AN ARTFUL MAKEOVER
Aine Curran and her husband bought the house of their dreams in 2000, but waited until they found the right architect to translate their ideas into the perfect home. Edited by Mary O’Sullivan. Photography by Tony Gavin
Though it only hit our shores last autumn, is a word with which we’ve all somehow become familiar. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s hard to pronounce and we enjoy trying it out. Or maybe it’s because it’s a Danish word and we love everything Nordic — their TV shows, their restaurants, their jumpers — so why not translates as a feeling of cosiness, and maybe our embracing of this funny word is because it’s something many of us were in danger of losing sight of when it came to tarting up our own homes, and this concept came as a timely reminder.
Aine Curran, who lives in a beautifully designed and decorated house in south Co Dublin, is very familiar with having lived in Denmark in the early days of her marriage. And there’s no doubt that those two years informed the way she and her husband Peter renovated their house in recent times — it is beautiful, yet ‘cosy’ and ‘easy to live in’ are also words that spring to mind on a tour of the house.
“It’s funny to see all those books coming out now about I
hygge hygge? Hygge hygge. hygge,
remember the Danes trying to explain it to me; it was the biggest compliment anyone could pay your house to say it was Aine notes, adding “Danish people have a very different attitude to doing up their houses to us. They tend to meet in each other’s houses; even students would have each other over to dinner, and even people in their 20s would be very houseproud. Their queen is a graphic designer; they really value design, it’s massive there. We were invited to all the neighbours’ houses, and they would have a story about each piece of furniture; so much thought was put into each thing. ‘We were 12 years looking for this rug’ or ‘This chair was so difficult to come by’. They are lovely people, really.”
However the Danish experience isn’t the only reason why Aine’s home is so interesting yet cosy; both Aine and her husband, Peter Robbins, are extremely creative, and it’s apparent in their colour schemes, their choice of furnishings and the many pieces of art hanging on their walls. Peter, who studied marketing followed by a PhD in innovation, is head of the department of Design
Innovation in Maynooth, and teaches creativity right across the campus from undergraduates to PhDs. Aine studied fine art printmaking in NCAD and has been teaching art in the art department of Our Lady’s College, Greenhills in Drogheda, for the last 25 years. She has also begun to do etchings again in recent years. “I love teaching. I don’t know if I could work on my own all the time, as most full-time artists do. I love working with people, specially creative people. We’ve a big art department, and a lot of our students go on to do art at third level,” the engaging brunette notes.
Aine and Peter, who both hail from Blackrock, Co Dublin, have known each other since their teens, but didn’t get together until their late 20s. They have two children Sophie (18) and Will (16). Apart from their sojourn in Denmark, they’ve mainly lived in south Co Dublin, and have been in their house since 2000; their first house was around the corner. “We used to look at this house and say to each other, ‘Wouldn’t you love to live there?’” Aine notes, adding, “We could see it from our house. It was bigger than ours; it was in a cul-de-sac; it was on a corner site; you could park in the drive — all the things we didn’t have.”
When they got the opportunity to buy it, they jumped at it, and have loved it ever since. “The houses were built in 1939. There’s a lovely mix of people on the road: students, young families and people in their 90s who’ve been here since the houses were built,” Aine notes.
The downside was the house had hardly been changed since 1939, so Aine and Peter did a bit of renovation in 2005, adding a kitchen and playroom, though the main changes were to the garden. Diarmuid Gavin designed it, and his planting is still thriving — a particular delight is the row of tall Tilia lime trees. “Diarmuid called the Tilia trees our ‘hedge in the sky’, as when the leaves are
‘Diarmuid called them our “hedge in the sky”, as when the leaves are in bloom, they prevent us from being overlooked’