Remodelling a contemporary maisonette

By redesigning the interior space of their contemporary maisonette, Leticia Marrero and Eoin Flynn have created a fresh, neutral scheme with continental touches and bright splashes of colour

When Leticia Marrero and Eoin Flynn first viewed their maisonette, it was the large kitchen/dining room and its generous living space with a balcony that most appealed to them.

‘The main reason we bought our home was that the kitchen and living room were not open-plan,’ Leticia explains. ‘I am Spanish, and Spanish homes typically have separate eating and living spaces. An open-plan interior seems to be the fashion in Ireland, but we prefer to confine strong cooking smells to the kitchen.’

However, the decorating style didn’t appeal to Leticia and Eoin, who like simple, modern design combined with neutral shades.

Fact file

The owners: Leticia Marrero and Eoin Flynn, who both work for an accountancy and financial services company, live here

‘It was decorated in various tones of the same colour, which didn’t quite work together,’ Leticia remembers. ‘The kitchen had uninspiring vanilla-coloured units, light wood worktops and magnolia wall paint in a similar shade to the units. The living room fireplace had so many columns we called it Athens, while the timber flooring on the staircase and upstairs bedroom was noisy to walk on.’

It was a similar story in the bathroom, where the wall colours didn’t complement or contrast well with the tiles.

‘We were happy with the property structurally – it offered plenty of potential and we knew that we could transform the interior schemes,’ says Leticia.

The couple looked for ideas in magazines, watched TV makeovers and attended homes exhibitions – they also found inspiration in shops and hotels.

‘Shopping played a big part in our interior design planning. We photographed ideas and products we liked and ordered swatches of paints and fabrics,’ says Leticia.

They decided to tackle the flooring first, choosing red oak for the timber floors in the hallway, stairs and landing, as well as the upstairs bedrooms.

‘However, things didn’t go well for us. When it was delivered there wasn’t enough timber to cover both the upstairs and downstairs spaces,’ says Leticia. ‘To add to our problems, the flooring company told us they had run out of stock of this particular timber and wouldn’t allow us to return the red oak, so we had to choose an alternative red beech flooring for the bedrooms.’

Luckily, the couple were able to keep costs down as their fathers helped them with the renovation work.

‘It was fantastic how much help our families gave us – it made such a difference,’ Leticia remembers. ‘Between them, they put up all the curtains and blinds, and fitted headboards and bathroom shelving.’

Leticia’s mother helped out too, designing and making curtains, blinds and bedspreads herself using fabric sourced from the island of Gran Canaria to create an authentically Spanish design scheme.

The couple tackled the kitchen next. They ripped out the old units and fitted a more contemporary style in white.

‘We also decided against having wooden worktops and replaced them with a hardwearing Silestone work surface in a contrasting dark grey,’ Leticia explains.

The new kitchen scheme, with its palette of black, white and dark grey, has bold touches of orange and red to add interest.

‘We chose white for the overall look,’ says Leticia. ‘We both love white as it has such a fresh, summery feel.’

By introducing a run of cabinets, they created a more practical kitchen layout, with plenty of storage space to keep the room clutter-free.

‘Eoin and I didn’t start out with an overall design scheme for the house – we simply had a few initial ideas, such as creating a continental theme,’ says Leticia.

‘We didn’t want the look to be too feminine, so we chose neutral colours, plain fabrics and stripes to add interest.’

Next, the couple turned their attention to the master bedroom. They wanted to create a stylish boutique hotel look, so they started looking for an elegant yet comfortable bed. They found the perfect design and headboard while on holiday in Belgium.

‘We noticed that the hotel room guide said that guests could buy the towels and bathrobes if they wished, so we asked to buy the bed,’ says Leticia.

The hotel happily agreed to their request, and the couple arranged the transport back to Ireland.

‘It didn’t cost that much to ship home – and it was worth the cost as it was exactly what we had been looking for,’ says Leticia.

The white-painted walls of the bedroom continue the neutral theme of other rooms in the maisonette, but with red highlights to complement the red beech flooring.

The main bathroom was next on the couple’s redesign agenda. They didn’t like its marble-effect tiles and the splashback around the basin, so they ripped everything out except the bathroom suite. The tiles were replaced with a plain design in a contemporary warm beige to complement the mosaic border in burnt orange.

‘We did the same with the en suite, leaving the existing sanitaryware and decorating the space in a calmer, more modern style,’ says Leticia.

The couple decided to tackle the living room last. They ripped out the original fireplace and replaced it with a simpler, more contemporary design, in keeping with their newly decorated light and airy space.

‘A corner sofa was the best choice here, due to the layout of the room and the position of the balcony door – the living space wasn’t big enough for a separate sofa and chairs,’ Leticia explains.

‘We chose a glass coffee table to reflect the light – its size is absolutely perfect for this space,’ she continues.

The couple managed to live on site throughout the renovation project.

‘It was hard work – and very dusty at times – but we were lucky that our families were on hand to help,’ says Leticia. ‘It really feels like home now, with little touches from our families in every room.’


Flooring and tiling£3,300
Painting and decorating£830
Curtains and fabrics£330