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Living in a horse shoe!

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A home fit for a Lord & Lady

Chára Nagle lives with her partner Alan Crosbie in a horse shoe shaped converted stable in Dublin with their family.

Ms Nagle is an artist from County Cork and she has owned this home since 2006 and has been living here with Alan and their family since 2015. 

The building dates back to 1674 and was originally part of an estate. Chára and Alan renovated the home to make it more conducive to modern family living. 

Their aim was to make it a modern-day ginger bread cottage (hence the pink exterior). The building is curved so all of the furniture had to be specially made to fit the space. 

They converted the downstairs conservatory into a master bedroom and added the round window. She had brass finished wardrobes and storage areas made throughout the house to maximise the space. 

Her own arts hang on the walls and there are quirky collectibles throughout the home. Chára likes to create ‘stories,’ and ‘moments,’ throughout the house.

Ms Nagle’s natural facility for drawing and painting was evident from a young age. This talent was initially nurtured in the Crawford Municipal School of Art in Cork and later in the National College of Art and Design in Dublin where she graduated with a joint honours degree in Fine Art Sculpture and Art History (1996). The tutors in NCAD challenged Chára’s creative process and changed how she interpreted the world. An initial task was to find seven different types of dust, and it was through this minute examination of the mundane that the artist began to investigate simple objects such as the dazzling brightness of a dew-drenched autumn leaf. 

This allowed her to create an alternative reality that transported the viewer away from the everyday, like the magical effect of childhood films such as The Wizard of Oz. This ‘imaginative interpretation,’ became the linchpin of the design practice that Chára established after graduation. Indeed, it was this unique ‘way of seeing,’  that heralded the success of CN Design as it attracted commissions from such elite brands as Smirnoff, Jameson, Budweiser, MINI, BMW, Guinness and Coca Cola. 

Here Ms Nagle talks to us…

“When we initially bought the house we decided that we were going to clad the walls (in mirror) around the stairs to create an optical illusion because we didn’t want the stairs to take over the whole space. When you look at the stairs you may think that you are looking at windows but you are actually looking at the reflection of the windows in the glass and it is lightness in that area,” explained Chára Nagle.

“Originally the kitchen was very dark, it was very much a 1970’s styled space with brown and mustard tiles with fake pine units and it was a bit dated so the idea was to keep the kitchen nice and light as well as airy and lofty because as the house is a horse shoe shaped building that is a few  hundred years old (built in the 1700’s and it was actually part of the entrance into the Talbot Estate). As the building is so old and because the windows aren’t very big and the walls are very deep we wanted as much light in the kitchen as possible so that is why everything is different shades of off white. We white washed the new floor boards in the kitchen because we wanted them to look old and we lacquered the floor as well.

“The kitchen had to be custom made because the house curves and you have to put custom made stuff into it. We don’t have curtains or blinds on any of the windows because we wanted to keep the house open and bright. It’s a modern day twist on an old house whilst also trying to make some things (like the kitchen floor) look old.

“The back of our house is an outdoor snug and we have it decked out in customised wooden seating etc and we also have a Big Green Egg barbecue there as well and it cooks everything! We also have outdoor heating in the snug,” added Ms Nagle.

As to the layout of the house?

“The living room, master bedroom and the master bathroom are upstairs. Everything had to be custom made apart from the bed. The couch is an ‘L,’ shaped couch and that was custom made due to the fact that the back wall of the house that the ‘L,’ of the couch is sitting against is curved and to save losing space I got the builder to build a couch out of plywood and I designed it,” enthused Chára.

In terms of what Chára loves most about her fabulous home?

“When I was younger I spent summers down in my Grandmother’s house in West Cork (I grew up in Cork City) and used to go to a beach Owenahincha Beach and friends of hers were Architects and they had their summer house beside the beach and there house was a triangular shaped house and their living room was upstairs and they had this view over the beach and I always thought it was cool because when you are in bed you are mostly sleeping and not looking out the window so I always said that when I grew up I wanted to have my living room upstairs in my house,” revealed Ms Nagle.

“The previous owner of my house also had their living room upstairs and when I saw that I remember saying to myself ‘I’ve arrived!’ I also love the couch in the living room because it is big enough that a few people can lie on the couch and they are not touching.

“We built on an extension to the back of the house (to include a third bedroom) and now we’re delighted with the extra space and our outdoor snug. We’ve turned it into a real lifestyle house and we’re happy enough to not to go the pub and relax at home with a glass of wine on a Friday night or read the papers on a Sunday morning over brunch in the snug! 

“We also have an instant garden at the front of the house and it is the kind of garden that you get lost in and forget all your troubles. There isn’t a thing I would change about our house,” concluded Chára Nagle.

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