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Inside a 1950s semi-D in Dublin 14: 'We do a lot of our living in the kitchen extension'

Eimear Tolan grew up in this Rathfarnham three-bed, and now lives there with her own family.

house 1 Source: Eimear Tolan

About the home

Where? Rathfarnham, Dublin 14
What type of house? Semi-detached 1950s home with a rear extension
How many bedrooms and bathrooms? 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
When did you move in? In 2012, a few months after our eldest was born

About you

Name: Eimear Tolan
Age: 41
Occupation: Jewellery designer
Who else lives there? My husband, our kids Ella (6) and Patrick (almost 4), and Apollo Rainbow Ninja Glow Cat Tolan (the cat)

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

There was no contest as this was my childhood home, which Dad purchased for IR£5,000 in 1954. After he passed away, we bought the house from my family and haven’t looked back.

eimear Source: Instagram/Eimear Tolan

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

I love the garden. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a kip as we don’t maintain it but with young kids it’s a lifesaver. When we need to hit the reset button, we go outside and look up. 

I also love my home office. I design constantly and often have multiple projects on the go. Often I will make a prototype in silver, wax or other materials at my jewellery bench. It’s my happy, creative space.

Finally, like all parents of small kids with a day job, I love my bed. I go all out with a lavender spray for my pillow, an eye mask, blackout curtains and earplugs, like a celeb on a transatlantic flight.

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

Probably the box room, because it’s cold. It’s north facing and a bit of a dumping ground, But it used to be my bedroom and I remember staying up late reading Roald Dahl under the covers, sneaking sweets and swatting spiders, so I can’t be too hard on it!

house 2 Source: Eimear Tolan

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

8.00am: The kids wake up before we do. Today is a Saturday so they trot downstairs for breakfast and cartoons.
9.30am: We rouse ourselves. I descend the stairs to the kitchen/living/dining room extension that we do most of our living in. I usually end up cleaning Ready Brek off the couch, walls and cat. If I catch it before it turns to cement, it’s a good day, but either way the lie in is worth it.
10.45: I take Ella to swimming and on a jewellery errand afterwards. 
14.00: Back to the ranch for lunch.
15.30: The early afternoon is unstructured play in the extension for them unless there is a playdate or birthday in the calendar. We try to play with the kids and do a bit of washing.
16.30: We always need to go out again before tempers fray. Kids need frequent changes of scenery, so we go to the park.
17.30: Movie time in the extension for the kids while Conor and I get some work done. Conor is doing a Masters and is often found in the utility room/office which he shares with the chest freezer, left over from my parents’ era. There is a smidge of daylight from a skylight but otherwise it’s a pretty dark room. I might take some time upstairs where it’s quiet. While the extension is just five years old, the rest of the house is stuck firmly in the 1980s, replete with an avocado bathroom suite. Surely it is just a matter of time before that becomes achingly cool again?
19.00: Dinner, followed by playing and often dancing around the kitchen. I can’t get away with playing old-school hip hop anymore as Ella now understands the words…
20.00: Bed for the kids upstairs. If we’re both staying in and not working, Netflix goes on in the living room and we relax.
00.30: Bed time for us!

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

To be honest, I really like our house. It’s warm and cosy. In 2012, we got the extension out the back to create our current living/kitchen/dining area so there’s enough space now too.

More: Inside this self-built home by the lakeside: ‘I don’t get long before I’m invaded by the children’>

About the author:

Emily Westbrooks

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