New ventures: Step inside Giles Norman's Kinsale townhouse makeover

Photographer Giles Norman throws open the doors of his Kinsale townhouse which had just undergone a classic makeover to become an uber-tasteful place to stay, writes Rose Martin

Giles Norman’s townhouse has undergone amassive renovation to become a comforably chic place to stay in the heart of Kinsale. It houses thephotographic gallery on the ground floor andaccommodation overhead. The first floor drawing room is the southern office of Ventura Design.

We have some international players quietly plying their trade in south Cork — in particular, Kinsale. Take Giles Norman, for instance, a photographer whose work graces the walls of penthouse in New York to ranch houses in Brazil, but who lives a quiet family life in Oysterhaven with his wife, Catherine and three children.

The couple’s shop in Kinsale is a tourist landmark, but it was also his parent’s home for a number of years, with accommodation overhead and unsurpassed views over the inner and outer harbour.

Now, it’s almost through a comprehensive makeover, thanks to architect, Gareth O’Callaghan of Jack Coughlan and Associates and interior designer, Arlene McIntyre. We’ve featuredArlene’s work previously on the magazine and at the time she hinted about a Cork opening — well, now it’s happening, as the creative forces of both firms combine following the successful makeover of the renamed, GilesNorman Townhouse.

Giles and Catherine have worked with Arlene in the past — she’s used Giles’ work in her commissions and they’ve also supplied images for her New York Penthouse scheme at the Dublin Ideal Homes Show.

They got talking and one thing led to another and Arlene took over theinterior decoration of the townhouse, while Giles and Catherine agreed to the designer’s use of its first floor drawing room as her ‘in town’ office. A meitheal way of doing things — very Irish.

Ventura will officially open its consultation rooms, (how else would you describe a family-style sitting room in the heart of the town), on the evening of October 19 and from then onwards, its appointments all the the way. Arlene and Catherine and Gareth worked together to pull this old house into a working, comfortable and uber-tasteful place to stay. It’s not cool or flash or any of that usual boutique hotel stuff, it’s a classic makeover.

The colour tones throughout the top two floors harmonise in mole to pigeon and back and the punches of contrast are confined to white or dark navy. It’s the quality of fittings that do the talking and in most cases, Ventura provided these as part of the service.

The loft studio has unsurpassed views, though you need to open the loft windows to really get the full panorama. Similar to a two-bed apartment in space, it is dominated by a six-foot bed with towering bedhead in navy pu leather with studded detail. Walls are in Lamp Room Grey by Farrow & Ball and the carpet is Artic Grey. Woodwork is F&B’s All White. Below: The Atlantic bedroom has walls in Mole’s Breath from F&B and other rooms are finished in Lamp Room Grey, again, woodwork is All White.

Arlene McIntyre carries her own line of beds, bed heads, chairs, consoles, side tables and lamps and all of these are used on O’Connell Street, with the occasional Ikea piece.

Linen is white, as might be expected, with toning throws and lush, deep pile carpet sourced in Bandon Co-Op. Bathroom fittings are from Cork Builders Providers and tiles are from the Kinsale Tile Shop. The Normans have kept it local, where possible.

Gareth O’Callaghan had early discussions with the planners and achieved approval to reinstate an older staircase plan which opened up the two upper floors while at the same time coming within fire safety regulations. Win-win.

Linen is white with toning throws and lush, deep pile carpet sourced in Bandon Co-Op. Bathroom fittings are from Cork Builders Providers and tiles from the Kinsale Tile Shop. Exterior facade in Ammonite by F&B with doors and shopfront architrave in Downpipe. Check out and view video online.

And there’s also planning in place for a wraparound, deck at the rear, giving outdoor space to the upper floors and bridging onto the rock face behind.

The shop is downstairs, as always, but a side door leads to the overhead, B&B accommodation with a knock-your-socks off loft studio at the very top. This has unsurpassed views over the harbour, though you need to open the loft windows to really get the full panorama. Inside, there’s the equivalent of a two-bed apartment in space, dominated by a six-foot bed with

towering bedhead in navy pu leather with studded detail. A similar style in used in most of the bedrooms, with varying fabrics. The townhouse is now open for business and the Open Days in October will showcase the finished product.


  • Ventura’s new studio will be staffed and run by its head office in Dublindirectly, and Arlene McIntyre says she’s going to bring a wide range of exclusive Irish made products to the south, by appointment. Ventura and Giles Norman are collaborating on the launch of their separate business operations within the same building on October 19.
  • Catherine and Giles are throwing open the doors of the Townhouse to the public on Friday, October 20 from 10am-6pm and on Saturday from 10am-2pm.
  • Bedrooms: Mole’s Breadth by F& B (dark and enveloping, but warm); Lamp Room Grey by F&B (similar hue, again a warm tone).
  • Studio: Lamp room grey by F& B; ceilings and woodwork: All-white by F&B
  • Exterior facade: Ammonite F&B Doors and Shopfront. Architrave: Downpipe by F&B
  • Bathrooms supplied by Cork Builders Providers; tiles and laminate flooring by Kinsale Tile Store; carpet supplied by Bandon CoOp in Artic grey (Sensations book original)

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