DesignLed Creates a Theatrical Interior for a Dublin Home

DesignLed Creates a Theatrical Interior for a Dublin Home

After spending the early part of her career as a documentary film director, Dublin resident Lisa Marconi pivoted a decade ago to become a self-taught interior designer. As principal of DesignLed, she has cultivated a practice informed by her visual-arts background but with a strong focus on client collaboration and input. Due, perhaps, to her outsider’s perspective, Marconi’s approach to each project is especially accommodating. As she says, “I’m not someone who has very strict rules about what you can and cannot, should and should not do.”

No surprise, then, that Marconi enthusiastically accepted the challenge when a couple came to her with a residential project full of highly specific requests—dark teal walls, among them—as well as some fundamentally contradictory ones. The clients were tearing down a 1970’s house to build something more modern yet modeled after the Irish capital’s famed Georgian architecture. U-shape in plan, the 4,500-square-foot home would span two stories and include formal and casual living areas along with five bedrooms, all connected by broad corridors, yet it needed to feel cozy for a family with small children. DesignLed’s brief was to make the interior as striking, even showstopping, as possible while still being friendly and welcoming to the guests the family frequently entertains. The spaces Marconi and her team created address those issues by embracing eclecticism and playing with color, scale, and detail.

How This Home Interior Reflects Dublin’s Georgian Architecture  

A key element in the designer’s overall strategy is something so subtle it’s hardly noticeable at first, despite the fact that it begins the moment you walk in the front door: the use of custom wall paneling to visually bridge the gap between the residence’s late 18th century–style facade and its contemporary interior. Vertical panels, inset with pale tonal wallpaper depicting herons, backdrop the twin staircases on either side of the double-height entry hall, where a giant bubble chandelier and oak parquet de Versailles flooring add to the immediate wow factor.

teal walls in a Georgian-style home in DublinDesignLed Creates a Theatrical Interior for a Dublin Home
Referencing the Georgian-style exterior of this newly built Dublin house, DesignLed installed custom wood-molding panels incorporating hidden doors and painted client-requested colors in the formal sitting room and elsewhere.

In the formal sitting room, the molding is more pronounced and traditional, despite the fact that the walls are color-blocked in aqua and the requested teal, the paintings are modernist-inflected acrylics by the contemporary Irish artist John Redmond, and the furniture is, as Marconi observes, “a motley crew of uber-modern and vintage” that includes such up-to-the-minute pieces as a maroon Terje Ekstrøm chair and a purple Sacha Lakic sofa juxtaposed with a pair of 1960’s oak armchairs the clients already owned. “We really liked that contrast,” she notes. The molding also performs another traditional function, which is to camouflage a cabinet bar set into the wall and a door to the adjacent study.

One Design Detail: Hidden Doorways

Upstairs in the main bedroom, the paneling is more minimalist—an updated take on the classical arch form—yet still manages to conceal doors to the en suite bathroom and boudoirlike dressing room. There are, in fact, hidden doorways in most of the principal rooms. “It’s a way of making them feel more contained and bringing the scale down, so you don’t just see doors everywhere,” Marconi explains. “It helps the house feel like a comfortable family home, not this giant mansion.” Adding to the effect, each wing of the house, and each room within it, has its own distinct personality rather than sharing a consistent style aimed at making the spaces flow seamlessly into one another. “Of course, we wanted the project to make sense as a whole,” the designer continues, “but we also wanted the rooms to stand alone.”

To that end, the guest room adjacent to the teal sitting room and study is painted deep cranberry, while the tone of the open-plan kitchen, dining, and living area that occupies the opposite wing is bright, minimalist, and neutral, augmented with natural materials like oak and Dolomite stone. The main bedroom leans more pastel, with extensive use of softer textures like velvet upholstery and wall-to-wall carpeting under Kitty Joseph’s Optik rug. And to further underscore its unique design identity, every room has a different style of statement lighting fixture, from the opulent crystal chandelier in the dressing room to the sleek, brass linear pendant above the kitchen island. The wide hallways connecting these big-personality spaces are painted plain white to act, the designer says, “as a visual palette cleanser.”

A vintage desk appoints the adjacent study.A vintage desk appoints the adjacent study.
A vintage desk appoints the adjacent study.

While Marconi takes plenty of stylistic risks, she acknowledges she was spurred on by her adventurous clients. “They weren’t looking to play it safe,” she reports, noting that the couple found DesignLed through Instagram and specifically approached the firm because of its fearlessness. “Our designs are dramatic,” Marconi admits, “though I wouldn’t describe what we do as ‘out there’ or ‘wacky’—it’s just about making an impact. Playing with shapes and colors or putting something into a room that’s theoretically too big for it but somehow works, that’s our brand.” Showstopping indeed.

Patterns and Bold Colors Make This Home Design Pop 

an oak kitchen in a Dublin homean oak kitchen in a Dublin home
Dolomite stone clads the backsplash and countertops of the custom oak kitchen, its island lined with Hay’s Neu 12 stools.
the sitting room of a Georgian-style home in Dublinthe sitting room of a Georgian-style home in Dublinthe sitting room of a Georgian-style home in Dublin
Paintings by contemporary Irish artist John Redmond overlook the sitting room’s maroon Terje Ekstrøm chair and a gold Astrea armchair and Bubble 2 sofa, both by Sacha Lakic.
a coffee table atop a rug in the teal sitting rooma coffee table atop a rug in the teal sitting room
Lievore Altherr Molina’s Piktor table rests on the sitting room’s Path rug by Catherine MacGruer.
the entry hall with a bouclé-covered chaise loungethe entry hall with a bouclé-covered chaise lounge
A custom bouclé-covered chaise lounge and Luca Nichetto’s Lato side table form a vignette under a staircase in the entry hall, capped by a Rome chandelier.
a vintage sideboard sits under the stairs in the entry halla vintage sideboard sits under the stairs in the entry hall
A vintage rosewood sideboard stands on the entry hall’s oak parquet de Versailles flooring.
a teal velvet-upholstered bed in the main bedroom of a Dublin home designed by DesignLeda teal velvet-upholstered bed in the main bedroom of a Dublin home designed by DesignLed
In the main bedroom, a Carmen pendant fixture by PaulinePlusLuis hangs above the custom velvet-upholstered bed.
a vintage dressing tablea vintage dressing table
The main bedroom’s dressing table is also vintage.
floral wallpaper on the doors of a closet in this bedroom's dressing roomfloral wallpaper on the doors of a closet in this bedroom's dressing room
Wallpaper fronts closet doors in the main bedroom’s dressing room, where all storage is custom.
two types of ceramic tile, white and teal, are found in the powder roomtwo types of ceramic tile, white and teal, are found in the powder room
Evoking a classic dado, two types of ceramic tile appear on the powder room wall.
a guest bedroom with rose-colored walls a guest bedroom with rose-colored walls
Patricia Urquiola’s Triple Slinkie rug softens the oak floor planks in the adjoining bedroom.
a guest room bath with marble wallsa guest room bath with marble walls
Astro Tacoma sconces light a guest room bath.
Art deco-inspired stripes of marble tile on the wall and floor of a guest room bathArt deco-inspired stripes of marble tile on the wall and floor of a guest room bath
Art deco–inspired stripes of marble tile cover its wall and floor.

project team

designled: sarah drumm.

project sources

from front

varier: maroon chair (sitting room).

e15: side table.

sovet: coffee table.

rockett st george: sconces.

roche bobois: gold chair, sofa (sitting room), throw (main bedroom).

floor story: rugs (sitting room, study, main bedroom).

through april and the bear: vases (sitting room), lamp (entry hall), pendant fixture (bedroom).

ca design: chair (study).

through acquired: desk (study), nightstands (main bedroom), sideboard (entry hall). hay: stools (kitchen).

rothfels: pendant fixture.

jonathan williams kitchens: custom cabinetry.

tecnografica: wallpaper (entry hall).

doherty flooring: parquet.

zoffany: chaise lounge fabric.

&tradition: side table.

mullan lighting: chandelier.

hartô: pendant fixture (main bedroom).

through vinterior: vanity.

oliver bonas: mirror.

marks & spencer: stool.

through etsy: shelves.

linwood fabric company: bed fabric (bedrooms).

fossil stone specialist: wall tile (powder room).

dusk lighting: sconces (bathrooms).

lusso stone: vanities.

drench: sink fittings.

italian tile & stone: floor tile.

feathr: wallpaper (dressing room).

love your home: bed (bedroom).

west elm: nightstand.

cc-tapis: rug.

throughout

farrow & ball; fired earth: paint.