x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Clever contrast

Thoughtful use of black in an apartment creates a chic and deceptively spacious entertaining space.

The warm wood coffee table with silver center piece in front of the sofa helps to add warmth to the livingroom.
Photo: Eamon McAfee
The warm wood coffee table with silver center piece in front of the sofa helps to add warmth to the livingroom. Photo: Eamon McAfee

After years of renting, Kathryn Wilson, a graphic designer from Dublin, was keen to get on to the first rung of the property ladder. Initially dreaming of renovating a quaint little artisan cottage, modern apartment blocks had never been of interest but when this penthouse came on the market in one of the city's most ancient quarters, she was intrigued.

The initial viewing didn't blow her away but after exploring her options, she soon realised it potential. Buying the apartment from new has allowed Kathryn to put her individual stamp on the interior to create a unique and interesting home. "I was led by the small elements here. I didn't have much space, so the interior design was dictated by the space. Although compact, it has a lovely bright and airy feel. Thankfully the windows are large and there's a skylight in the guest bedroom so lots of natural light filters through." Keen to make the most of the light, Kathryn has painted the walls in varying shades of white or light tones such as pale blue in the guest room. Except of course in the kitchen, where she's chosen black. "My friends thought I was mad. When I said I was choosing black for the walls in the kitchen and dining area, they thought I was going Gothic! I love it, though; I think it actually warms up the room and gives a nice contrast to the kitchen cupboards."

Around the time of buying the apartment, Kathryn visited Amsterdam and Reykjavik and was inspired by the interior design in these cities. "Not all of the buildings were beautiful but the interiors were so inspiring; not too modern or traditional, just a really lovely easy, casual style so this has really inspired my scheme." Not intentionally planning a monochrome theme, Kathyrn has chosen pieces she loves and found a way of working them in. Not wanting to waste money, she's used her natural creativity, buying pieces that she could reinvent to suit her space. Some of her favourite items were collected before she even moved in. A keen photographer, she's made the most of an old SLR camera from her university days to take photos of her travels as well as in and around Dublin, framing many of these as black and white prints in dark frames as a contrast to the walls. "The black and white theme just kind of happened. I used to think it would look stark but the mix of woods adds warmth.' Books, storage boxes, shelving and interesting wall art makes this interior busy and interesting, reflecting Kathryn's personality and style.

A solid oak floor runs throughout the hallway and open plan kitchen / living / dining space, while neutral carpet features in the bedrooms for a more cosy feel. Although Kathryn thought she would like a dark walnut floor, the oak turned out to be the better option, reflecting the light and contrasting against her furnishings. Even though she doesn't plan to stay here forever, Kathryn has chosen her furniture wisely and, with her creative touch, she will be able to work her treasured items into any other scheme in the future. Now well and truly on the property ladder, Kathryn has created her own little piece of heaven in the city.