Home makeover: ‘We used to rent this house!’

When Aisling Bent was finally ready to put down roots and buy a home, she didn’t expect it to be her current abode…

‘The kitchen island is the hub of the house,’ says Aisling. ‘It tends to be where we all gather during the day. You’ll generally find me here preparing meals and snacks on request for my two little monkeys. It’s also where I go for a quiet moment to relax and drink a cuppa’

My story…

It’s my belief that we didn’t find this house, but rather, it found us. We began renting this property in 2013 and loved our quality of life here.

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The location, Kinsale, is fantastic. It’s one of the most beautiful seaside towns in Ireland and just a stone’s throw from amenities. Plus, the property, which is in a cul-de-sac, is very private and has a spectacular view of the town and marina below.

‘The music corner is our happy place. It’s where Dennis and I hang out once the kids have gone to bed,’ says Aisling. ‘We turned an IKEA Kallax unit on its side and added castors to house our vinyl collection, and framed some of our favourite records for the wall display’
‘The music corner is our happy place. It’s where Dennis and I hang out once the kids have gone to bed,’ says Aisling. ‘We turned an IKEA Kallax unit on its side and added castors to house our vinyl collection, and framed some of our favourite records for the wall display’

So when the house went up for sale in 2015 – while we were still living in it – it was a no-brainer that we’d buy the place that we’d already had so many happy times in. Being so familiar with the property, we put our offer in knowing that it needed a fair amount of work.

The kitchen was smaller than we wanted and the finish on the house was absolutely shocking. But we also knew there was a lot of potential to create our ideal family home. Once our offer was accepted, we began renovating the place room by room.

Welcome to my home…

A bit about me I’m Aisling Bent and I live here with my partner, Dennis Collins, my son, Ailin, three, and daughter, Keena, one. 

Where I live My home is a three-bedroom terrace in Kinsale, County Cork, built 15 years ago. I’ve lived here for six years. 

Aisling Bent

We knocked the kitchen through into the laundry room, which was quite spacious, and had a small extension built to create a comfortable open-plan area and link the kitchen-diner and living room. Most of the walls needed replastering and a lot of the tiling needed replacing too.

Dennis built the coffee table from discarded scaffold planks
Dennis built the coffee table from discarded scaffold planks

We literally took this house back to its bare bones and rebuilt it in our own way. We also built a cabin in the garden that does double duty as a laundry room and office for our printing business, The Print Den. From day one we have made it our mission to utilise every inch of space and make this house work for all of us in every way possible.

'We literally took this house back to its bare bones and rebuilt it in our own way' says Aisling
‘We literally took this house back to its bare bones and rebuilt it in our own way’ says Aisling

Every room, every corner and every nook has been designed in a way that makes our home not only well-functioning and convenient, but also an enjoyable place to be. That said, we’re by no means finished yet…

Kitchen-Diner

‘Before, the kitchen was very dark. It had only one small window and very little counter space. There wasn’t enough room for a decent-sized dining table, so we mostly ate our meals in the living room, which I hated. Now, it’s unrecognisable.

Aisling opted for a sleek, streamlined kitchen to contrast the texture of the exposed brick wall. She chose white quartz worktops, which brings brightness and a modern edge, and oak-effect wood tiles for the floor. ‘Our kitchen shelf is an old scaffold board that actually held up part of the house while we were extending,’ says Aisling
Aisling opted for a sleek, streamlined kitchen to contrast the texture of the exposed brick wall. She chose white quartz worktops, which brings brightness and a modern edge, and oak-effect wood tiles for the floor. ‘Our kitchen shelf is an old scaffold board that actually held up part of the house while we were extending,’ says Aisling

‘It’s still north-facing so naturally fairly dark, but after knocking through to the old laundry room, extending and adding sliding doors and three large windows, it feels like a completely different house.

Extending the rear of the house, and connecting the kitchen to the living room has given the home a more harmonious flow, more light and much more space for the kids to play. And with the black and white boards, the walls look different every day
Extending the rear of the house, and connecting the kitchen to the living room has given the home a more harmonious flow, more light and much more space for the kids to play. And with the black and white boards, the walls look different every day

‘We moved the kitchen to the opposite side of the room, added a large island and plenty of floor-to-ceiling cabinets for storage. I chose sleek, handleless cabinet doors so that the exposed brick could remain the focal point of the kitchen and had them sprayed in Farrow & Ball’s Off-Black. It’s a huge pleasure to prepare and eat meals in our kitchen now.’

Living room

‘The living room used to have double doors leading onto the garden patio, but when we renovated to create the open-plan kitchen and living space, we extended out by 12 feet (3.5 metres) from the old double doors to link the kitchen-diner and living room.

Contrasting colours and patterns really pop against a white background
Contrasting colours and patterns really pop against a white background

‘Now, there’s an archway connecting the living room to the new space, which the children use as a little play area.

A bit more about my home…

What I wanted to change Everything… It was in a sorry state. The plastering was bad and we wanted to extend too.

How I made it my own We reconfigured the ground floor by adding a small extension and relocating the laundry room. Upstairs we built a walk-in wardrobe. I’ve also filled every room with our DIY and upcycling projects so it’s truly personal to us. 

My favourite part The location. We live in one of the most stunning seaside towns in Ireland and have a gorgeous view of the marina.

Aisling Bent

‘We put all the coving in ourselves using polystyrene, which was surprisingly easy once we got the hang of it, and Dennis made some of the furniture himself. He built the coffee table using old scaffold boards and the radiator cover using a pallet, all of which were free.’

Master bedroom

‘When we moved in, the master bedroom was a mass of wardrobes and magnolia. It was very dark, being north-facing, and the excessive furniture didn’t help; it just felt cluttered.

‘I rescued the bedside tables from someone who was throwing them out, so they were completely free,’ Aisling recalls. ‘I sanded them
‘I rescued the bedside tables from someone who was throwing them out, so they were completely free,’ Aisling recalls. ‘I sanded them
down, gave them new handles and painted their feet; now they look great!’

We decided to reduce the size of the neighbouring bedroom to create a walk-in wardrobe that we could access from the master and it instantly made the room feel more spacious.

‘The chest of drawers was a bargain buy from IKEA, which I painted in a deep pink chocolate colour that I love. Then I added new gold handles to make it a bit more me,’ says Aisling
‘The chest of drawers was a bargain buy from IKEA, which I painted in a deep pink chocolate colour that I love. Then I added new gold handles to make it a bit more me,’ says Aisling

We also had to get the wall behind the bed replastered. We loved the look of the dried plaster so much once it was done that we decided to leave it.’

Nursery

‘Previously, this room was bigger and, at the time of moving in and renovating, was a spare room. We built a stud wall behind where the cot is currently situated, slightly reducing its size so that Dennis and I could have a walk-in wardrobe in our bedroom.

The nursery is overflowing with personal touches, from the pallet radiator cover that Dennis made, to the triangle wall decals, each individually cut by Aisling from a roll of vinyl
The nursery is overflowing with personal touches, from the pallet radiator cover that Dennis made, to the triangle wall decals, each individually cut by Aisling from a roll of vinyl

Now, we use this room as a nursery. I cut all of the triangle wall decals myself from a roll of black vinyl I bought online. I also created all of the typography prints in the gallery wall too.’

‘Using my creativity allows me to create the interiors that I want, just as I’ve done in the nursery, and also to keep costs to a minimum,’ Aisling says. ‘I share a lot of my projects and inspirations on my Instagram account, @houseoffourwinds’
‘Using my creativity allows me to create the interiors that I want, just as I’ve done in the nursery, and also to keep costs to a minimum,’ Aisling says. ‘I share a lot of my projects and inspirations on my Instagram account, @houseoffourwinds
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What I learned… 

Renovating and decorating a house is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time and everything will work out fine. Don’t panic buy anything. Wait until you find the perfect pieces or else you’ll end up spending double when you realise you aren’t satisfied with the substitute item. 

It goes without saying, but be very vigilant when hiring contractors. Look through their previous work and get references whenever you can. It’ll save you a lot of time, expense, stress and heartache.

It’s amazing what a bit of upcycling can do. Not just for old furniture, but also scaffolding planks and pallets too!

Aisling Bent