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Dublin: 15°C Monday 18 October 2021

'I love that everything in the house reflects our taste': Inside a 1970s fixer-upper bungalow in Clare

Mum-of-three Brenda Mullins takes us through a day behind her front door.

house2 Source: Instagram/Brenda Mullins

About the home

Where? Co. Clare
What type of house? A bungalow, built in the 1970s
How many bedrooms and bathrooms? 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
When did you move in? We bought in 2015 and renovated in the same year

About you

Name: Brenda Mullins
Age: 35
Occupation: Guidance counsellor
Who else lives there? My husband and the three kids – Noah (5), Ava (3) and Hannah (10 weeks)

1. What made you choose this house over other ones?

I was pregnant at the time, so we were initially set on buying a house that didn’t need much work. My mum had sent me a picture of this house at the very beginning but I hadn’t given it much thought as it was too much of a ‘project’.  

But after viewing some ready-to-move-in houses within our budget, we realised that even those homes would need some kind of work done. So weeks went by, we re-assessed our situation, started to look at doer uppers – and decided to view this house.

Although structurally sound it was extremely dated, unlived in for a few years and smelled really bad. I always had an interest in interiors and I could visualise what it would eventually look like, so we decided to put in an offer and after around six weeks it was ours.

Now, I love that everything in the house reflects our taste and I have thoroughly enjoyed decorating and adding personality to it.

2. Which place in your home do you love the most (and why)?

I love our living room the most. The living room looks onto the garden and in the summer there are gorgeous trees in full bloom. The view is lovely and it feels so secluded and private. It has big arched windows and a beautiful original brick fireplace. It’s a very relaxing place to sit during the day. 

3. Which place in your home do you love the least (and why)?

I have a love/hate relationship with the main bathroom. The big downside is that there is no bath. When we bought the house we took it out, as the room was so long and narrow already that we figured we had to make a sacrifice for more space. But we are in the middle of getting work done on the bathroom right now, and when it’s done I’m hoping I’ll finally start to love it.

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

7am: The kids wake up, and to avoid them waking the baby, my husband takes them up to the living room or their playroom. They generally don’t play in their bedrooms which makes it a lot easier to keep them tidy.

9.10am: Our son goes off to school. Ava, our three year old is at home for the day. She potters around with her toys in the living room or the playroom. We are also really fortunate to have a big garden. I am on maternity leave so I get to spend a lot more time with her during the day; she’s a busy little thing and enjoys exploring the different spaces.

2pm: Noah is collected from school. Both kids then get lunch in the kitchen and usually watch a little TV after.

3:30pm: Homework is finished and my husband takes the kids outside for an hour or so. The garden has lots of mature trees and the kids love being outside with the dog and cats. They’re totally content chasing one another, picking flowers and playing on the slide.

5:30pm: We always make a point of sitting down together for dinner as a family. Baby Hannah sits with us too, though she’s in her bouncer.

7pm: We get the two older kids to bed, and it can take about an hour for them to go to sleep.

8pm: With the kids asleep, ideally my husband and I will sit down with a cuppa or a glass of wine and unwind after the day – but that doesn’t happen as much now with the new baby!

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

We would definitely put in under floor heating in the kitchen and bathroom. While the house heats up really well, there’s still the shock of cold tiles in the morning or the middle of the night. And in hindsight I also think we’d keep the bath. With a young family, you’d miss not having one. Other than that, we are happy with our home… it has been a labour of love.

More: Inside this Walkinstown three-bed which was gutted and revamped: ‘The living room is our escape’>

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