Past to present

Restoring, refurbishing and styling a period property

by Edel Cassidy
Words Dolores O’Donogue

Restoring a period home can be an overwhelming experience and can raise many unexpected issues. Owners are usually mindful of why they chose a period home in the first place, and will want to preserve as many of the original features as possible. Much of the value, interest and satisfaction associated with living in a period building lies in its history and character. However, when setting out a restoration plan, the aim should be to maintain the original style but without having to sacrifice the modern functionality that we all need in our homes today.

While living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and, even in some cases, bathrooms, will not be radically different from the same rooms today, kitchens most definitely are different. The kitchen used to be a very modest and functional room where the servants or the lady of the house prepared meals – without refrigerators, dishwashers or microwaves, and certainly without smart technology. Today the kitchen has become the most important room in the home and is no longer just used for preparing and cooking food. It is where families congregate for meals, entertain guests and is also used for storing all sorts of gadgets and utensils.

Combining a clever restoration to incorporate modern conveniences without interrupting the character of the original design can be a daunting task and is generally best left to an expert, who the owner can trust to be their adviser and partner throughout the process.

Victorian Kitchen Company

The Victorian Kitchen Company, formerly known as the Victorian Salvage and Joinery Company, was founded by Mark McDonagh in 1998. Back in the 1980s, he and his father, Niall McDonagh, set up the Architectural Salvage Company. As his grandfather was also an antique dealer, Mark has the advantage of three generations of knowledge and experience in period restoration.

Mark’s expert knowledge of period buildings, history and furniture-making brought him to set up a service to provide quality period-style joinery, made with integrity by traditional methods, using sustainably sourced woods. Every single piece is uniquely made by hand and with love! A traditionally trained carpenter, he has, in turn, trained his team at the Victorian Kitchen Company to help clients maintain the original character of their homes, fusing seamlessly the old with the new to adapt to the times we live in. This is achieved by combining expert traditional craftsmanship with modern fittings and functionality to make beautiful timeless pieces of furniture to last well into the next century.

The versatile team at the Victorian Kitchen Company, in addition to kitchens, will also design and fit out bathrooms, bedrooms and sitting rooms. They make bespoke wardrobes, bookcases, alcove cabinets, doors and home office furniture, and are experts in finding a creative solution to a design dilemma or tricky space. They have gained a reliable reputation for quality period joinery that won’t break the bank.

Victorian Kitchen Company

Recycling and upcycling are the hottest new trends in interior design, but the concept is nothing new to the Victorian Kitchen Company, who have followed this ethos for over thirty years. Stocks of salvaged vintage flooring and quirky pieces including original antique baths are on display in the showrooms. Mark also considers lighting a very important element that can balance tradition with forward-thinking design and he loves to find and restore antique lighting and bring it back to life. He believes that lighting should stay true to the architectural roots of a period home, but also likes adding in accents that feel modern and fresh.

The company’s title would suggest that their work is confined to period houses, but they welcome work from everywhere and every style of house, from contemporary apartments and new-builds to townhouses and even castles. They are sought after all over the country and have also been contracted for jobs in Britain and Europe.

The Victorian Kitchen Company showroom is in Cloghran, Dublin, conveniently located close to Dublin Airport, and is well worth a visit as there is so much to see from their kitchens to bathrooms, lighting, flooring and exquisite joinery. It is a treasure trove for anyone considering restoring or extending an old house, or fitting out a new-build.

A second showroom has recently opened in Dundalk, Co. Louth. Another must-visit location, it is not just a space showcasing kitchens, but also a place to find unique and unusual furniture, lighting and decorative accessories.

For more information visit

  • ‘Past to present’ is published in Anthology Volume 15. Read more features from this volume or buy it now.
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