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At an average age of 54, buyers in the Lansdowne Place scheme come with plenty of worldly goods but the luxury scheme has engaged interiors expect Sara Cosgrove to help buyers adapt to their new surroundings.

Interior designer Sara Cosgrove knows a thing or two about working with exacting clients. The Mayo native has a varied CV: Helen GreenAllegra Hicks, the Harrods Design Studio and John Rocha are former employers, and she has worked as a designer for the high-end Principal Hotel Group. With a project canvas that runs the gamut from Middle East mansions to Irish stone cottages, she has tackled every sort of design request.

“I had a recent client who texted me a picture of a fireplace from a nightclub in Moscow and said, ‘I love this, can we get one of these?’” smiles Cosgrove.

Cosgrove has recently amassed a number of private clients due to move into the much-talked about Lansdowne Place development in Ballsbridge.

And if you’re in a position to move into Lansdowne Place, there’s a very good chance you’re well used to the finer things in life.

The eye-watering price tags have predictably caused buzz aplenty: in December 2017, it was reported that a penthouse in the development had been sold off the plans for €6.5 million; one of the biggest new-home sales of the year in Ireland. Elsewhere in the 127-unit apartment scheme, bidding has often exceeded €3.5 million.

The Chartered Land scheme, on the former Berkeley Hotel site, is being readied for residents, with the Templeton phase opening in February 2019. Not only is Cosgrove working her magic on two new show apartments, she is working alongside a number of the development’s new residents.

Of working with high-calibre clients, Cosgrove says: “I have a lot of experience, and I think if I was inexperienced, it would be very daunting because you are effectively dealing with people at the absolute top of their game. Their time is very precious: some are happy to let you get on with it, while others prefer to take the more scenic route.”

With the average age of buyers thought to be about 54, Lansdowne Place’s newest residents are already an interesting mix.

Some are young career professionals, others are purchasing a pied-a-terre in Dublin for the week, and many are downsizers.

‘Base in the city’

“A lot of regional buyers from Cork, Limerick or Galway are looking for a base in the city,” reveals Cosgrove. “They might not want to throw the kitchen sink at it design wise, but they will definitely be wanting a home-from-home. Actually, when you’re away, you want the home comforts even more.’

When it comes to design, downsizers in particular pose a unique set of challenges for Cosgrove – oftentimes, they are keen to start entirely afresh.

“These are people who have had the big house and are looking for a change,” she explains. “In essence, they are looking for all the comforts they would have had in their original houses, but just in a more efficient, containable way.

“Some completely embrace the new and sell everything, ready to move in with a couple of pieces of art or a few mementos,” she adds. “Another client will want to bring more of their own stuff but will understand that the new proportions [of the apartment] are different. But most people are looking at a move like this as a real opportunity to de-clutter. In fact, I’m often more emotional than them.

“Some people want to choose everything down to the votives and glasses, but for certain clients it’s merely a question of making the beds, spritzing the rooms with a room spray, as though they are moving into a five-star hotel.”

Many of Lansdowne Place’s future denizens are returning from long stints working abroad in New York or London.

“If you’ve lived there, you are already pretty adept at apartment living,” says Cosgrove. “Funnily enough, I think there’s a real international consensus at the moment with interiors at this level. Irish people are incredibly well travelled, and are more adept at referencing a hotel they’ve stayed in elsewhere. That’s happening more and more. In Ireland, retail design, hotels and restaurants have really upped the ante, and as a result, Irish people are constantly being exposed to great design, and poor design for that matter. People really know what they like.

Cosgrove’s clients, in the first instance, are offered a choice between a dark or light palette.

‘Getting to know clients’

“I invest a lot of time in the beginning getting to know clients as people, as it’s all about ensuring that their own personality and sensibilities will travel through [to the end result],” she says. “Some people have more of an inclination towards whimsy, but others want a very clean, contemporary aesthetic. Very minimal, very Minotti, very Italian.”

Cosgrove won’t be drawn on the specifics of budgets, but does reveal she sources many bespoke items from France, London, Portugal and Italy.

“We do about 75 per cent one-off pieces, and about 25 per cent off-the-shelf items, although we tend to customise every single item that goes into a project,” she explains.

Lansdowne Place heralds a return to the sort of luxury not seen since boom times, and Cosgrave is mindful to avoid the sort of ostentatious decor accents that became Celtic tiger hallmarks.

“That always scares me,” she laughs. “Sometimes there’s such a thing as an interior being too perfect. It’s not about having the most expensive things.

“We try and future-proof our designs by avoiding too much trendy, loud and crazy stuff,” she says. “By it’s very nature, you want to cycle that stuff out quite quickly. Sometimes, heavily patterned pieces or rugs, while they are fabulous, mean that you can walk into an interior and think ‘this is so 1996’.

“In terms of elevating an interior, people often think it’s about the wow factor, but often it’s just about investing in one great piece of art that serves as a talking point,” adds Cosgrave.

As to her one interiors golden rule: “It’s not the sexy stuff, but I always advise people to spend their money on a sofa, bed and dining room chairs,” she says. “It’s where you spend most of your time, after all.”

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