to become a blank canvas for her designer tendencies. What made the ‘horrible houses’ so
unattractive to Joanne was the fact they needed to be gutted – a major deterrent for a young couple without the spare cash to embark on a major reconstruction. But finally, an end-of-terrace in an estate near Celbridge came up trumps. They liked the house itself and its layout, with three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a good sized, south-facing back garden. It was also a quiet area, facing a large green. “The dominant scheme throughout the house was Bo Peep blue
walls and varnished mahogany, but the ground floor tiling was in a neutral colour and the kitchen units were a simple Shaker style. This was good, because we couldn’t afford a new kitchen. The rest of the decor was easy to change to suit our own taste,” says Joanne.
“My personal style is lots of strong colour – I really do love colour – and an eclectic mix of old and new, classic and budget. We both love artwork and are building up our collection bit by bit. We like quirky, individual pieces.”
True to her visual nature, Joanne had already mocked up the schemes for each room of the house before the couple even moved in. “I had been collecting things I really loved for a couple of years. I based my whole living room scheme around the teal and lime green Nani Masquina rug in the living room. I had picked out everything: paint colours, wallpaper and fabric before we moved, but we actually refurbished the house in stages, as time and money allowed,” she says. “The one disaster I had was the
bedroom, which was redone twice! I had taken a more traditional approach with the decoration, but in the end it just wasn’t me.” The end result of all the hard work is a house that is as individual as it is surprising – the surprise being that a standard suburban house can be fun and funky, and that a house doesn’t need to be gutted and rebuilt to become an interesting, atmospheric home.
At home with Joanne
“I pretty much work six days a week, so Sunday is my chill-out day. I love nothing better than curling up on the couch with Shane and watching movies or a Mad Men box set marathon. Shane does most of the cooking, but when I get the chance I love to bake, whether it’s just a simple sponge or something more adventurous. On finer days, we love to picnic in the garden with a nice wine, lots of different cheeses, humous and crackers. What a way to pass an afternoon.”
“USE DIFFERENT TEXTURES RATHER THAN ALL HARD OR ALL SOFT. IT PAYS TO KEEP LARGER, MORE EXPENSIVE ITEMS NEUTRAL, AND ADD COLOUR WITH ACCESSORIES THAT CAN EASILY BE UPDATED. MIX BUDGET ITEMS WITH UPCYCLED PIECES AND DESIGN CLASSICS TO ADD CLASS TO A ROOM.”