A Photographer's Festive Home

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Dotted with Polaroids and photographs, Doreen’s Kilfeather's home in Sandymount is tactile and playful, with a sense of style that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

It would be fair for a photographer to have some reservations about being on the other side of the camera. But for portrait artist Doreen Kilfeather, it was quite the opposite. “It was really interesting! And it was easy because it wasn’t about me – it was about the house,” she says. “A side of me was absolutely dying to see how Mark [Scott] worked, to see how he used light and how he approached the whole shoot. It was like watching one of your heroes at work.”


Looking around, art is everywhere. Bold and colourful paintings live near documentary-style family portraits, old posters hang out in Hang Tough frames, while Polaroids and drawn-on print-outs from Artifact Uprising are dotted around on dressers, walls and in crates. Art isn’t put up on a pedestal.

Large square prints in the kitchen document family time at the beach. Doreen explains, “Each one has a bit of a story behind it. My son Jamie is just totally at home in the water, and I wanted to bring that out. They remind me of summers away. It’s a bit corny, but it’s nice.”


Summer dreaming carries upstairs to the bathroom, where a Christmas project from a few years ago has found a new home. A mix of iPhone pictures and professional shots have been printed, individually stamped with captions and hung with bull clips. “Originally I had hung them off the staircase garland,” she explains. “People walked into the hall and starting pointing, remembering where and when they were taken. I love that people can connect with something – that you can touch it. It’s beautiful paper.”

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Doreen has lived here almost 20 years, and in that time the house has seen some changes. A “dark and dank patio” was replaced with a kitchen extension, designed by Denis Looby of Sheehan & Barry Architects. “Everyone just gravitates to the kitchen, so it made sense to make it into a big, decent room,” she explains.

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“The reason we got an architect was that the house was quite dark, and Denis has a genius for light and space.” Whenever Doreen presented something cool she’d seen in a hotel, Denis would bring her back to earth. “He was such a lovely influence. He was always that person on my shoulder saying, ‘Don’t design your kids out of your life.’”

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The kitchen is a hard-wearing blend of natural stone and wood, with a sort of restaurant feel. Doreen wanted something that would be improved by kicks and scratches over time. Entertaining at home is a priority. “We love cooking here and having people over. The kitchen is a great party room.”

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For regular readers, the Farrow & Ball Hague Blue in the front rooms may look familiar. Add to that an immaculate Chesterfield from Fadó Antiques in Phibsborough plus a Persian rug and you’ve got a room that somewhat mirrors the home of Scout boutique’s Wendy Crawford, which Doreen shot for an issue of Image Interiors & Living.

She laughs. “I did have the rug before, but I admit the walls and sofa are total Wendy cogs – all I need is the red wig!” It was actually Wendy who encouraged her to embrace dark with some nudges on Instagram. Doreen has no regrets: “Everyone loves it; it’s just so inviting.” With a fire blazing and Christmas scents in the air, you can’t argue with that.

WORDS Amanda Kavanagh  PHOTOGRAPHY Mark Scott