Seaside setting inspires vibrant home interiors makeover 

We consult interior designer Emily Cunnane of InSpace on how she gave a period residence in Sandymount a refresh 
Seaside setting inspires vibrant home interiors makeover 

The interiors at the Sandymount residence by Emily Cunnane, InSpacehouse. Pictures: DeUrbanic

Its seaside location inspired the breezy beach colour palette in this recently revamped family home.

Just as we all outgrow our wardrobes, the thoughtful owners of the four-bed period residence in Sandymount wanted to treat it to a style refresh.

Enter interior designer Emily Cunnane, creative director of InSpace, and building contractor John Eiffe Building & Renovations.

“My brief was to update the existing home that hadn’t been given attention since the kids were smaller,” says Emily of InSpace.

Emily Cunnane. Picture: Juliana Schodeler
Emily Cunnane. Picture: Juliana Schodeler

“The home needed a unified look and palette — contemporary but still to speak to the older bones of the original home.

The kitchen. Picture: DeUrbanic 
The kitchen. Picture: DeUrbanic 

“The kitchen, utility, garage and downstairs WC all also needed to be ripped out and re-imagined as none of the spaces were utilised fully.

“Essentially, the job was a ‘gut’ in the extended area and a renovation in the original home to include new bathrooms, kitchen and all fixtures and finishes as well as layouts.”

When Emily arrived, what did she notice about the interiors set-up? “It was a little tired with no cohesive look and the layout did not work,” she says.

So, she roamed around with the owners and they brainstormed, taking their cues from the setting, and how the outside informed the inside. “We took the colour palette from the surroundings — greens and blues — influenced by the seaside location and beautiful back garden,” says Emily.

“The tile pattern in the kitchen was chosen to link in with the original home. The wood was chosen to be restful.

The kitchen. Picture: DeUrbanic
The kitchen. Picture: DeUrbanic

“As with all of my designs though, despite the brief being for a restful, calm space, we wanted to inject some fun and colour into it, so this is where the splashes of red came in.

“The layout was given careful consideration to make it much more functional.”

The renovation of the ground floor of this period property involved modernising the extended living space whilst being sensitive to the features of the original home, adds the designer.

“The overall colour palette was chosen to be restful and classic, with bursts of spirited reds and patterns to give the home a vibrant feel.”

Everything in the design was customised from the beautiful upholstery to the sophisticated joinery, according to Emily. “We also worked with Wicklow furniture maker Bear Creation on a custom kitchen table design,” she says.

“The goal was to have a table that was moveable should it be needed, yet feel part of the island.

"We designed an arch cut-out at the end of the table to allow a view to the raspberry red shelving installed at the end of the island.”

Now that the project is complete, as Emily wafts from room to room, does she have a favourite spot?

“My favourite space is probably sitting at the kitchen table — a lot of work went into lighting, comfy chairs, the bespoke design of the beautiful table, and the cut-out to store the recipe books,” she says.

“You could theoretically perch there, flick through the books, and grab your wine from the wine fridge embedded into the island using the wine glasses on display behind the specially requested smoky glass cabinets.”

And the family of four and their dog is more than happy with the results.

Does the designer have any advice for other homeowners embarking on a similar project?

“Make sure to work on the functionality first — you would not believe how much joy can come from a well-organised and functional space!” she says.

“And do not forget the lighting! It’s key in spaces like this — you can change the use and feeling of a larger space or divide it into smaller sections just with the flick of a switch. We always design layered lighting plans to achieve this.”

The project took around three months to design and another three months to execute, and as for what makes it all work? “There are three major elements in this build that make it successful,” says Emily.

“Lighting, or layered lighting; and we also put a lot of time into sourcing the fittings.

“Curiosa is a handmade glass company whose work we chose for the dining room. We thought that the original features in this room deserved an art piece as a light!

“Spark & Bell lamps are used in the kitchen with pressed recycled plastics set upon natural oak and walnut bases.

“Joinery: We spent a lot of time on the joinery in the whole home — every single element was customised to how the clients live.

“Also, the table — we designed this with Bear Creation. The clients wanted to be able to move it around if needed but also for it to feel part of the island. We added the arch at the end so you could see through to the red section of the island, and echoed the same shape on the island door.

“Custom soft furnishing - — you can see the different patterns and textures we’ve woven into the design in all of the different rooms.”

Tiling is another key element. “We created the ‘tile rug’ under the table to ‘root’ the table to the space. Then we used the same feature tile as a frame around the living area just off the kitchen,” says Emily. “The terrazzo tile was chosen to echo the pebbles on Sandymount beach which is just a few minutes away.”

  • Emily, from Celbridge, Co Kildare, started her company InSpace in Dublin in 2018, focusing on both residences and creative workspaces and now divides her time between Dublin and Lisbon.
  • In operation for over 20 years, John Eiffe Building & Renovations has completed a range of domestic extensions and renovation projects across Leinster. A cabinetmaker by trade, John also crafts bespoke kitchens and units which feature in many of the projects. For the Sandymount residence, John built the TV unit in the living area. 


  • Soft furnishings/sofas: All custom-made by InSpace
  • Tiles: All Tilestyle
  • Lights: Spark & Bell, Hicken, Pooky, Curiousa
  • Dining chairs: Woo Design
  • Dining table: Bear Creation & Rathmines Glass


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