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Daring DIY Modernizes a Century-Old Victorian in Northern Ireland

by Garrett Fleming

Daring DIY Modernizes a Century-Old Victorian in Ireland, Design*Sponge

In their dreams, visual merchandiser Katty Patterson of Hunter’s Bohemia and her husband Marky live in a lovingly-restored farmhouse in the south of France. Its interior is modern – yet bohemian – and wild country sits on either side of it, clutching the home in a tight bear hug. Even better, the house is also near the coast. (This is a dream after all.) One most days, Marky surfs and Katty works on her bestseller to the soundtrack of their two sons’ laughter.

The couple admits this may never become a reality, but luckily they’ve found a community in Belfast, Northern Ireland that isn’t that much different than their make believe one in France. Weekends in Belfast are filled with trips to the nearby coast where paddle boarding and cycling are beloved rituals. And the 100-year-old house they live in today is a varied mix of art and accessories not unlike those in their fantasy maison.

Unfortunately, getting the older home up to snuff wasn’t quite as idyllic of a process as the farmhouse renovation in their dreams. “We arrived to burnt-orange velvet curtains, baby-blue walls and green carpet that stank so badly,” Katty says. Since then, the couple has had to tear down walls, replace nearly every fixture, craft a new kitchen and redecorate the space beyond recognition.

During the redecorating phase specifically, Katty looked to her career as a visual merchandiser for inspiration. Not only has her job taught her how to design on a dime, but it’s shown her how to organize existing decorations into vignettes to create eye-catching new looks. In the dining room, for example, she’s displayed magazines and hats as if for sale. Furthermore, in her and Marky’s bedroom, a well-tended clothing rack makes Katty feel like she’s shopping her own closet when she’s getting ready for the day.

Above all else, Katty’s family has had the greatest impact on the look of the house. Her boys are still quite young, and their rough-and-tumble playdates led Katty to industrial pieces that can take a beating. Industrial doesn’t mean colorless, though. Katty keeps a home that both inspires her children to create and diminishes any disdain for outlandish ideas by leading by example. As you’ll see, she’s taken major risks with some DIY projects: bold tile, huge palm murals, wall-to-wall geometric pattern, etc. You name it, and Katty has tried it. It’s these unique moments, more than anything, that make this Irish home one of the most confident we’ve ever featured. Scroll down to check it out. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Katty Patterson

Image above: “The idea for this surf-inspired guy had been rolling around my head for months until I finally tackled him at the start of [this] year. I like to think of him as a sort of creepy ode to my husband,” Katty says with a wink.

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As you peek around the Patterson family’s home, you’ll notice they aren’t the types to shove stuff into closets. It’s not surprising, as the couple looks to coffee shops and restaurants for inspiration. “Having hats on display and a magazine wall is a nod to all those lifestyle stores that we’ve visited over the years,” they say.

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“We don’t get much time together as a family. The crystal clear waters of Strangford Lough are just 10 minutes from our front door, and [it’s] the perfect spot to cram some restorative outdoor time in with the boys,” Katty shares.

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You’d never guess, but these countertops aren’t actually marble. Katty and Marky have covered white IKEA countertops in printed vinyl paper and saved quite a bit of money in the process.

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Katty bought both the shelving and paint for the kitchen secondhand.

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Katty painted this pattern onto a couple of the kitchen walls in about half an hour. She forced herself to not overthink the design, even after an Instagram poll revealed her followers had mixed reactions to the idea. In the end, the process taught her to trust her gut, and she couldn’t love the results more.

No matter what anyone says, you do you.

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To keep the big TV from distracting from all the wonderful work she’s done to the kitchen’s walls, Katty keeps a screensaver running on it at all times. The move helps it act more like a picture frame than a black box.

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A year ago, the couple painted their “half-heartedly-decorated” bedroom white and pared back its accessories in order to give themselves some time to determine exactly how they wanted to outfit it. They’ve slowly started customizing it with wallpaper and more “considered” decorations.

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Katty has worked in retail as a visual merchandiser for years, so it’s only natural that her clothes would be displayed in such a tidy way.

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The aim of the bathroom’s renovation was to give the couple the feeling of “showering outdoors in a luxe, Balinese resort.” To achieve the look, Katty incorporated abundant greenery as well as natural elements like wood paneling and slate tiles.

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To further make the bathroom feel like it was outside, the couple doubled the ceiling height and installed skylights.

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The couple’s oldest son’s room features many personal touches like a handmade garland and photographs of the backyard’s greenery. The latter was particularly important to Katty. There are few things she finds more important than surrounding her children with plant-life, even if it’s in 2-D form.

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This side of Katty and Marky’s son Milo’s bedroom features a chalkboard wall, the perfect place for little imaginations to bloom.

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Katty admits she isn’t typically one to mix patterns, but she gave herself the freedom to let loose when painting her youngest son’s room. After seeing the results, her husband was so impressed he declared it “the coolest kid’s room… ever.”

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“My favorite thing about our home is seeing our family grow together here.” – Katty Patterson

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The home’s floor plan.

SOURCE LIST

Dining Room
Table – IKEA
Chairs – eBay
Rug – Urban Outfitters

Kitchen
Paint – Little Green “Juniper Ash”
Backsplash – Topps Tiles
Brass flex set – Industville
Industrial factory shelves – Andy Thornton Ltd.
Bolga basket – Wicker and Weft
Industrial cabinet – eBay

Bathroom
Shower tiles – Topps Tiles
Vanity & Mirror – IKEA
Bath – Victorian Plumbing
Towels – Christy
Hanging planter – Hilary & Flo

Katty & Marky’s Room
Linen bedding – Piglet
Velvet cushions – Christy
Wallpaper – 1838 Wallcoverings
Seagrass basket – DUFMOD
Photographic print – Desenio
Side tables – Zara
Bed & mirror – IKEA

Lucas’ Bedroom
Bedding – H&M
Throw – Christy
Shelving unit – IKEA
Seagrass basket – DUFMOD
Wall light – Sostrene Grene

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Comments

  • Great piece Garrett! So much humour and fun, it just makes me homesick for NI.
    Katty I’m from Co. Down originally and live in Provence… and I really do LOVE it here… but if I could teleport myself home more regularly I would! There’s no place like home!
    Ruth x

  • A truly wonderful, living and love-infused place. I adore all the handpainted walls, the clever and fresh combination of ‘cheap and cheerful’ to make it your unique and special home. Love all the plants, painted and real, the bathroom is adorable and practical, the kitchen well thought out – in short: It’s a unique YOURS kingdom.
    Congratulations to it all and the very best to you and your family.
    Kiki in France

    • Ah, bless you — it was originally a bedroom but was renovated as a bathroom before we moved it. The bathroom would have originally been just a cupboard in a house this old and the toilet was outside!! It”s definitely better this way 😂

  • Hi, the title of this article says Ireland but the description indicates that this lovely home is in Northern Ireland. Please note that Ireland and Northern Ireland are two separate countries with a complex past. Both are great countries and should be respected as such. Northern Ireland is not in Ireland; rather, Northern Ireland is a part of the UK. It would be great if you could please update the title to reflect “Daring DIY Modernizes a Century-Old Victorian in NORTHERN Ireland.” Thank you in advance. Go raibh maith agat!

  • Hi Garrett!

    Love the article, especially the Super Steel tap finish is interestingly pleasant. I like how reserved the tap and basin seem in the vastness of the kitchen. Myself personally i would want to draw it as a centrepiece, however, here, with the busyness i guess of the kitchen, its open plan, the tap and basin fit neatly into the picture rather than dominating it!

    What balances out the tap and basin i think is its own platform, the worktop itself has a very clean and seamless look to it, and i guess thats what i see it as. More as a whole rather than individual parts.

    What do you think, was that the mindset applied when approaching the redesign?

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