When Anna and Chris Rudden and their two children Emily and Amelia moved into Chris’s family home, they wanted to make it their own yet retain a sense of its past.
The picturesque town of Belturbet in Co Cavan is interior designer Arlene McIntyre’s next stop in the series Designed for Life on Tuesday night as she meets the Ruddens in the riverside residence where Chris was born and raised.
“My parents built the house around 1990, I think, and growing up, the house was so big — as a kid it was like being in a mansion; at one point, I remember playing football in the sitting room while it was being built,” says Chris.
Chris’s dad died in 2014 and Chris’s mother Eileen decided to downsize. Chris and Anna bought the house when Eileen moved to a smaller house nearby.
Making design changes is hard for Anna when she knows the property has so much history and sentimental value for Eileen and Christopher.
Can this be done without treading on toes?
Anna and Chris want to take on the family home yet remain “super-sensitive” to the way it was before, notes Arlene.
The couple would like to start with the living room and their bedroom. In the living room, as Chris says, they like the coving, fireplace, and river view.
Arlene surveys the room and the first thing she notices is the amount of wasted or “dead” space.
“The challenge is to reclaim this and make it feel like it’s one big space that’s working together, reclaiming it back into your lives, with better seating and better storage,” she says.
“I also think we could chat about introducing an area rug in there.”
Arlene points out how rugs can define areas and “pull a room together”.
“Plain rugs open a space and patterned rugs make a larger room feel more intimate,” she says.
In the case of this room, she notes how rugs can be used to introduce light, as can paint.
Arlene is keen to make the room more “centred” by moving the fireplace and using joinery, as well as maximising the views to “bring the outside in.
Arlene also draws up a plan for the master bedroom, but the couple decide that their €10,000-€15,000 would be better used on focusing on one zone only and they opt for the living room.
The project involves relocating the fireplace, which Arlene believes drains the room of light. Arelene also introduces bright colours to the room.
The finished project ticks all boxes.
“Every bit of the room is being used,” says Anna.
As for Chris’s mother Eileen’s verdict?
“This is a new start, it’s lovely. I just can’t believe it’s the same room,” she says.
“Well, I just hope you’re as happy here as I was.”
Pointing to the display of photographs she adds: “And Dad made it in as well.”
Leading international interior designer Arlene McIntyre works with different-sized homes, budgets, personalities and challenges to show that design is not only accessible — but can enhance how we live in our homes in Designed for Life. She is the creative director of interiors and bespoke furniture company Ventura Design, which she founded in 2005.
- Designed For Life is broadcast on Tuesdays at 8.30pm on RTÉ One