how we live

'We moved in just before the shutdown': Emma Clair's DIY home renovation project

‘We got a massive delivery of paint and have ordered some other supplies too.’

About your home

Where? Kilpedder, Co Wicklow

What type of house? An early 1990s semi-detached corner house

How many bedrooms and bathrooms? 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms

When did you move in? We moved in March 2020, just before the Covid-19 restrictions really kicked in. I feel really lucky that we were able to move in, and now we have time to really focus on making the house our own. Kate from Carlow Paint Hub delivered a massive paint order and we’ve been able to get deliveries of other home supplies to keep up the transformation.

About you

Name: Emma Clair Clarke 

Age: 35

Occupation: Secondary school English and History teacher 

Who else lives there? My (long-suffering and very compliant!) husband Matthew and our tyrannical chihuahua cross, Jasper. 

What made you choose this home over others? 

This is our first real home and when we began the process of looking to buy we had a strict criteria of what we wanted. We wanted to buy a forever home, not something ‘for now’. This house fitted the bill and has lots of potential for us to make it our own over time. 

We spent seven years living in a converted shed in my mum’s garden while we saved for a deposit so we were determined to make the right choice. This house was the first house that we were really interested in and I knew from the moment I stepped into it that it was ours.

It was serendipitous that I ended up in Kilpedder, my dad lives just a field away so I’ve sort of ended up where I began! 

What is your favourite place in your home?

So far, it’s the front sitting room. I wanted to create a decadent vibe in there so I have an emerald three seater couch, some teak antique furniture that belonged to my grandmother and jewel toned accessories. I had been planning this room in my head long before we moved in and had collected antiques and prints over time from flea markets and charity shops. I’m a big upcycler and love pieces with a story, and I think this room is a testament to that. 


 Are there any parts of the house you don’t like?

I am not mad about the bathrooms right now as they’re very bland, but I have plans including Moroccan tiling, greenery and jazzy wallpaper that I’m sure will solve that problem! 

Is there any part of your home that you think is unique? 

The kitchen/diner is an L-shape, so we’ll be able to create a structured dining room space that is separate to the kitchen. I’m styling it thinking about all the dinner parties we’re going to have when all this is over. I added a small bar cart (an IKEA hack, upcycling a portable wooden island) to add a sense of luxury to the space. 

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How does an average day start and end in your home?

I have a pre-9am coffee before work kicks off: My virtual classroom is set up in my own library so I log on in the morning with my students for 9am. A coffee on the terrace is a must before attacking the day.

We shut down around midnight: We walk Jasper at night, have a cuppa and then head to bed. You will always find us in the front room in the evenings debating about whose turn it is to make the tea. 

Is there anything you’d do differently if you were doing it again?

We were lucky in lots of ways so there’s nothing I’d do differently. We were clear what we wanted from our house and how it needed to work for us and I spent a lot of time researching interiors and different spaces to ascertain what could work for our little family. 

My advice would always be to think carefully about what you want in a house and to think about your future self too. It’s too big a decision to make to just act in the now.

More: ‘We start the day listening to Eighties music’: A snapshot of life in this bright Dublin 6 home>

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