What would you do if you inherited a rather odd building?
When Ciara Deasy Murphy found herself in this rather unique situation two years ago, it was the beginning of a new obsession that would see her create not one but two modern, stylish homes from a property that might have deterred even the most seasoned builder or developer.
“I inherited this rather large derelict building several years back (The Milk Plant) and spent about two years looking at it, wondering what in the world I was ever going to with it,” Ciara told Yay Cork.
“As anyone in Ireland knows (especially those of us in West Cork) there is a huge and ever-increasing demand for houses both for buying and renting. The more I looked at the building, the more I realised that a lot of the repair was cosmetic – the building itself was pretty rock solid and had so much potential, reroofing and insulating being a must, of course.”
Ciara and her husband Rob Murphy, a photographer, chose an old storeroom on the property, located in Castlefreke, Clonakilty, to transform into a stylish home for themselves and their baby son, Bobby.
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The renovation netted the pair a modern open plan living and dining area, a custom-built kitchen and a spacious family bathroom complete with freestanding tub for a bargain €30,000, in a project they called The Carton Store.
Now the couple has begun renovating a second project on the same property; a 35ft x 35ft space they call The Refrigeration Room. With a kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedroom complete, they hope to continue extending as they need more space in the future.
Ciara began sharing images and updates on her progress on Instagram back in January: “I was thinking of starting an interior design business at the time and thought it would be a great way to start getting myself out there whilst also creating a digital portfolio of my work.” Ciara told Yay Cork.
“I studied art full time for six years, taught it for seven years and have always loved taking photos so I see Instagram as a very fitting tool, like a modern-day creative platform almost where I can converse with other artists and designers from home while minding my toddler, Bobby, it is great.”
“Although Covid has postponed my plans to go ahead with the business, for now, I decided to keep my Instagram page alive and continue building interest and my portfolio for when the day comes.”
The building is not your conventional home, but the challenges of working around a variety of structural issues enticed Ciara even further.
“The building holds many advantages such as high ceilings and a number of different spaces tucked away, yet to be restored,” she says.
The walls inside the milk plant were originally finished with concrete slab: “We liked the look of this so much we decided to just polish off the surface of the concrete to let it shine in its original glory as a backdrop to the new kitchen.” says Ciara.
“It was derelict for 15 or so years when I took it on, so it needed a complete revamp. There was a lot of work to do to get us to where we are. My husband Rob Murphy is a man of many trades as well as being very creative and design-minded so he has done a huge amount of the work along with help from his dad Joe Murphy, who always kindly offers a lending hand.”
Local builder Noel Hennessy has been working on-site too, while Ciara sources materials of interest “respectfully, reusing where possible” and chooses everything design related, from the floor layout to the finishes.
“Naturally, by the nature of the building’s original use, there is an industrial vibe running through it, but I think ‘eclectic’ with hints of contemporary rustic would be a more accurate description.
“I want to include minimalist to the list too as I am always trying to pare back the spaces to their bare minimum, but I do like nice things and home comforts so don’t feel I am entitled to add that to the list just yet!”
Sourcing tips: “My favourite places in Cork to shop at the moment would be RH Vintage Interiors in Rosscarbery, The Vintage Room in Schull and The Old Mill Stores in Connonagh. I’m enjoying looking out for gems in Embellish in Skibbereen and I am really looking forward to checking out House McGrath in the city; I have just started following them on Insta.”
You can follow Ciara’s progress over on Instagram.