Irish sisters make over a Brussels apartment

By Jimmy Loughran 20-01-2011

When Irish-born Maura Clune bought a 1930s apartment in Brussels that needed a complete makeover, who better to rise to the challenge than her interior designer sister, Aine. Together they highlighted the beautiful original features of the apartment, filling it with light and lots of fabulous 20th century design classics.

Living room:

Believe it or not, this bright and bold painting behind the sofa is from Ikea. The armchairs were an antique shop find from Ghent in Belgium, re-upholstered in jade velvet by Aine’s ‘upholstery guy’, who proved to be quite an asset over the course of the project. Yet again, bargainous high street pieces meet investment designer items as these antique lamps, one from the 1907s and the other from the 1940s, sit comfortably on coffee tables from Ikea.

A touch of Dublin is added, with cushions on the couch brought over from Debenhams. Overall, the pared back look is infused with enough design touches to add distinction yet sufficient restraint to ensure it remains homely.

Dining room:

This apartment with its high ceilings and vast windows was the perfect blank canvas for showing off Maura’s fine collection of 20th century furniture. White was used throughout to maximise the light and sense of space. The overall look that Maura was aiming for was a home that was comfortable but still looks good, without going overboard on design-led items. “I’m trying to avoid filling it up with furniture” she says.

The height of the ceilings allow her to make the most of the available wallspace by extending shelving to a high level. Her ability to mix and match is shown here as the Ikea shelves sit in perfect harmony with the original leather Fritz Hansen dining chairs in the dining room. The glass dining table came from Au Bon Repos in Brussels, and the outsized lampshade was made to order.


The original kitchen was a built in monstrosity that simply had to go. The design for the kitchen was limited by its shape, and so Aine adhered to a clean modern colour scheme, using mainly white with a green tiled splashback. The bright contemporary look is complemented perfectly by stainless steel fittings and a retro wall clock adds personality.


Aine created a softer, more romantic and feminine look in Maura’s bedroom. The bed is an antique find that was re-upholstered in silver, and elegantly framed on the walll behind by a neat panel of wallpaper by Barbara Hulinaki for Habitat, which determined the overall colour scheme in the room. A light elegance is added with a Louis Ghost chair and lamps by Kartell, as well as reproductions of the classic Eileen Gray table.

The same grey on the wall is also used in the second bedroom; a soft shade that adds warmth while still maintaining the light feel. This bedroom is pared down a little in comparison to the master bedroom, though it benefits from the comfort of sheets by Helen McAlinden for Foxford.


When Maura set out to overhaul her new apartment she began with the bathroom, which was in particularly bad shape. Aine wasn’t around at that stage, so she started the decoration plans herself by visiting lots of tile shops. Her aim was to hide the heater with glass bricks, so that was the initial focus.

Aine, however, is quite a fan of the heater; she thinks that they give it the look of a New York apartment, and so she chose to highlight it in silver paint and make a feature of it. They give the bathroom a very funky look, bringing another dimension to the classic look of the white tiles and the tonal green mosaic tiles.

Tell us what you think:

Which is your favourite room in this suave apartment? Tell us in a comment!

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