Interiors guru shares the secrets of her Georgian townhouse 

Maoliosa Murray tells Eve Kelliher how she's greeting the festive season in both her Georgian workspace and Victorian home
Interiors guru shares the secrets of her Georgian townhouse 

Interiors concierge Maoliosa Murray. Pictures: Moya Nolan

It really is the most magical time of the year for Maoliosa Murray.

The interiors concierge and her son Max are about to spend their first festive season in the house they moved into in September.

They have also just returned from a super seasonal visit to London.

Maoliosa has long been the go-to for the international set who want to create a home with something that little bit “extra”.

She even has what she calls her “little black book” packed with dream contacts from the industry.

Max, at the tender age of four, is showing all the signs of inheriting his mother’s eye. “He has the design gene. He knows what he does and doesn’t like and what colours work together,” says the Dublin native.

But glamour and glitz got the better of the four-year-old as they combed the London shelves for decoration ideas. “There were a lot of very sparkly Christmas pieces picked up that had to be put right back,” says Maoliosa.

“I like a very simple Christmas tree and he went off choosing glittery Christmas ice-skate decorations and things.”

Back this week in Dublin it’s all systems go, in their Victorian redbrick in Rathgar and in The Apartment, Maoliosa’s work studio in Pembroke Road.

The Apartment, Maoliosa's design studio, is set in a Georgian townhouse in Dublin. 
The Apartment, Maoliosa's design studio, is set in a Georgian townhouse in Dublin. 

“Christmas is a very fun time, and what’s lovely about it is we’re living in a wonderful neighbourhood,” says Maoliosa.

The interiors guru has enjoyed a career steeped in luxury lifestyle brands and fashion with a focus on property and had divided her time between London and her home city until last year.

Having represented The Rug Company for 12 years, she had been keen on returning to Ireland for some time.

The impending arrival of Max was the turning point and she was drawn back to Dublin partly due to the Irish market, and “partly due to the quality of life here”.

“I am now living on a road I walked up and down a lot with Max when he was a baby. It’s very family-orientated and that’s quite rare — that you have neighbours that you know you have a relationship with; it’s a very friendly welcoming road. 

"We’re looking forward to hosting neighbours and friends on Christmas morning. And we’ve a working fire!” she says.

“It’s close to family, and to Max’s Montessori (he rides his bike there and I walk), we’ve got lots of gorgeous restaurants in the area — you almost feel like you’re not in the city but yet at the same time, I’m door-to-door to my showroom in 15 minutes; it’s the best of both worlds.”

While house hunting, Maoliosa was drawn to Georgian townhouse apartments in Ballsbridge. “The apartment I owned in London was of a similar style, and I felt they were the sort of properties you’d see in London and Paris,” she says.

“I viewed this townhouse when these were for sale and I loved it — but unfortunately I felt it was too small for family life, for life with a toddler, so, sadly, I walked away from it,” she says.

Still, the Pembroke Road property continued to resonate with her. “I had thought it would be perfect for work — then, it became available to rent a year later so it made sense for me to return,” says Maoliosa.

She created her interiors hub in the townhouse, naming it The Apartment, where she runs a one-stop-shop concierge service.

Diane von Furstenburg

Maoliosa recently launched the new Diane von Furstenberg collection for The Rug Company ‘On the Wild Side’ at the second, newly opened drawing room showroom there.

 Diane Von Furstenburg rug designs on display at Maoliosa's showroom in Dublin. 
Diane Von Furstenburg rug designs on display at Maoliosa's showroom in Dublin. 

Natural light

The natural light in The Apartment space was a huge draw for Maoliosa. “I love this building, not only because it’s on the ground floor, with a high ceiling, but because of the wonderful light, there are 20 panes of glass in the sash window,” she says.

Maoliosa is the exclusive partner of The Rug Company in Ireland, and The Apartment showroom and design consultancy is also the perfect organic showcase for the other luxury brands she carries such as The Invisible Collection, Baxter, Bethan Gray, CTO Lighting, and The Lacquer Company.

Drawing rooms

In the workplace, what would have essentially been the two drawing rooms are now adjoining one another. 

"There were double doors that would have divided them and we only just got permission to remove them and temporarily and store them carefully," says Maoliosa.

"Obviously, we will put them back, but what that’s done is allow us to enjoy the space! It is dedicated to our rugs, rugs on the wall — it’s a really beautiful space. 

"And there is a table situated right in front of another giant sash window looking out on to Pembroke Road so I have windows at either end of the work space now where our furniture and light brands are also displayed.

"I have a fire lighting in winter months, so this is my happy space because it is really fun and really festive at the moment."

Designer collection

"Diane von Furstenberg has worked with Rug Company for over 20 years and this collection is what is in situ in this new space at the minute but the space alternate with different collections.

"We’ve always wanted to open out the space careful job, storing the job. It was a really meticulous job, done by painters Farrelly and Co. and John Hussey of Husswood. 

"John has worked on the entire building here and has worked on the showroom here from day one has also created all the panel details and so on. He removed and restored the architrave Farrelly and Co came in and painted the whole space."

Q&A

Describe your home and interiors

It’s a redbrick Victorian house in Rathgar and we also have a double drawing room there with a similar high-ceiling style and I also have Rug Company rugs at home. 

I’ve just repainted the house and I’ve just reupholstered a beautiful sofa in Teddy Mohair velvet camel colour.

It’s one of my favourite fabrics to work with and we work a lot with that particular fabric, especially with pieces from The Invisible Collection. It’s extremely luxurious and decadent but is also very practical, especially when you have kids.

My whole design ethic in the brands I work with is to use noble materials, for instance, solid wood and natural fabrics. People can be a bit nervous with beautiful fabrics, but with these luxuriant fabrics, such as Pierre Frey, they’re living natural materials, they are very resilient.

The Diane von Furstenberg rugs can be plain wool, living silk, they can come in different compositions.

We can hoover them every day. Silk, for instance, is one of the hardiest materials you can work with.

Biggest extravagance at home?

Flowers, I always have fresh flowers in the house because I feel like they lift the place.

Favourite household chore?

Hoovering, simply because you have to keep on top of it, I probably hoover every day, when you have sash windows and big bay windows, and high ceilings, or when you have spaces with Georgian or Victorian proportions you just see the dust. 

I probably have the Dyson plugged in in both spaces all the time, permanently. My son loves hoovering too! He likes all the gadgets.

Least favourite task?

All of the housework!

Are you a DIY whizz?

No, I’m one of those people who is always coming up with ways to constantly renovate and rejuvenate but I’m so time-poor like so many people, luckily with having my concierge business I have my little black book of tradespeople to call on.

Maoliosa and Max last year.
Maoliosa and Max last year.

I’m very handy with an electric screwdriver but the unfortunate thing with having a child in the house is I have to hide it, because he arrives with his toy screwdriver to help me — I always have a little helper in tow.

Fridge or kitchen cupboard must-have?

Max loves Marmite, so we have a jar of Marmite everywhere. He is addicted to Marmite sandwiches, he loves it on everything. Even on our recent trips, we packed a jar of Marmite for the hotel, family members always have it in their cupboards.

Do you like cooking and what’s your signature dish?

I’m not a huge meat eater, but I cook meat for Max, and I cook a lot of meat, a lot of pasta. Over Christmas, I am hoping to make use of the Aga in our house.

Who would be your dream dinner-party guest?

Definitely some absent family, people who are no longer with us — but then also definitely Tom Hardy, he’d be on my Santa list.

Dream guest: Tom Hardy.
Dream guest: Tom Hardy.

What is your interiors advice?

Whatever your budget is try to buy well and quality pieces.

Start with a rug and then you can build around it.

What is your favourite-ever project?

Currently, one I’m just completing that we only started working on this year. 

It’s a beautiful period house in Temple Villas, Dublin, with some beautiful classical tones throughout. 

We’re really excited about seeing it completed for Christmas and seeing the Christmas tree going up.

Sometimes you meet people in your career and they have an impact and it’s been a happy project to work on we’re just excited to hand it over.

Are you looking forward to Christmas?

This year, Max is four, so he gets it!

We’re lucky: We’ve two beautiful trees in the front garden, so we’re putting all the soft white on as decorations: I like to just keep it really simple.

We are so excited to be doing the tree: Max will want to up on the step ladder but he’ll be held back. He loves to be involved though!

Describe Christmas morning

A floor covered in Lego!

How do you unwind? 

Netflix and peppermint tea and now that we light the fire and I retreat to the adjoining room, my own living room, when I get Max to bed, I sink into my big modular velvet sofa — that’s my favourite spot, to curl up in there, with the fire lit. 

That’s where I like to unwind. But like so many people I do tend to send emails at all hours!

What keeps you awake at night?

I do need to learn to put the phone down. I also have a lot of clients that live abroad, in different time zones, so there’s always something going on.

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