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My Dark Home

Jun 6, 2019

By Melissa Rodwell

Eniko Kirkwood opens her dark haven to Alice Magazine

“Nullus est locus domestica sede jucundior,” opined the philosopher Cicero back in 63 B.C. In case your Latin’s a touch rusty: “There is no place more delightful than one’s own fireside.” More than 2000 years hence, that proclamation needs to be amended: There’s no place more delightful than Eniko Kirkwood’s fireside. (Or her bathtub. Or her gazebo.) Kirkwood is the soul behind of “My Dark Home,” a fabulous dwelling that has become an Instagram sensation with close to 43,000 followers, fodder for envy and imitation. The darkish dwelling is far from Addams Family chic; it’s more a  mashup of dark whimsy with country cottage curios, curated and created by the charming Hungarian-born, Northern Ireland-dwelling Kirkwood. 

Kirkwood, 32, lives with her hubby and two photogenic dogs—Alfie and Penny—in the house that’s darkly glamorous but eminently livable. If the house is her passion, her “day job” is as an interpreter (mostly from English to Hungarian), and thanks to her beautifully photographed IG account, she’s now an influencer who recently began working with some of her favorite brands and designers. ALICE spoke to the designing woman about her not-so-humble abode near Belfast.  

What happened first? Did you find a house and say to yourself, “OMG I have to buy this house and I am going to paint the walls black”!?  Please tell us how it all began.

For five years me and my then-fiancée, Michael, lived in a new-build house on a development and we decided that we wanted to buy a house with a bit of character. We have viewed around 10 houses but nothing stood out. One day when we were on our way to view another house, Michael mentioned that there was a small cottage for sale 10 minutes away from his parents , in a lovely area where he used to play as a child. The house was set in a private lane surrounded by mature trees and a river and as soon as we drove up the lane I said ‘this is it’;  I don’t even need to see the house as I loved the area so much. It was a bonus that the house turned out to be what we were after and a lot more. Obviously the house was very popular and we had to bid for it but in the end we got it and we couldn’t have been happier. It was built by the Andrews family (known for designing Titanic) around 1890.  Originally it was a farmers cottage, however it was extended 10 years ago. When we moved in all the walls were white and magnolia and there were light brown and dark green  carpets everywhere 

What are the specs of your  house? 

The home is roughly 1,500 square feet and it came with a large south-facing mature garden. It has three bedrooms and three reception rooms. It has a big kitchen/dining area, an additional bedroom and bathroom and a large balcony overlooking the garden. The kitchen /dining area, small bathroom, living room and a “snug room with open fire” are located downstairs, and there are three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. 

Lovely and traditional. 

Initially I was trying to go with the “cottage look” and it was fine but a bit boring. Then one day I was flicking through a interior magazine and I fell in love with a room which had dark walls and I knew I had to have a room like that. Thought our “snug” room with an original Victorian fireplace would be the perfect choice. When my husband came home from work I told him I was going to paint the room dark, his reaction was what I expected, a no. I went ahead anyway and painted it dark and he loved it. That was the start of my dark journey. All the painting was done by ourselves and with the help from family members. We have replaced all the carpets with reclaimed wood flooring and painted all the walls and kitchen cabinets. 

I’m wondering about your taste in music and film—Tim Burton, maybe?—and if that informed your aesthetic? 

I love rock music, especially from the ‘80s. Fleetwood Mac, Def Leppard, Queen, Rolling Stones, etc. All the classics. My husband is the same, that’s what we listen to most days at home.- Tim Burton was a great guess. I am a massive fan of horror movies, my favorite genre. I never thought it influenced my style but you might be onto something.. I love TV shows; The Haunting of Hill house, Breaking Bad, Dexter and Game of Thrones are my all-time favorites.

What is your favorite room? 

The living room is our favorite room in the house as it has been transformed from a cottage with magnolia walls into a dark , moody , cocoon like room with dark ceilings and as soon as you enter you just want to sit down and embrace the atmosphere. 

How would you describe your style? 

My style is quite diverse, as I like a bit of everything and that’s why every room in the house has a different style. I love dark and moody interiors; I was inspired by Abigail Ahern and Rockett St George,  both amazing designers. I also love eclectic, Scandi, boho interiors, and it’s safe to say I’m a bit of a maximalist. My taste has changed a lot since I discovered Instagram and created my home account. I have met the most incredible and supportive people and discovered the most gorgeous and inspiring homes. Which is also my downfall. Seeing these beautiful homes I suddenly wanted to change everything in our home. Gradually I did and I love the results. 

Tell me about your shopping habits. 

My favorite places to shops are salvage yards, Gumtree and independent shops mainly online that I discovered through Instagram. I’m a bit obsessed with cushions, candles and plants. I just can’t stop buying them but they just make me happy! I love the jungle feel that all my plants provide. I have loads of cacti’s– faux and real. I was inspired by Abigail Ahern who sells the most amazing faux plants. I love antique pieces of furniture, lights and books. Me and my husband would go to auctions; it’s like going on a treasure hunt. That’s how we found our old gramophone, which we love. My grandma gave me some antiques in the past, my favorites are the oil lamps and an antique coffee grinder. We also have a few paintings from local artist like Dawn Crothers.  I move things around a lot. Storage is an issue, as I love shopping and I change things on a regular basis as my taste changes all the time. I try to sell old furniture before I replace it with a newer model.

Can you ever imagine moving? 

I absolutely adore our home and location, but my dream is to live in a Georgian or Victorian house with large windows and high ceilings one day 

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