As she set out to restore a 19th-century carriage house, Ethna Dorman wanted the style of her dwelling to reflect the journey of her life. That voyage has now brought her to a winning destination as Ethna took home the sought-after Home of the Year title on grand finale of RTE's 2020 series tonight.
When Ethna’s husband, William, passed away she converted the residence, which also includes a hayloft and is set in a courtyard in County Dublin, into her own retirement sanctuary.
Ethna restored the building and created a partly open-plan living room and kitchen, separated by the old stable wall screens and retained the original wainscoting. She lowered the floor upstairs in the hayloft to give enough room for the bedrooms and bathrooms.
Most of the furniture in the house was made by her husband, William. She says: “I wanted the style of my home to reflect the journey of my life. My home is a peaceful sanctuary and I am very proud of the way it has turned out. I feel very honoured that my home has made it to the final of Home of the Year.”
Her memories are everywhere in the residence, and a desk is located in a favourite spot: “My husband, when we met — when we were courting — took me on a tour of his house and showed me this desk and told me he made it himself. If I had any doubts before that they vanished. He made all of the furniture in the kitchen. He was very handy.”
Judges Peter Crowley, Deirdre Whelan and Hugh Wallace visited 21 homes over the eight-week series.
“The standard is extraordinarily high. Had I known beforehand I am not sure I would be in the competition all,” says Ethna.
But Ethna’s home was 'a clear winner', according to Hugh Wallace: “For me, this is sheer magic."
Ethna ensured it is “full of character, with lots of personality”, adds Deirdre Whelan, while her approach to conservation was praised by Peter Crowley.
Ethna revealed that the kitchen was once where the two horses resided so she retained a stable theme in its décor and the living room also reflects the fact that this space is where carriages were kept in years gone by.
Ethna’s residence was among seven finalists — including two from Cork — which made it through to the grand finale.
The Cork finalists were Loic Dehaye's family home on the Ballinlough Road, Cork, and the lighthouse keeper’s cottage in Youghal owned by Saoirse Fitzgerald.