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A terraced period house in Dublin gets its groove back in HELEN KILMARTIN’S contemporary home.

In the dining area, a black lacquer table by Eero Saarinen and classic upholstered dining chairs. The cabinet and lamp are by Minotti. The paintings throughout the house are by contemporary Irish artists.

In Helen Kilmartin’s sleekly luxurious home and former workspace in one of Dublin’s picturesque canalside terraces, the seemingly impossible was achieved: the restoration of a magnificent 19th-century house, designed and decorated in comfortable contemporary mode. Kilmartin has crafted elegant modern interiors for many years, importing Italian furniture brands like Prememoria, B&B Italia, Flexform, Minotti, MDF Italia and Casamilano and showing them in a domestic setting. It was a clever approach where visitors absorbed not just the pieces they saw but gleaned hints of a very attractive way of life.

In the drawing room, curtains in a voile by Baumann filter the light through the Georgian windows. The sofas and side table are by Casamilano; the lights are by Santa & Cole.

Throughout Dublin’s history, the banks of the canals have come in and out of fashion as places to live. Now that the capital has become so densely populated, the Georgian terraces, once the domain of offices, have a newly domestic air as families have moved in and refurbished. It can be assumed that most have been refurbished in one of two styles, either the traditional period transformation or the newly minimal stripped back space. Kilmartin avoided both, bringing to this space the kind of contemporary comfort that is very inviting. As a metropolitan space, it was intended for entertaining, studded with modern furniture and art, and planned with an urban edge. Using the hall as a smart starting point with its glossy floor, mirrored wall and crystal chandelier, the sequence of rooms unfolds.

An antique silver gilt mirror hangs over the marble fireplace. The chair is by Paolo Navone, the lacquer table by Minotti and the bar cabinet by B&B Italia.

Whilst the interior was unconventional for a house of this period, the original interior divisions were maintained so no radical open plan solution was imposed. Instead, in the darkly glamorous ground floor rooms, furnished with a roll-call of smart designer pieces – Saarinen, Minotti, Castiglione and others – the mood was richly sober, the textures masculine, in contrast with the upper level where light diffused through the long Georgian windows and the palette was all creams and pale grey. At both levels, the main rooms had fine 18th-century marble functioning fireplaces, around which were grouped various pieces of modern furniture, a natural juxtaposition of old and new.

Helen Kilmartin

What makes this house ideal for a busy life in the city? It is logically laid out, the rooms arranged to be adaptable to work and domestic life and the contents an ever-changing mix of exciting modern pieces. Although Kilmartin has moved her showroom to Hanover Quay, her home remains a great reflection of her style.