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'I love the light-filled drawing room': Inside this manor house that a family restored from dereliction

Eilin O’Carroll takes us through a day behind her front doors – the former stables she lives in, and the manor she is renovating.

The former stable house, adjacent to the manor, that is home to Eilin O'Carroll and family - before and after the renovation Source: Firmount House

About your home

Where? Clane, Kildare
What type of house? Our home is a converted stable house adjacent to a large Victorian manor house, which we have been renovating for the past four years. When we bought it, derelict, over six years ago, we renovated the stable house first and moved in. Then we started work on the larger Victorian house adjacent.
How many bedrooms and bathrooms? In the stable house, four bedrooms and four bathrooms. In the adjacent Firmount House, around 10 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms.
When did you move in? We bought Firmount House in a derelict state in December 2012 and renovated the stable house first, moving in when it was not quite complete in September 2013!

About you

Name: Eilin O’Carroll
Age: In my 40s!!
Occupation: Asset management consultant and event organiser at Firmount House.
Who else lives there? My husband and two children

What made you choose this home over others?

I had moved away from Ireland in the late nineties. David is from South Africa and we met in London. We knew we wanted to have children and wanted to rear them in Ireland. We started looking for a house to renovate while still in London, but only found Firmount House when we moved back home to Dublin in mid 2012.

On my life wish list had always been a full house renovation. My grandfather had renovated several properties in London years before so it must be in the blood! Firmount House stood out as it was a large scale renovation in a location commutable to Dublin and Dublin Airport for my work. It looked like it was in relatively okay condition — little did we know!

Which place in your home do you love the most?

There are two places I love the most – the large double floor height window in the stable house where you can bask in the sun (on rare occasions) watching the 200-year-old trees sway in the wind. The picture was from when we finished the renovation – it looks a lot more messy now!

And the second place is sitting in the light-filled drawing room in the large Victorian house, imagining how life must have been there a few hundred years before, while working on my computer.

Which place in your home do you love the least?

The cellar of Firmount House – it was used as a nuclear bunker in the sixties and is quite dark and scary! I don’t like going down there in daylight, let alone at night time!

Take us through a day in your house, room by room.

As David and I both work or renovate during the week, I will take you through a Saturday morning.

7am: No alarm is set but our kids, who usually have to be shaken awake during the school week, are up and lively from 7am on!
8:45am: David will go down with them to the open plan kitchen/living area to make pancakes while I get a lie in til 8.45am.
9:30am: There is usually a rush at around 9.30 to get the boys ready for rugby training where David is one of the coaches.
10am: Between 10 and 12 I usually open up Firmount House for event or photo shoot viewings and I show people around.
12pm: The three boys are back by 12 and strip out of their mud stained gear!
1pm: Lunch is together around 1pm and is usually thrown together from whatever is in the fridge.
2pm: Either David or I will usually work on the renovation on Saturday afternoon while the other takes the boys scooting to Castletown or swimming at the local pool.
4pm: The boys are allowed some Xbox time in what we call our braai room (as it has an indoor bbq) on the weekends. And we try and settle down to a family movie post dinner, before the boys go to bed around 8.30pm (but to sleep around 9.30 despite our best efforts).
12am: I am a night owl and would rarely be able to sleep before midnight or 1am so I speak with friends, read interiors magazines, watch a movie or read a good book.

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

I would definitely put in a larger laundry room in the stable house. The one we have is simply too small and too cold. And I would choose fake wood windows rather than real wood windows. It sounds like an awful thing to say, but these days good fake wood windows are so realistic and pretty much maintenance free. I find the real wood windows are a lot more work.

And in Firmount House I would use more bold colours on the ground floor (we are currently finishing the renovation of the first floor and I am using bolder colours there). All the windows of Firmount have to be real wood! I used Farrow & Ball Downpipe and Castle Grey in three of the rooms on the ground floor and they have ended up being my favourite rooms – so I have to trust my colour instincts more!

More real homes: ‘The minute I saw it, I loved it’: Inside this stylish self-build tailored for a growing family>

About the author:

Emily Westbrooks

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