House Tour: Claire's perfectly styled fixer-upper Portobello townhouse

By Aoife Valentine Secor 17-10-2018

We say ‘life imitates art’, and in the case of photographer, Claire Brown’s home, that’s a wonderful thing. Her Portobello townhouse is just like the art she creates; dreamy, romantic with just the right amount of edge

Words Louise Dockery| Photography Studio Brown

As a wedding photographer, Claire Brown of Studio Brown’s style is a testament to her eye for detail and capturing not just a look, but a feeling. And her home, which she bought as a fixer-upper, benefits from this skill.

Why buy an old property? “I was always drawn to older houses with character, and fell in love with the period features here, especially the sitting room, the high ceilings, fireplace, and sash windows. There’s a lot of personality and layers in an older home.” It fit perfectly with her interior style, which she describes as “a little industrial chic with a feminine edge”.

HALLWAY The painted original brickwork gives the hallway character and texture without being too heavy. Regular plastered walls are decorated with an assortment of framed prints and photographs

STORAGE The vintage aqua locker came from Turner and Cox and is a handy spot for everyday storage.

This look didn’t come about without getting her hands dirty though. “One of the biggest challenges was exposing the original brickwork in the hallway. About a tonne of plaster and mortar was knocked off the wall and carried out to a skip bag. We did all if it ourselves. You can imagine how horrendous the dust was!” Another amazing feature, Claire was able to uncover, were the original floorboards.

The room that Claire says required the most work was the kitchen, which she fitted with IKEA cabinetry and wallpapered in a reclaimed timber-lookalike pattern from Rockett St. George. Complete with open shelving accessorised with knick-knacks from trendy stores, Dust and Urban Outfitters, the kitchen has a cool, Scandi feel to it. Cosy, but clean and airy.

LIVING ROOM This little corner of the living room is ultimate shelfie goals! Here Claire displays some of her graphic design work, photography and even her collection of Sylvanian Family bears, which were gifted to her by her boyfriend.

BAR CART The brass bar cart was a Done Deal find which Claire stands in front of a chalkboard to create a cool, industrial look.

Claire has chosen a few Ikea pieces throughout the house, but they’re juxtaposed beside more rustic, vintage finds. Many of the pieces in Claire’s home were bargain finds, proving you don’t need a massive budget to achieve a beautiful look. “I love how accessible interior decorating is now.”

When it comes to putting it all together, Claire’s top tip is to “decorate with thought, and not over-clutter. Styling, so there’s balance and that items complement each other well. Knowing what colours you’re attracted to and work well together. I’ve nothing against the colour red, but there simply is no red in the house, as it doesn’t work well with everything else.”

KITCHEN The kitchen cabinetry and worktops all came from Ikea and are contrasted with the more ornate velvet dining chairs.

Knowing when to splurge is also one of Claire’s homemaking pointers. For this project, it was the stunning cream Chesterfield sofa; a timeless style that will no doubt see Claire well into the future. Aside from the aesthetics, quality and comfort on such a high-traffic piece are not where you want to skimp.

When it comes to décor and smaller pieces of furniture, Claire’s knack for finding the diamond in the rough has served her well. She found the vintage trunk, she uses as a coffee table, on eBay and a regal marble-topped brass table for only €30 at the Dublin Flea Market. On top of each piece of furniture lives some beautiful pieces of décor and sentimental memorabilia. A keen traveller, Claire has collected odds and ends from around the world, which she displays alongside her most-treasured travel snaps. When home in Dublin, local Irish brands April & the Bear and Industry & Co. are some of Claire’s favourite spots to pick up gorgeous industrial décor.

BEDROOM The open shelf/ brass rail combo was built by Claire’s boyfriend based off a design she found online.

HOME OFFICE The Liatorp desk from Ikea is where Claire does all of her editing. The ampersand print above it is from Industry & Co.

When asked what her favourite thing about her home is, Claire says that material-wise, the pictures from her travels are what trigger happy memories from places she’s been. And for the present, Claire claims that the positive feedback from Airbnb guests, she hosts, gives her a great sense of satisfaction. With lodgings this sweet, we can see why.


This real home originally featured in our November/December 2016 issue.

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