A Beachfront Wicklow Home With Charm
A home by the sea is for most of us a dream scenario. So when Founder of Lamb Design, Emma Lynch, fell upon the seaside holiday home she had spent much of her childhood in, it was a serious case of being in the right place at the right time. The home had been owned by Emma's family twenty years previously and in a lucky twist of fate made its way back to the Lamb family when Emma and her husband purchased it in recent years.
However several decades on, what was a treasure trove of memories in the most picturesque of settings, is also understandably in need of revamp. I recently met with Emma in her newly designed, beachside, family home that is clean, creative and a clear indicator of Emma's natural flare for interior design.
You have a natural flare for design, where do you get your love for design and what prompted you to set up lamb design?
All of my family members enjoy making lovely homes out of their houses, so that runs in the blood to an extent. I was very close to my grandfather, who was really creative and had a great sense of style. For example, one of my most cherished possessions is a small collection of his pottery. Although they are only small jugs, pots and candle holders, their design is simple and timeless, and an inspiration to me. They take pride of place on my side table in my lounge and would definitely be one of the first things I would grab if there was a fire!
I was prompted to set up Lamb Design because I have always adored interiors and had a passion for design and beautiful furniture. I have always enjoyed spending time in interiors shops and would always choose to spend my money on pieces for my home over clothes etc. When I was taking on the job of renovating our home in Brittas Bay, a lot of the furniture came with us from our homes in the states and London. When I tried to source lighting, accessories and special pieces to add character etc. I really struggled to find everything I wanted here in Ireland.
I sourced a lot from Australia and used international online shops and ended up spending a lot on shipping. So it was this that drove me to set up my own interiors and lifestyle store because I saw a big gap in the market for the type of interiors I was sourcing for my home. I am also passionate about Irish design and really hope to bring our Irish craft to other countries and promote it as much as possible. Friends and family also had a hand in the set-up of Lamb as they constantly badgered me about doing something in interiors and really gave me the push and confidence to just go for it!
Your home in beautiful Brittas Bay has been in your family before. What was it about this house that made it so special and brought it back into your family after over two decades?
This house was my family Summer house throughout dad’s and my childhood. My grandparents bought it in the 1950s and had it right up into the late 1990s. It started as their summer house and then they eventually retired to it later in life. Apart from the sea views and access to Jacks Hole Beach, the house is so special to me because of its history.
The whole place has only happy memories for me and my family. There is a memory around every corner, every walk through the garden, the smell of a plant or the sound of a wood pigeon. It has always been my happy place and it is so incredible to see my own children getting to have the same innocent, nature focused childhood I did.
My granny sold the house when my grandfather passed away. We were all devastated but part of me knew it would be back in the family someday. The new owners took great care of it in 1990 and most of the noughties but it became a bit outdated and forgotten from then through to 2015 when we bought it.
We had no contact with the then owners during that period. Then suddenly, in a mix of chance and divine intervention we were miraculously put back in contact. A painter I am forever indebted to ended up being the matchmaker and Inspector Poirot. A cup of tea broke the ice, followed by the swapping of house photos. While it was interesting for all my family and my siblings, I found myself immediately asking whether it was for sale. Given that I was then living on the heart of London and we hadn’t then taken any real steps towards moving home, it was probably a bit fanciful. However, somehow the stars aligned and with a little fate we had the deposit paid and sale agreed within 10 days of the initial meeting.
Taking on a home design project can be daunting and stressful at times, what were the challenges of this project and what advice would you give anyone considering a home renovation/new build project?
The main challenges were delivering on my vision with only myself and our builder to rely on. Thankfully we worked well together and never fell out - although there was plenty of straight talking from both sides. From the outset, I knew what I wanted to achieve in terms of configuration, living space and key priorities (natural light, openings etc). There were no major surprises, other than a spot of dry rot in part of the kitchen area and some extra steel supports were needed to reinforce the new open floor plan.
While it may sound cliche, the main advice I would give anyone before starting a renovation is to add on 30% to the timeline and factor on the possibility of needing the same amount by way of contingency. Lastly, and on a more practical level, I worked particularly hard to have major decisions made and fit-out materials ready so I didn’t impact the builders schedule. I also came to the house daily to check in and help with key decisions that are needed day to day. A house renovation always needs tweaks here and there so it is important to be present as much as possible, otherwise decisions get made quickly without your agreement.
Having spent time in London and the US, what did you pick up and incorporate from previous homes in your current space?
In the US, we lived in a unique part of that country, Arizona, where the scenery and light are quite unique. For most of our time there we lived in a 'condo' which was best described as a glass box in a quasi-botanical garden setting - the designers of the development had put an emphasis on glass and there was a ton of greenery everywhere - hanging over balconies etc. The overall feel inside and out was quite contemporary which wouldn’t normally be my style but I loved all the light and glass and was determined to incorporate that feeling as much as possible into our Brittas Bay home.
In London, it was a more traditional terraced house from the late 1800s, but a great chance to mix old and new, as only the English know how. All these have influenced my home in Brittas Bay as I love to mix old and new, with a hint of quirk and fun to give a real sense of who we are as a family. My pet hate is when a home is too perfect and looks like it is a show house and shows no sign of who lives there. Every house needs a bit of soul to make it a truly unique place to live and call home.
How would you describe the style of your home and what was the look you were hoping to achieve?
I would describe it as Danish contemporary in terms of overall simplicity and emphasis on light/brightness, but with some French (rustic) twists and hints of east-coast US in a few places (think Nantucket/Maine etc). I didn't set out with a specific look in mind, but it came together organically. Above all else, I wanted it to be a fun character filled home that was comfortable and enjoyable to be in.
How would you advise people to identify their own style and plan for the design of their home?
I am a great believer in mood boards and idea walls. Cut outs from various design and interiors magazines are a great way to collate ideas and looks that you love. Then you can stand-back and see your individual style and ideas come to life. Pinterest is also a fantastic way of finding inspiration from others. If you haven’t yet 'pinned', start right now.
What is the best piece of interiors advice you have ever been given?
To start by selecting the couple of things which will matter most and should last - windows, floors and lighting. Get them right and they will set the tone for the rest of the house and everything will flow from there. They are also the elements that are the most amount of hassle to change so its important to make the right decisions and choose quality over low budget choices. Next, the kitchen design, it is really important to get your kitchen aesthetic nailed down early on as it will dictate the style for the rest of the living space and accessories that will follow.
Lamb design came to life at the beginning of 2017, what lies ahead for the remainder of the year and beyond?
To keep growing and expanding our product range and sourcing unique pieces which will be exclusive to the Lamb and Little Lamb collection. Move to new overseas markets by expanding our range and include larger custom pieces. The commitment to locally sourced suppliers and craftspeople will be a constant, particularly in today's world where people are moving away from the short-cycle disposable purchases, towards more sustainable investment pieces which they connect with and cherish.
What is your favourite space in the house?
The open-plan living space, with light on all but one of the sides and the best views. It is also the heart of the action! Cue children.
And if you had to pick a favourite piece in the house, what would it be?
Herringbone hard-wood timber floor. Very nearly broke the budget at the time, but no regrets now. Sets the tone for the whole house when you come through the front door.
SHOP @LAMB DESIGN
For more info click the images above or visit www.lambdesign.ie