In one of the first embassy receptions I attended in Dublin, I met this gorgeous looking, very warm personality. Her first language was Spanish-mine not(in fact, not even the second or third)-but we got along. Not sure if you agree- but I think when you speak to a person for the first time-even for a little while- you know immediately if you are going to like her or him. Well, I liked this lady almost immediately. She was Luz , the wife of the Ambassador of Chile -Leonel Fernando Searle Couve-himself a soft spoken, cultured person.
Luz’s home and the Chile Residence (as Ambassador’s homes are often called) is in Sandycove, a picturesque seaside village on the outskirts of Dublin. It is a Georgian style house, about 150 years old and- the best part, at least in good weather- faces the Irish sea. She told me that it had been full of heavy, ageing furniture–as old embassy homes often are. Since she couldn’t bear to live with it, she had most of it put away in the basement(you can see why I like her– I have done this sort of thing myself time and again!) . Then she and her husband, with his knowledge of antiques, scoured auction houses of Dublin and over three years collected most of what they now have around their house
In Chile she and Leonel have a flat in a village, Concon, by the Pacific, where they go every time they want to relax and be away from the fast paced life in Santiago. So, for them, it is a treat to live all the time in a home near Dublin that is by the sea. And, she says, the sounds of the sea are much softer in Dublin than in Concon. So they love it.
Most rooms have windows through which you see the sea really close by. Because it is a cove the sea is always calm,she says, so even in grey ,rainy weather, she finds it relaxing to just look at it. That is why she calls it her ‘beautiful, private garden.’
Belgium was their very first posting-not counting a couple of others that Leonel served in as a bachelor. Then came Italy, the United States, Ecuador, Brazil , their home, Chile and now Dublin. Four lovely children–three boys and a girl–later, Luz says she loved all the places but is a bit partial to New York for all it had to offer by way of art, music and theatre. Oh, and I am partial to them because they, particularly Leonel, love Indian classical music, especially the style of Pandit Ravi Shankar. Leonel heard Ravi Shankar in a live concert in Santiago in the late 60’s and was hooked for life!
The corridor with a natural limestone floor opens onto the drawing room and dining room on the right and another sitting room on the left. Of course, as you can imagine, all of the rooms on the right have windows facing the sea.
The drawing room in beautiful soft yellow colours, blue accents in Japanese 19th century vases and plates and rugs from Iran –
A collection of green and pink Chinese plates from the 19th century on a wall-
All the rugs they have are fabulous. Some of them in the auction houses were almost hidden under heavy furniture and looked really nondescript and dirty. Leonel, with his eye, spotted, bought, had them cleaned -and there ! They have them on their floors looking fantastic–wish I could tuck one under my arm and carry it away !
The second sitting room with a gorgeous orange and blue rug and a group of ginger jars and tea pot-
Below is Leonel’s favorite(well, almost favorite)piece of furniture, a Victorian mahogany table with a fabulous collection of Japanese plates and vases-
A close up of a functioning alarm clock from the 19th century, actually made in a workshop on Grafton Street, Dublin. It has made many people green with envy when they have heard that it was bought at only 10 Euros at a silent auction ! –
A beautiful grouping of antique silver tea pots, plates and an oil painting in the dining room. Her dining table that was set for four looked classic and beautiful. I have decided to do a separate post on it– my next post.
The gracious Luz (with a collection of Royal Doulton china figurines at the back)- I admire the way she is always beautifully turned out-
Luz and Leonel say that you should go ahead and not be shy to place low bids at auctions. Sometimes you can get real bargains that way. They have bought their antiques from, among other places, at Adam’s( http://www.adams.ie/) and Sheppard’s( http://www.sheppards.ie/) of Dublin.
I have been doing rounds of second hand shops in Dublin-thanks to a wonderful friend,Fayda– now I think I am inspired enough to go and bid really low at at least one auction ! Here, somewhere else or online !
Thank you so much, Luz and Leonel, for sharing your home !
Photos by Debashish
To see more home interiors I have written about- click here