Interiorssneak peeks

Uncovering Character in Dublin, Ireland

by Lauren Chorpening Day

Seeing potential and helping something reach its potential are two very different things. It’s easy to appreciate what something can be, but putting the hours and labor into it inspires a whole new level of appreciation and creates something beautiful. Siobhan and Jamie took a risk when they bought this Portobello, Dublin home, but the potential was too great to pass on.

Siobhan Lam, owner of homeware and interior consulting company April and the Bear, and Jamie Hughes, a retail manager, followed a hunch on a vague home listing and it landed them at the door of a house with tons of need and tons of potential. The 1850s house was renovated previously into three separate flats. Siobhan and Jamie decided to transform it back into the home it once was through intense restoration done primarily without the help of professionals. “Once we got the keys, we decided to move into the bedsit upstairs. The plan was we would live upstairs and demolish and then renovate downstairs and then vice versa,” Siobhan says. “The renovation involved a lot — we knocked down walls, replaced doors, removed stairs, knocked down chimneys, plastered ceilings, installed coving, installed new windows and doors and we filled A LOT of skips.” The results are incredible — traditional charm mixed with whimsy. It’s a space that suits them perfectly.

The renovation has slowed down with increased business and wedding planning, but the home is functional, beautiful and very personal. “To be honest, the house is still a work in progress — we’re nearly there, but not quite,” Siobhan says. “The most important thing to us was to create an open, inviting space that we could just relax in and have our friends and families over to. We’re real home birds so creating that kind of home was our top priority.” This home is filled with character, architectural stunners and so much personality — way beyond its original potential. —Lauren

Photography by Mark Scott and Siobhan Lam and originally published in Ireland’s Image Interiors & Living


Living Room
Coffee table – Made.com
Sofa – Hand-me-down from Siobhan’s family
Shelving & lighting – IKEA
Paint – Abstract by Fleetwood
Mirror & Bell jars – April and the Bear
Industrial Trunks – April and the Bear

Dining Room
Table & Wooden Chairs – Hand-me-down from Siobhan’s family
Metal Chairs – Made.com
Pendant lights – The Conrad Shop at Arnotts
Vase & jugs – April and the Bear
Shelving & curtains – IKEA
Skull & prints – April and the Bear

Stools – Secondhand store on Ebay
Kitchen – IKEA
Tiles – Tilestyle, Sandyford
Lights – The Conrad Shop

Coving – The Old Mould, Dublin
Dinosaur head – April and the Bear
Mirrors – IKEA
Raven – April and the Bear

Tabletop – Woodworkers, Dublin
Table legs – IKEA

Cushions & throw – April and the Bear
Bed base – Pallets (thrifted)
Large cushions – IKEA fabric
Washi tape – April and the Bear

Uncovering Character in Dublin, Ireland | Design*Sponge
When they first moved in, the house was decorated almost completely in pine. Siobhan and Jamie's vision to bring character back into the home included tearing down walls and uncovering original elements. "The fireplace was actually hidden behind plasterboard when we first moved in so we stripped it back to reveal it and the original brick wall, and our plumber actually gave us the fireplace surround," says Siobhan. "Thanks, Jimmy!"
Uncovering Character in Dublin, Ireland | Design*Sponge
Siobhan runs a housewares business, April and the Bear, from the upstairs of the home. Her pieces from the store make their appearances briefly throughout the home since she loves to style and restyle often.
Uncovering Character in Dublin, Ireland | Design*Sponge
Just like the living room, the fireplace in the dining room was a surprise to find under layers of plaster. Siobhan and Jamie added patio doors to the dining room to let more light into the space and styled it with traditional, modern and eclectic pieces to make it the bright, interesting home they wanted.
Uncovering Character in Dublin, Ireland | Design*Sponge
"Home bars don't have to be too fancy - we created ours by stacking industrial trunks on top of one another," says Siobhan.
Uncovering Character in Dublin, Ireland | Design*Sponge
"Luckily we like a lot of the same things and so there's no fighting over what art goes where," says Siobhan. "Jamie in particular loves comic books, hence the Batman prints on our art wall, which we surround with typography prints that I design and a faux skull from April and the Bear."
Uncovering Character in Dublin, Ireland | Design*Sponge
"We wanted a light-filled kitchen and so we decided to go for a glossy-white, which we got from IKEA and fitted ourselves. We found the stools online - they were originally from a chemistry lab in a school and still have names of the students scribbled all over them, which we love! Our one indulgence here is the double-door American fridge which Jamie was OBSESSED with getting - it makes ice and serves through the door which is pretty cool," says Siobhan.
Uncovering Character in Dublin, Ireland | Design*Sponge
The framed tea towel is such a fun, unexpected punch to the white, orderly kitchen.
Uncovering Character in Dublin, Ireland | Design*Sponge
Siobhan and Jamie took this from a 1980s pine-filled hallway to an architectural stunner. "The hall is one of my favourite spots, we recently replaced all the coving ourselves (which was one of the hardest things to do!) and painted the ceiling and door black," says Siobhan. "It adds so much drama to the space and really highlights the stained glass above the door and the gold chandelier."
Uncovering Character in Dublin, Ireland | Design*Sponge
The chandelier was found at a secondhand store for just a few dollars. It fits so perfectly with the incredible ceiling.
Uncovering Character in Dublin, Ireland | Design*Sponge
They didn't redo everything they uncovered. Siobhan and Jamie value the character and beauty found in the untouched. "When renovating we uncovered these amazing mottled walls in the hallway, which we've decided to leave bare," says Siobhan.
Uncovering Character in Dublin, Ireland | Design*Sponge
Siobhan and Jamie's home has such a great mix of original character and playfulness. "This is the entryway into the office, which has another stain glass window above; I actually really didn't like this when we first moved in and was determined to take it out, but now I kind of love it," Siobhan says. "The print is one I designed for Jamie's band Wolftrap."
Uncovering Character in Dublin, Ireland | Design*Sponge
"The office overlooks the Grand Canal, which is rather lovely, especially when the swans paddle by. We work around an 8-foot long office table which we made from a large piece of plywood that we painted in blackboard paint," says Siobhan.
Uncovering Character in Dublin, Ireland | Design*Sponge
Siobhan's office for April and the Bear is full of things that intrigue her, "anyone that knows me, knows that I'm obsessed with making moodboards. So I ADORE my mounted moodboards in the office. They are always evolving and changing and are a constant source of inspiration."
Uncovering Character in Dublin, Ireland | Design*Sponge
A washi tape treatment and personal items adorn the wall in their bedroom. Originally the master bedroom was going to occupy the space upstairs, but with April and the Bear growing in size, Siobhan and Jamie have decided to wait on transforming the space into their bedroom.
Uncovering Character in Dublin, Ireland | Design*Sponge
Uncovering Character in Dublin, Ireland | Design*Sponge
Siobhan, Gizmo and Jamie.

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  • Is it weird that what stood out to me the most is the faux-deer head in the fireplace? Such a great, unique combo! The whole place looks lovely.

  • Living in the middle of a renovation can be challenging to one’s sanity. I give these two so much credit for taking this project on and doing an INCREDIBLE job. Just wow! This home is lucky to be loved so well.

  • Love this, and great to see a place from my hometown Dublin on D*S! I used to live on the Grand Canal too, really miss it.
    @Lou, a skip is a large metal box that you hire to fill with builders waste. When it’s full you call the company and they take it away with a special truck ( you can see an example here – http://cheapestskiphiredublin.com/)

  • Love this house! It’s great to see houses from my hometown featured on here.

    PS-Lou, ‘skips’ are what in the US would be called ‘dumpsters’!

  • That mottled wall is amazing. And they seem like such a fun couple. Lucky them for being right on that gorgeous canal!

  • Hi….how do you get washi tape to stick to the wall….I’ve tried to use it several times in my daughters room & it doesn’t stay stuck….love the look….tried to hang my daughters art….the pictures kept falling….seriously.

    • gina

      try lightly cleaning with soap and water if you have a gloss paint on the wall. it may help it adhere, but if you have a high gloss, that coat may prevent it from sticking.


  • Really stunning. She is very talented (and he must have good taste, too).

    Just wanted to point out that all smoke alarms (at least in the US) say NOT to paint them, so if they aren’t aware of that, they might want to rethink what I assume is a painted alarm. It looks great, but I don’t want them to sleep through a fire!!

  • Lovely job. I lived in Mount Pleasant Square for 15 years wish I’d thought of going dark in the hall.

  • Lovely job – i think i recognise this home from an interior design programme / competition, which is currently being Aired on irish tv – is that correct?

  • I’m in Australia and I have the same Tea towel in my kitchen, love it!
    Great house and style, definitely a favorite.

  • Omg, dying! Exactly the same bd card on my mantelpiece in exactly the same position ;-)

  • The fireplace is stunning and so is the frame around it. What a great plumber to give that to them! Using industrial trunks as a bar is one of the most innovative ideas I’ve seen in awhile. Incredible! That hallway…wow…the black ceiling just makes a statement. This place is bold and just really cool. Great work!