My Vintage Story - Dave O'Brien


Dave outside his stunning Cork home celebrating reaching the final of RTE's Home of The Year...

There can't be many home owners with the brevity and wit to use a grand piano as a kitchen island, but that's exactly what Project Manager and Interior Designer Dave O'Brien aka @newbuildireland has done. His incredible Cork home was a worthy finalist on RTE's Home of the Year, has featured in numerous magazines and gained him an army of devoted Instagram followers.


Dave designed and planned his modern home with meticulous detail. He has a flare for interior design, mixing together different era's of vintage and antique pieces, with effortless ease. He has created a comfortable yet über stylish home which dare I say it, is super cool.


Dave's modern architect designed home in the Cork countryside...

So, I can't help but feel it's a bit of a coup, I've managed to persuade him to tell us his vintage story and share some of his tips and tricks for creating a truly unique, modern home with us. So grab a cuppa dear reader, sit back and immerse yourself in his fabulous home...


Dave's open plan living and dining space is flooded with natural light...

You have some beautiful vintage and antique pieces, when did your love for buying vintage/preloved begin?


My love for vintage/ preloved started from a very young age. My eldest brother, Aiden, brought me to my first antique auction when I was 7 or 8 and from that moment I was completely hooked. I was fascinated by the craftsmanship of older items but mostly I loved the story of where the pieces had come from and who could possibly have owned them.


Dave has a great eye for mixing eras and styles together...

You designed your own home, did you do so, with the idea you wanted to incorporate vintage pieces in to it?


I definitely designed my home with the idea of using vintage/antique pieces of furniture throughout. I have been collecting antique and vintage furniture since I was around 15, regularly going to auctions, car boots, second hand shops and vintage shops. I love period homes, they have instant character and interest from the minute you walk through the door, I wanted to recreate that atmosphere, while staying true to modern architecture. The house itself is very contemporary with polished concrete floors and white walls, the furniture brings the life, colour, warmth, texture and interest to the interiors.


Dave uses vintage pieces and plants to add warmth and atmosphere to his home...

I think a lot of people assume a new build has to be filled with only new and modern furniture. Is there a magic formula for getting the balance right as you’ve done?


I actually think new builds have a little bit of an advantage when it comes introducing vintage pieces, in that, new build homes are usually starting from a very neutral palette with lots of natural light, which allows vintage furniture to really stand out and make a statement. I think the real trick is to buy things you love, I tell clients that trends will come and go but if you really love a piece of furniture you will never get sick of looking at it.


The Grand Piano kitchen island adds such a wow factor...

Your piano kitchen island is such a stunning, statement piece and really adds the wow factor! Where did your inspiration come from?


It was a very spur of the moment purchase around eight years ago, about four years before I went for planning permission! Pieces of furniture of this size just don’t fit in modern sized homes. It was one of those light bulb moments, I thought if it had a duel purpose I could justify the space it would take up. I was the only person to bid on it at the auction and I paid €500. A huge part of buying the piano was to preserve it and give it a new lease of life. I love that guests are drawn to gather around it when they visit. The piano has not been altered besides toughened glass being placed on top to protect it. It was fully tuned last year and we were able to date the piano to c1865. It’s never going to be concert quality but hopefully will be great for a sing song when the lockdowns are finished.


View of Dave's stunning open plan kitchen/living space...

Do you have a favourite piece, one you’d never be without, perhaps sentimental?


I love the chesterfield sofa, it is well-worn piece and brings so much life and colour to the space. It’s also really comfortable.


Dave's Chesterfield Sofa is a much-loved piece, styled with a vintage rug and coffee table......

What are your favourite go-to sources of vintage treasure?


I have several hunting grounds: Antique auctions, car boot sales, charity shops, vintage shops, in Cork we have Mother Jones Flea Market, The Workshop and The Village Hall. During the last year it’s definitely been more Facebook Marketplace, Done Deal and Adverts. Buying vintage or antique is not only great for bargains but also for sustainability. It also allows you to create a completely unique interior in your home.


Dave's modern home making such a statement in the landscape, with the backdrop of that dramatic sky...

You can follow Dave on Instagram at @newbuildireland and to find out more about his interior design and project management services, head to the website https://www.rjobrienbc.ie/interior-design/