‘The House for Eccentrics’

Mullaghmore House in Co.Tyrone is not at all what you expect, it’s better. I visited this great house as part of the European Heritage weekend, just after visiting Parkanaur Castle earlier in the day. Unlike that sprawling, Jane Austen-esque castle, Mullaghmore House is modest, on more of a human scale, and from the outside, a lot less commanding.

Image used with permission

However once you open the door, the quirky interiors and the personality of Mullaghmores’ owner makes the house fascinating. You are greeted by a Scottish baronial style, wooden clad hallway, which marries well with the little studs and knobs that are also on the libraries original Adams fireplace.Image

Off to the right of the hallway, the library has its own bar, and a bust of Shakespeare, taken from the original terracotta one. Further down the hall and to the left is the Games room, obvious from the huge billiard table that dominates the room, whose wallpaper will be 189 years old this year, this room also has no windows, and leads into the lovely Orangery and Front drawing room.Image

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The Orangery is one of the rooms I’d spend most of my time in if I lived in Mullaghmore House. Glazed on two sides with views out into the garden, it has portions of stained glass window, plenty of chairs to lounge in and read a book, and just something very calming about it, it feels private and secluded, even though it’s completely open to the outside world. I think the dark wood surrounding the windows stops it feeling too open and light, almost anchoring all the glass, and therefore still allowing you to feel definitely inside, private, yet looking out and linked with nature. Full of oddities to keep you interested, it even boasts of housing a taxidermy bird that is now extinct! Besides the stuffed animals, this room is one of my favourites.Image

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The front drawing room is cheery, looking out to the front of the house. An interesting feature in this room is the fireplace, with its rare and unique marble, taken from a freak vein, very hard to ever find again or replaceImage.

The kitchen, towards the back of the house is much less formal that the other rooms, it feels loved and lived in, again, full of little items to keep the eye occupied. I instantly feel in love with the pretty little plates embedded in the wall around the hearth, placed there in 1745. The beams here are left exposed and are made from Oregon timber, and have proven to be a handy place to hang hats!Image

Upstairs, you find a surprising roof light on the top storey, made of stained glass. From such a seemingly un-opposing facade on the front, these touches of grandeur in the house are delightful discoveries. But upstairs, the most impressive room by far is the bathroom. My photos couldn’t do it justice but you can’t help but smile as you enter it. What I noticed first was the colourful bottles that line the tops of the walls the entire way around the room, next you realise that the bath is just in the centre, free standing. I think lying down for a soak in such a big bathroom, in the middle of the room, must feel very expensive! I’d feel like quite the lady of leisure!Image

This Georgian period home is just so quirky, and definitely a lot of that comes down to the owner, who bought it with his dad in the 60’s, restored it, and is an antique collector. As we got our informal tour around the rooms, the owner smoked his pipe, and after telling us of all the celebrities who had visited to take pictures, or who regularly stay, he laughed, ‘It’s the house for eccentrics’, and in the loveliest possible way, I agree. I’m so glad I visited this house, it was just so surprising and every room was different, I’d recommend anyone to visit it, or stay for a night, I think it’d be a lot of fun 🙂 Feel free to comment and let me know what you think!

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Do we need architecture?

I hope the title of this post doesn’t scare anyone into thinking I don’t see the value of architecture! I study architecture, I intend to practice it, I admire and adore it, but this last week, I have been pondering it.

For the past week I have been sorting out my new student house in Belfast, cleaning it, putting up curtains, all that fun stuff, and along with a fellow architecture student  and best friend I visited ikea, obviously haha.

Ikea is mesmerizing. They have whole houses designed in the smallest space, showing you all you need for a kitchen, bedroom, even your garage. You walk along, and come across another strange little abode in the middle of a warehouse, and it looks great. They genuinely look nice, like you could set up residence there immediately. So we buy a few lamps, a side table, coffee table, and fill our rather nasty student accommodation with our things, the nicely designed furniture, the ambient lighting, and suddenly, our bedrooms are lovely places to be in. And it made me wonder, does interior design affect how people experience a space more than architecture does?

When I began to think about this, a lot of my favorite places, are my favorite places because of the stuff in them. The quirky oddities, the interesting posters, the soft candles with the melted wax spilling and collecting on the glass bottle they’ve been stuck on top of. Or even the music of a place can make it dear to your heart. Nothing makes me happier than when I sit down in a cafe or restaurant, and they offer me dainty mismatched china tea cups and saucers. Objects bring life and personality to rooms, can architecture achieve this too and to the same extent?

I know architecture affects how people enjoy space, it can even affect their behavior there. Light can make or break a room, as can circulation space, orientation, scale, materials, but…If you had a truly awful room, with terrible layout, bad light, could a lovingly put together interior fix it? and make you love it? I don’t know the answer to this question! And I know that there are buildings that I adore, purely because of their architecture, the Tugendhat house by Mies van der Rohe being just one of them, this is just one of my many musings! Is architecture just as powerful as interior design? Do they go hand in hand? Could one out-weigh the other? Let me know what you think 🙂