Tara Anderson is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s biggest online stars. The hardworking makeup artist, model, influencer and soon to be mum-of-two has built a wonderful life for herself and her growing family, epitomised by this, the forever home that she shares with her husband singer-songwriter Daniel and their 2-yearold son Gene.
VIP Homes was thrilled when Tara invited us in for a look around their beautiful home in North Dublin city, which they moved into last May. As she says herself it is ever-evolving, and even on the day of our shoot, she says she is continuing to plan, get creative and pick up bits and pieces so that the house, like their lives
and their family, will grow with them.
We sit down with Tara to find out about how they found their home, discuss colours, design ideas, and the best advice she has learned throughout the whole buying and renovating process.
Tara, thank you for chatting with us! Tell us the story of finding your forever home?
After we got married and before I was pregnant with Gene, we started thinking about buying a house. So, we opened a savings account and started putting money aside when we could. To be honest I had been looking at daft.ie for about four years before we even could really start viewing properly. Then Gene was born and towards the end of that year I started looking with a view to actually buying a house. I wasn’t looking at the chateaux in France anymore. [laughs] I was looking at houses in Drumcondra which is where I grew up, and where Daniel and I have rented together for the last ten years.
Was it a lengthy process?
Yes. We both loved the area so we were certain on that but even so it took more than a year to find our perfect house. We only wanted an older house, we didn’t want a newer build but a lot of them were very old, like walls falling down kind of old. We did actually go sale agreed a couple of times but for different reasons, things fell through. A lot of people have said to me. “Have you found the interiors, decorating, and renovating stressful?” And I am like… “It was stressful, but nothing was as stressful as finding the house.” It was a very emotional process because we would start to fall in the love with a house, and envision our lives there, and then it would fall through. But thankfully we kept going and found the one.
Do you remember the first time you saw this house?
Yes, and to be honest it was not our style. But you just have to have an imagination. Then we saw the garden…there was an apple tree in the middle of it and my granny always has apple trees in her garden. Suddenly I got so emotional about the apple tree. “Imagine Gene picking apples like I picked apples!” So that was it for us. We put in an offer and with a bit of back and forth, we eventually got it. I remember we brought my family up to look at it… when we got the keys, it was all so lovely, and then everyone turned around to look at me and I was wailing crying. [laughs] I was just so happy.
So it’s definitely your forever home?
Oh definitely. I feel so connected to it. Especially now that we have Gene, you think about it like, “This is where he is going to have his birthdays and Christmases,”so yeah, you feel like this is going to be where we will have our forever memories.
Let’s talk about your kitchen. We love that you went for such rich colours. Tell us how you decided on this?
I just knew from the start that I wanted a dark kitchen. I don’t know if it’s an Irish thing or if it’s just a general thing but you know the way everyone talks you out of dark colours because they think it will make it cold and all this kind of thing. My mum was like “Oh god, please don’t.” [laughs] The guy in Noyeks showed me just a tiny piece of wood that would barely fit the size of your hand, and it was very hard to go by but I just said, “Let’s just get that one.” And we just had to hope for the best. [laughs] For the worktop, I knew I wanted the marble with the big black veins through it too. We were really lucky with how it turned out; it is literally the kitchen of my dreams.
And tell us about the exposed brick wall… was this an original feature?
No, it actually wasn’t but that’s what I wanted it to look like. Because the house is that kind of colour brick on the front and the back… I am about to say something like Dermot Bannon would say… [laughs] but I loved the idea of “bringing the outside in”. In fact, I have heard him say that. So yeah, we found the perfect shade of brick and I remember walking in and seeing it and I was just so happy.
And the rest of it just fell into place?
Yes. We stuck with the warm wood floors. Barefoot Flooring was the best value of all the places I have looked in, and was so nice to deal with. And then, to be honest, we have kind of just been adding to it as we go along ever since. Only last week I went to IKEA and got a few bits and changed something around, so I feel I am always going to be one of those people who does that. If you want to get a few really nice quality, statement pieces, or for interior design guidance, we used Audrey from Estilo Design after I saw some fab bits on her instagram. She’d the best selection of quirky wallpapers and standout items, and I really loved working with her. She actually found and ordered our dining room table for us!
What was the best bit of design advice you received before embarking on this?
Well, for the extension we went to an architect, to Plantech. I didn’t know the logistics of how it would work, I just knew exactly what I wanted it to look like. I knew I really wanted light. In the middle of the kitchen, we have this floor to ceiling window now because he said “to bring more light in, you need to bring it in from the middle of the room” as opposed to just at the end. The kitchen is so bright and light-filled now thanks to his advice, I love it.
And what about the front room?
You’re really spending the most time there in the evenings, so I decorated it with that in mind with dark blue walls. Again, everyone was like “Oh that’s going to be too dark.” but it’s actually perfect for us in the evenings, it doesn’t need to be bright. It’s so moody which I absolutely love.
How do you describe your home and interior style?
It is a bit of a mismatch. The kitchen is very modern in comparison to the rest of the house. In the front room, I have gone for a more traditional look, I kept the original fireplace, and then I have more of the kind of ornate pieces like the mirror and the curtains. It’s very moody!
What is your design process like for ideas?
I literally had folders on my phone and if I saw one tiny thing I liked, I’d save it there. Now when I look back at pictures that I saved… I can see where I went off track for a lot of them but also definitely took plenty of inspiration from them. I suppose once I got one thing in the room, whether a painting or a sofa, I would kind of work off that and tie things into it. I always had a good vision of what I wanted and what I wanted the finished result to look like.
Are there any key pieces that you have bought for the house?
I think the palm tree lamp in the front room. It was probably the first thing I bought and it wasn’t cheap, I was just like “I am buying this lamp because I love it.” It was in the middle of lockdown and I remember coming up to the house on my own, and putting on silk gloves and putting it together… it must have taken three hours but it was some of the nicest few hours of lockdown spent doing something for our new home.
Advice for anyone embarking on a similar renovation project?
For us, we did a full renovation, so we had everything rewired. The positive thing about that is you can decide where light sockets are going to be, where switches are going to be… It sounds like such a boring thing to think about but I have friends who had warned me how important it is to know where you want things to be.
And what about when to move in?
We ended up moving in before it was finished…we didn’t have a choice. It was literally just the kitchen with the couch in it and it was very bare. But it was kind of good to live there before we had bought everything because you very quickly realise your habits and what you need rather than rushing into it.
Some Irish brands you love?
We have a lot of cushions. Daniel is like “If you buy any more cushions I am moving out of the house” [laughs] but Irish company Scatterbox in Navan do really great cushions.
Some interiors shops you love?
The palm tree lamp I was talking about was from an Irish interior website called orianab.com and I adore it. And IKEA of course. I got so many lovely pieces there, their rugs in particular are amazing quality. TKMaxx, Homesense and H&M Home would be my go-tos.
Interview: Elle Gordon
Photography: Evan Doherty
Styling: Megan Fox