Avril Wilson-rankin and her husband Andrew turned a Dublin warehouse into a unique and stylish home packed with colour, light and warmth
Frustrated by house hunting in Dublin, these newlyweds took a chance on an old coastal warehouse and unearthed its potential as the perfect place to call home
Avril Wilson-rankin cheerfully admits that she and her husband Andrew never intended to buy a warehouse. ‘ We started looking after getting married in 2008, but finding an affordable family home in Dublin was always going to be a challenge,’ she says. The couple began their search with very different priorities. ‘I love older houses with big windows and high ceilings, whereas Andrew prefers homes that are energy-efficient and make for comfortable living,’ says Avril.
The couple also had a fairly tight budget to stick to. ‘ We looked online for months, but everything was unsuitable or just too expensive,’ says Avril. ‘The breakthrough came when we widened our search to include commercial property.’
Shortly afterwards, their current home came onto the market. ‘It was a good-sized warehouse in a great coastal location overlooking Dublin Bay, and perfect for converting into a New York loft-style home,’ says Avril. Buying the warehouse was a leap of faith, however, since the property was being sold without planning permission to be converted into a residential dwelling. ‘ We decided to take the risk, and commissioned Dermot Bannon, a well-known Dublin architect, to help.’
First, the couple thought about how to make the warehouse work to suit their lifestyle. ‘It was a very exciting blank canvas, but also quite daunting, as absolutely anything was possible,’ admits Avril. ‘Andrew and I went through our ideas and worked very closely with our architect to maximise the space. We wanted to keep the ceilings full height in the main living areas to make them feel light and spacious. Andrew, an electronics engineer, planned the heating and lighting, so the space would be well lit, warm and energy-efficient.’
Once planning permission had been granted, the couple chose building contractors D H Kidd. ‘ Working with such passionate and skilled professionals and craftsmen was a wonderfully creative and collaborative experience,’ says Avril.
With the building work complete, it was time to consider the decor. Despite a tight budget, Avril was confident she could create the mix of industrial and vintage style that she and Andrew envisaged. ‘I love visiting flea markets, charity shops and car boot sales, I’m a real bargain hunter,’ she says.
Finding it hard to source the industrial-style furniture they wanted, Andrew and Avril made key pieces, like the metal-framed dining table and beds, themselves. All of this has led to the couple setting up an online design business, Goathouse, which Avril runs in her spare time. ‘Although converting the warehouse was a stressful but exciting adventure, Andrew and I are thrilled with the result,’ says Avril. ‘I can’t imagine us ever moving.’