In a leafy terrace off Dublin’s South Circular Road, Wendy Crawford – owner of Temple Bar store Scout – has stripped back layers of wallpaper to create a daringly dark yet lively living space in her beautiful three-bed Victorian redbrick…
To give credit where it’s due, the wallpaper stripping wasn’t all Wendy’s doing. Wendy, her husband, musician James Byrne, and Duke the dog moved in two years ago to a house that was “liveable, no problem” but needed insulating, a new bathroom and kitchen, plus fresh plastering throughout.
In the hall, they were greeted by four layers of wallpaper, and lurking in the middle was a plastic that steam just didn’t penetrate. James removed it all by hand; Wendy is still impressed. “He’s off the hook now for at least ten years, as it was such a big job. He doesn’t have to do anything else. We were really keen to have it looking nice, so we both worked quite quickly.”
The house is totally transformed. Out is the bubbled blue wallpaper, and in are gorgeous dark hues of Farrow & Ball. Spot Hague Blue in the living room and bathroom, Downpipe in the bedroom and Plummet across the woodwork. Wendy explains, “It’s a dark house so we thought rather than trying to make it light with light paints – and it just being a bit shadowy – we said we’d embrace the darkness.”
The resulting aesthetic is a mix of dreaming and planning. “I had ideas,” she says. “I knew what I wanted. Once I viewed the house, it just came to me. I didn’t have to think about it too hard. What’s inside did evolve over time but I knew I wanted a dark house, with rich walls, where all my pieces would fit in somehow.”
Flea-market finds surround us, yet it never feels cluttered. “I like stuff, but it is curated. When you’re on the look-out, you do develop a filter. You might go to a market and your mind scans across a hundred things and you see just two things you like. Or maybe it has something to do with my background in retailing. You’re always thinking about what something is sitting beside.”
Things change quite regularly. “I move stuff around a lot. It drives James mad. He’s trying to watch football and I’m moving lamps here and there,” Wendy laughs. Still, he has a pretty good vantage point from the couple’s pre-loved Chesterfield from Fadó Antiques in Phibsborough. “He’s got a steady supply over there!” she grins. “I love our sofa.”
Snug aside, there isn’t a whole lot of new. Wendy admits, “It doesn’t draw me the way older stuff does. I’m warming to it, though. I like how this light wood fits in with all the other bits. I go onto blogs and sites and see these beautiful, pristine, white interiors but I just don’t pick those things out naturally. I admire it and I love it – and I think it’d be lovely to wake up in a white bedroom with white linen and no clutter – but it’s just not me.”