Interior Design with a Photographer’s Eye: If it Doesn’t Work for the Camera, it Doesn’t Work for the Room, Says Irish Decorator

"Family Turns Historic Stable Yard into a Home While Restoring Burtown House"

Living in a space can make it feel like a home, and that’s exactly what James Fennell and his family did when they lived in the Stable Yard for eight years. The Stable Yard is part of the Burtown House estate, which has been in James’ family since its construction in 1710. Growing up in the main house, James returned to the estate years later to find it in disrepair. As a highly regarded interiors photographer, James used his skills to restore the property, including the Stable Yard, which he converted into accommodation.

The Stable Yard has two distinct spaces available for rent: the house, which can sleep up to eight people, and the studio apartment. Both spaces feature beautiful touches that feel straight out of a magazine, such as farmhouse tables made from the estate’s elm and stacks of magazines featuring James’ work. Family touches are also present, including sketches by James’ mother and pieces from his wife Joanna’s family home, like an 18th-century book cabinet.

The furniture in the Stable Yard is a mix of inherited pieces and items purchased overseas. James and his family even built some of the furniture themselves, including all of the beds. Every piece of furniture was specifically chosen or moved to fit certain places in the house, such as the Irish country dresser in the dining room that was bought specifically for that wall.

The attention to detail and functionality of the space is what makes it so special. James spent countless hours in each room, deciding what needed to be done to make it as comfortable and aesthetically pleasing as possible. As a photographer, James likes to observe things from different angles and perspectives. He never sits in the same chair at the same table, and he decorates a room as if he’s about to shoot it. If it doesn’t work for the camera, it doesn’t work for the eye.

The estate is heated by a biomass woodchip system, and almost all the produce served in the Green Barn restaurant is grown on site, making it a sustainable option for travelers. For those looking for a similar experience abroad, the family has recently launched a farmhouse in the Algarve, which is just 20 minutes from Faro airport.

The Stable Yard at Burtown House is a unique and stunning accommodation option in Ireland. With its mix of family history and modern touches, it’s a space that feels like a home away from home.

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