Giving an underused spare bedroom a new lease of life as a teen den

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Giving An Underused Spare Bedroom A New Lease Of Life As A Teen Den Giving An Underused Spare Bedroom A New Lease Of Life As A Teen Den
Irish Times DFS feature
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As editor of interiors glossy House and Home magazine and interiors Instagrammer at @ciaraelliott, Dubliner Ciara Elliott is no stranger to renovations and revamps. So when it came to the Red House, a 200-year-old Georgian farmhouse in Mistley in rural Essex that she and husband Ben bought in 2017, and live in with daughters Edie, 13, Astrid, 11, and cat Milo, the couple found themselves reimagining and restoring the space in its entirety.

This allowed them to thoroughly put their own stamp on things – even though that wasn’t what they were looking for initially. “It was an absolute wreck when we bought it,” Elliott recalls. “It’s not that we were dying for a project but with the resources we had, it made more sense to do a bit of work to get what we wanted.”

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Previously owned by the artist Peter Coker, a full renovation, which included all the basics – plumbing, electrics, windows and roof – was essential and had to be completed before they could move in. In the time since, the couple has also added a kitchen extension which opens up into the idyllic garden (complete with lily pond), which was maintained by Coker in a French Monet style.

Ciara Elliott outside her home, the Red House, a 200-year-old Georgian farmhouse in Mistley, in rural Essex

Despite her background in interiors and styling, Elliott admits that she didn’t have, “a massive overall idea” for the house and instead allowed the space to come together organically by adding a mix of mid-century furniture, prints and paintings on the walls and including lots of contrast and colour courtesy of textiles and soft furnishings.

She also sees her interiors as a work in progress, and likes to move furniture and decorative accessories such as vases and candlesticks, and vintage finds around in different ways.

“I suppose because I work a lot in interiors I’m always changing my mind, and I’m quite a magpie. And because I’m a stylist as well, I change things around a lot so nothing is very permanent, in my book. I’ll paint a wall and then repaint it. I’ll put in a piece of furniture and then take it out again. I think of my house as a bit of a set.

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“I’m really scared of things like wallpaper for that reason because then you really have to commit to something. So I’m sort of a commitment phobe when it comes to things like that.”

Cara Elliott and her new DFS couch

However she’s also a firm believer in allowing your living space to evolve naturally over time. “Like any house, things are in progress all the time and changing, and for me that’s the biggest takeaway about interiors, it’s that you grow with your house,” she offers.

“I guess I’m quite fluid when it comes to the house and my style. And we’re lucky that we have that kind of house that’s quite versatile. The bones of the house are really nice – the windows, the height of the ceilings, the floors – so I guess you can do a lot with that. We don’t have to hide the internal architecture.”

Shown here with five seats, “the sofa comes in pieces which you then assemble. You can also reassemble it in different ways – so you can have it as a two-seater, as a three-seater, two two-seaters or put all the bits together,” Elliott says

Making a new space

Describing her home as “top heavy”, with a lot of bedrooms but not as many rooms downstairs, Elliott’s most recent room switch-up came about as the family began to use the house differently over the past year or so.

“We’ve always shared the downstairs living space and in lockdown we were like, ‘why are we watching Disney movies?’” she laughs. “In lockdown we got into a routine of going to bed at the same time so it was important that we had separate wind-down rooms. I think when you design a house, that’s a really important thing to bear in mind.”

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Elliott set upon the idea of transforming her guest bedroom into a den for Edie and Astrid, after it became apparent that the girls needed their own space.

Edie, Astrid (and Milo) love the new space

After removing the double bed from the room, she originally put a daybed in the space but says it wasn’t big or comfortable enough to relax on. So to completely overhaul the room’s functionality and convert it into the ultimate chill-out zone for the girls, Elliott has made a blush pink velvet modular Sofables sofa from DFS its focal point.

“I’ve always wanted a pink sofa and I don’t think I would have done it in our main sitting room,” she says of the bold choice. “But putting it against a brown wall and adding in pops of monochrome and pops of yellow, it works.”

Designed to offer flexibility, you choose from modular individual seat units, arm/back units,  and optional extra scatter cushions in a range of colours and fabrics, to create a sofa that works for your home

She’s also a fan of how versatile and family-friendly the sofa is. Designed to offer flexibility, you choose from modular individual seat units, arm/back units,  and optional extra scatter cushions in a range of colours and fabrics, to create a sofa that works for your home.

“We have skinny hallways which can be a challenge, but the sofa comes in pieces which you then assemble. You can also easily reassemble it in different ways ­– so you can have it as a two-seater, as a three-seater, two two-seaters or put all the bits together,” she explains.

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“It’s a very good thing to have now, and it’ll be good in the future too because you can easily put it somewhere else,” Elliott points out. “You don’t tend to move a sofa around, but this Sofables sofa does come apart, and you can change it around easily, so you can reconfigure the seating to suit however you’re using the space at the time.”

Its flexibility is already paying dividends. “We had our first guest a while ago and one of the kids gave up their room and slept comfortably on the sofa,” she reveals.

Elliott’s daughters are equally enthused about their new sofa and chill-out space.

“They love it because Edie also has a little art area in one area of the room and Astrid is a TV and iPad addict, so she sits there splayed out on the sofa. It’s a double-aspect room, so it feels like a bit of a city apartment,” Elliott says. “We’re very lucky to have the room to spread out like that.”

DFS has been making furniture for over five decades. With every sofa handmade, and a design to suit every home, DFS is Europe’s largest sofa expert. DFS has stores in Blanchardstown Retail Park and Carrickmines in Dublin; City Gate, Mahon, Cork; Ballysimon Road, Limerick; and Well Park Retail Park, Galway, and delivers nationwide.

Discover the DFS Sofables range at stores nationwide - www.dfs.ie

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