A Stable Home

Converted stable home in Carlow

The journey from an upbringing in an early eighteenth-century manor house in Cranmore, Somerset, to living in a stable block in Co. Carlow is surely a road less travelled, but never one that artist Claudia Roche saw any problem with.


The House:

A former stable block in Co Carlow, converted to a two-bedroom house with open-plan double- height kitchen/dining/living.

The Owners:

Claudia Roche is an artist, husband John Roche is an equine and human chiropractor.

Artist Claudia Roche in her converted stable home.

Claudia Roche, artist.

Living a stable life.

Working within a small existing structure that was very basic and simple, Claudia wanted to retain that feeling of simplicity and spaciousness, but she also wanted to introduce a slightly old-fashioned, nostalgic period feel to remind her of home. The first decision that she made was to use tiling in a soft terracotta throughout the house. ‘One of my first jobs was as a mother’s help in a medieval castle in Umbria’, she says. ‘The advertisement said that they kept horses and you could ride out every day. How could I resist!  The terracotta tiles remind me of my time in Italy, plus they are ideal in a house that has to cope with muddy boots and dog’s paws all day.’ Using them throughout creates an easy flow of space and simplifies the interior.

Converted stable with wood burning stove and sofa, tiled floor.

‘It’s not a large home, but as the ceiling in the open-plan area is high it feels very spacious, and as there are just the two of us we never felt we needed more floor area’, says Claudia. ‘I like simplicity and dislike clutter, which suits an open-plan space.

Would you live in a stable?

Claudia’s attention to detail gives what is basically a large barn scale and character.  She has used a deep skirting throughout, with carefully chosen oak light switches for a period feel, and the lift- latch lathe doors give a farmhouse look to the interiors. ‘I did want an old-fashioned setting for the lovely things that come from my home in Somerset, like the chandelier and the gesso work mirror in the hall,’ she says.

Double height entracne hall

Planning an open-plan space

The open-plan space was the most difficult area to plan, Claudia found.  ‘It is a large space, and I wanted to retain the openness and light, but I didn’t want to see the workings of the kitchen every time I came into the room. The whole area is for living in, I didn’t want the kitchen to dominate’, she says. She decided to eschew high-level wall cupboards and use functional freestanding pieces instead of a built-in kitchen, with a multi-functional island to provide the majority of storage and work surface.  ‘This means that the kitchen blends into the room, I can use some small pieces from Southill House in the mix, and move things around occasionally should I want to’, she says

Old painted dresser in living room

To help make the space feel more intimate, Claudia painted the two sets of facing walls in two different colours, Elephant’s Breath and Skimming Stone from Farrow and Ball; the difference is subtle but gives scale to the room.  ‘I wanted to warm the whole interior up so I started trying out fabrics and accessories in rich tones of mulberry and burgundy, warm tweedy materials, but it wasn’t right’, says Claudia. ‘The colours looked dead in the room.  I finally realized that it didn’t need ‘warm’ it needed ‘bright’ ’.  Claudia switched to bright florals with lots of green leafy patterns to echo the landscape outside and draw it in.

Freestanding island unit with stainless steel effect worktop in coverted stable kitchen.

A relaxed home.

‘My home is very much a country home, we love the surroundings and our animals and we like to be outside as much as possible’ says Claudia. ‘Our home is a comfortable place to withdraw to, we don’t do precious, we like the dogs sitting on the sofas with us, and the covers can be washed. Everything is functional and as long as it is attractive to our eyes that is all that matters.’

Sitting Area

Keeping the sofa backs low helps the flow of space in the sitting area, Claudia had the daybed specially made for the space using a set castors that came from her Grandmother’s house. A wood burning stove ensures a cosy interior, even in the depths of winter.

Charnwood stove from Fenton’s Fires, floor tiles ‘Cotto del Sole from Cotto D’Este in Italy. Cowhide rug from TKMaxx, sofa was existing, plaid lambs wool throw and cushion covers, Avoca. The  Porto Romano  chandelier, and Sanderson Porcelain Garden curtain fabric, are from Collette Ward Interiors.  Wall sconces belonged to Claudia’s parents.   The blue abstract over the sofa and the blue horse artwork are both by Claudia.

Free standing kitchen island in timber with stainless steel worktop


The kitchen is made up of a series of low,  freestanding pieces, most of which came from Claudia’s childhood home, so that it does not dominate the open plan area.

The kitchen island was made in MDF and stainless steel by John’s cousin, and painted in Skimming Stone Estate Eggshell,  the walls are Skimming Stone and Elephant’s Breath Modern Emulsion,  all from Farrow and Ball. Curtain fabric is Sanderson’s Porcelain Garden,  from Collette Ward Interiors, Claudia’s mother painted the snowscape.  Claudia bought the kitchen lights in Poppy Greens Home in Somerset and painted them in Annie Sloan chalk paint, they originally came from an RAF base in Hullavington.

Artist Claudia Roche

Dining table

Claudia cleverly bought two identical dining tables so that she can sit twelve for dinner, the glazed cabinet is full of china. ‘Afternoon tea at my grandmother’s house was a fairy tale, gold lustre teapot and Ainsley china, beautiful home-made cakes, which of course we weren’t allowed to even nibble until we had our brown bread and butter; her tea service is in the cabinetis a lovely reminder .’

 Coach House Brooklyn Oak D Table,  Sanderson Porcelain Garden curtain fabric,both Collette Ward Interiors.  The wall sconces came from Claudia’s parent‘s house, the ladder back chairs were her grandmothers.

Double height entrance hall with stairs and chandelier

Entrance Hall

The woodwork, stairs, bannisters, skirting and doors, are all painted the same colour as the walls in the entrance hall to make it feel more spacious and homogenous.

Walls, String in Modern Emulsion, woodwork, String in Estate Eggshell,  Farrow and Ball. Floor tiles ‘Cotto del Sole’ from Cotto D’Este, The Georgian pedestal table, carver chair, mirror, Italian chandelier and family portaits all came from Southill House, Claudia’s family home. Green painted table lamp and  Native Feather cushion, from Collette Ward Interiors.

Country style bedroom


The starting point for the bedroom scheme was the painting of Venice over the bed; Claudia made the headboard from marine ply bagged with a cover of Venetian Damask pattern fabric and a duvet cut to fit. The whole is removable for cleaning.

Lewis and Wood ‘Venetian Damask’ fabric and  Coach House wardrobes,from Collette Ward Interiors.  The wardrobes are finished in String in Estate Eggshell, Farrow and Ball. . Floor tiles ‘Cotto del Sole’ from Cotto D’Este, blue throw from Avoca.  Double leaf wall light in Ivory with parchment candle shades, Jim Lawrence.

Design Tip from Claudia 

‘One of the most space-saving ideas I came up with was the wall-mounted bedside tables in the bedroom. In a small house, you are always looking for clever ideas, and these tables leave the floor area clear and allow me to access the drawers in the bed. . I made a template in cardboard and had a carpenter make them.’

Websites to visit!

Garden overlooking landscape Carlow Wicklow

The garden is one of the most wonderful things about living here because it was created by my mother who lived with us, and is a constant reminder of her.

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Barbara EganA Stable Home

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