Fashion designer Áine McDonnell's home

By Jimmy Loughran

Fashion designer Áine McDonnell turned her keen eye to a thoroughly neglected house early 19th century on the coast of South Dublin and really managed to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. She and her partner resurrected the ruin of an old house and turned it into a home that combines the spirit of its past with some more modern touches.

Now it’s a space that oozes style, with a very individual aesthetic that she loves so much that she decided to base her studio there.

(Words: Eimear Nic an Bhaird Photos: Paul Sherwood)


Part of the great success of this house is the way in which ornate, traditional style pieces work so well alongside more modern touches and it still all combines to create a cosy and comfortable home. The detailed console in the hallway sits nicely on the practical tiled floor, and leads nicely to the snug, warm blue carpet on the stairs

Living areas:

Despite the grandeur of the early 19th century home, it’s still homely and inviting. The gorgeous original fireplaces are a really special feature, and despite finding the house in tatters, Áine and her partner were lucky to inherit the fireplaces intact.

With the luxury of having a decent amount of space at her disposal, Áine can accessorise her home with lots of fashion-inspired pieces. The walls are adorned with dresses and there are mannequins here and there showing off Áine’s work. This wire homage to Áine’s craft is a piece called South Wind by Susan B Cuffe.

Drawing room:

Áine felt that the house was extremely conducive to her work as a fashion designer, and this former drawing room makes the perfect studio. Now her clients can come and relax and have a cup of tea in the elegant yet homely atmosphere while Áine works her magic designing the perfect dress.

She was very particular about her timber flooring and put down a cheap and cheerful substitute until the perfect smoked oak boards, from the Hardwood Flooring Company in Sandyford, eventually caught her eye. The diaphanous curtains draped elegantly around the luxuriously large window complement the chocolatey wall, and are in keeping with the effortless style of the accessories in the room like the pretty chandelier and the grand mirror above the fireplace

Dining room:

The spacious kitchen and dining area makes it ideal for all occasions. Simply pottering about or eating at the breakfast bar is perfect for casual, day to day use. The dining space is conveniently located so that when Áine has guests she can prepare meals without neglecting her guests, and all that she needs is close to hand.

The impressive marble table is a bespoke piece that was designed and created by Graham Turley; the low dipping pendant lights give an intimate feel. The Cole & Son wallpaper that Áine spotted in London was being saved for the perfect spot, and it works beautifully here, creating an unusual and unique look


The kitchen strikes the perfect balance between traditional and modern. Áine isn’t too keen on going over the top with traditional style, though at the same time she is conscious of needing to decorate in a way that is sympathetic to the design of the house.

The white metro tiles are a modern touch that is still sufficiently unobtrusive to work in the old house, and they are warmed up nicely by the chocolate brown counter tops.


This is an excellent example of how wallpaper can work really well in a bathroom is the room is well ventilated. The Cole & Son print gives a pretty, old fashioned charm to the room, and makes it look really individual, particularly alongside the painted white wood panelling below it

Tell us what you think:

What is your favourite part of Áine's elegant home? Tell us in a comment!

Share This Article


You May Also Like