Interiorssneak peeks

A Dark & Cozy Cottage in the Northern Ireland Countryside

by Kelli Kehler

Inspiration for designing our spaces can come in all forms, and when Eniko Kirkwood was looking to banish neutral tones from her home, she found her North star in the pages of a magazine. She and husband Michael had just moved into their new-to-them Comber, Northern Ireland home with their beloved labradors, Alfie and Penny. The carpets in the house were the first to go, but the walls took a bit of persuasion on Eniko’s end.

“When we moved into our home all the walls were painted in Magnolia [a cream tone] and the carpets were beige,” Eniko begins. “The first thing we did was replace all the carpets with reclaimed wooden floors. Initially I wanted the house to look like a cottage and that’s the style I started creating, but then one day I was looking through interior magazines and I came across a beautiful home with dark walls and it looked so cozy and decadent — I knew immediately that was the style I wanted. When my husband arrived home from work I told him I was painting the walls black in our snug room. Initially his reaction was ‘no,’ but then I showed him photographs from the magazine and he agreed. I chose a dark blue color and we both loved the result. That’s how my love for dark and cozy rooms started and I never looked back.”

Eniko, an interpreter, is also known for her Instagram feed, @mydarkhome_, where she showcases her knack for styling their home with moody tones and layers of texture. Four years since they bought and moved into their 1891 farmers cottage — “built by the Andrews family (known for designing [the] Titanic)” — the home is both cozy and “atmospheric,” two goals Eniko had when embarking on her design journey. And for those who see the Kirkwoods’ home and wonder, “can I pull off dark walls in my home, too?” Eniko shares this advice: “Take risks and just go for it, walls can always be repainted.” —Kelli 

Photography by Eniko Kirkwood / @mydarkhome_

Image above: Eniko shares more about her cozy and charming home: “Originally it was a farmers cottage, but it was extended 10 years ago by the previous owners. The house has three bedrooms and three reception rooms. The selling point of the house was the location, a 10-minute walk from a small town yet still in the countryside and secluded; houses in the area very rarely come on the market so we got lucky. The house has a large balcony/terrace which overlooks the fields beside us. The garden is large with mature trees.”


The snug room, where it all began with a can of dark paint after Eniko convinced Michael of the power of moody colors.


“My goal was to create a cozy and atmospheric home which we can all enjoy — including our two dogs,” Eniko shares.


In the transition from the snug room to the stairs, Eniko makes a layered display of unique items where others might have left the corner more sparse.


Farrow & Ball’s “Railings” carries a moody vibe from the living room to the hallway.


“What I love most about our home is that I share it with my awesome husband and amazing dogs.” –Eniko Kirkwood


I feel happy and content. Our home is a place where we can all relax.


“The cabinets were painted by me and my mum with paint from the Little Greene paint company in shade ‘Dock Blue.’ The top cabinets were replaced with shelves from IKEA,” Eniko notes.


The home is 140 square meters, or roughly 1,500 square feet. Eniko and Michael’s favorite parts of the home: “The location and the large mature garden.”


“The guest bedroom was painted with Bauwerk lime paint which gives the walls a worn look,” Eniko says of this gorgeous two-tone paint job.


“The drawers are antique pine and we got them secondhand.”


“The bathroom was recently renovated,” Eniko begins. “I used grey metro tiles which I bought on eBay and the floor tiles are from British Ceramic Tile. The freestanding bath, sink and radiator [are] from Victorian Plumbing. The ladder shelves are from Amazon.”


“I painted the walls in our main bedroom [with an] ombré effect. I used three different shades gradually getting lighter and blended them with a wide brush.”


On the other side of the main bedroom, a secondhand wardrobe and pops of brass pair beautifully with the deep green paint color on the wall.


In the main bedroom, a gloomier day creates a whole different take on the ombre paint job.


“I live in Northern Ireland but originally I am from Hungary,” Eniko tells us. “[I’ve] lived in NI since I was 19 and I love it … well, apart from the weather. [I] have been married for four years and me and my husband, Michael Kirkwood, are parents to two labradors, Penny and Alfie who I feature on a regular basis on my Instagram. I love them.”


Michael and Eniko’s two labradors, Penny and Alfie, enjoying a fun day outdoors.


“The favorite memory in our home is the very first day we moved in,” Eniko remembers. “Our labrador Alfie ran around the house and his new large garden which we didn’t have in our previous home. We knew we had arrived in our forever home.”


Eniko and Michael Kirkwood on a trip to San Francisco, CA.


Living Room

Paint color – Farrow & Ball “Railings”
Green sofa – made.com
Artwork – Art.co.uk
Floor lamp – Wayfair
Black and white rug – Laredoute
Chair and small nest of tables – Cult Furniture
Ceiling light – Marks and Spencer
Small black bookcase – Georgian, from a reclamation yard


Cabinet paint – Little Greene “Dock Blue”
Shelves – IKEA


Grey metro tiles – eBay
Floor tiles – British Ceramic Tile
Freestanding bath, sink and radiator – Victorian Plumbing
Ladder shelves – Amazon

Main Bedroom

Dresser and wardrobe – secondhand
Bed – Amazon
Plants – IKEA
Prints – Desenio

Guest Bedroom

Walls – Bauwerk lime paint

Dining Area

Table and chairs – from a reclamation yard (and were featured in Game of Thrones)
Dresser behind the table – painted with Farrow & Ball “Railings”

Snug Room

Small coffee table and leather chair – Laura Ashley
Walls – Painted with Basalt from the Little Greene paint company

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  • Ahhhh…Eniko and Michael have charmed me to the core with the freshness of paint color & technique.
    All of the surroundings speak of cozy comfortable safe & settling. Penny & Alfie are 2 lucky bow -wows!
    They complete the picture of contentment for this darling family of 4. I am inspired.
    Happy trails Kirkwoods!

    • Ah Carol , thank you so much. What a lovely thing to say,it made my day 😁

  • I’ve been reading Design Sponge for years and it is amazing to see a local post! I live in Belfast and have new inspiration for my interior dreams!

  • Love your creativity and boldness
    Congratulations on a beautiful home I’d like to come home to

  • Just beautiful! So cozy and elegant. Are you able to share the colours of Bauwerk Lime Paint that were used?

  • This is so gorgeous! Would love to know the details on that deep green paint color in the main bedroom – don’t see that in sources. Thank you!

  • Oh gosh, I can’t look away from these photos. I jokingly told my husband “Dark, cozy, farmer’s cottage? It’s like they knew I was reading!” Thank you for sharing your beautiful home, I especially love the two-tone and ombre painted walls!

  • I skipped over this post for days, thinking that it would be just another country cottage decorated in a sparse “farm house” style. Boy, was I wrong. YOUR ENTIRE HOME IS STUNNING!!! I LOVE the dark, but calming colors, as well as the boldness in using them throughout your abode. Just when I was about to repaint my entire house in a creamy color- a departure from my typical colorful rooms, you’ve inspired me to consider going in the opposite direction to create that cozy, charming home with bold accessories. Thank you for sharing your home with us.

  • This bathroom is my dream bathroom, holy smokes. I LOVE What was done here, and I love the personal style invoked in this whole house. Don’t get me wrong, I love the farmhouse style, but I am growing weary of the tidal wave of white ship-lap walls paired with white furniture everywhere. For me there is nothing cozier than some rich, deep colour <3 Also, these dogs make me smile so hard!

  • I love these designs, simple but very creative. As a minimalist and an introvert, I prefer few furniture, black and white colors and basically gloomy motif. It’s not that I’m a melancholic person but these designs make me feel more relaxed and at home. This post gives me inspiration in designing the interior of my place.

  • So serene and beautiful. Could you tell me what the paint color is on the dresser in photo 8 (the hallway pic)? Is it the same as the kitchen cabinets? It looks a little lighter, but it could be the lighting. Thanks so much – – I really enjoyed the home tour!