A family-owned restaurant with accommodation inside a restored 18th-century farmhouse, the Smugglers Inn can be found just outside the town of Waterville, on the southern end of Ireland’s stunning Wild Atlantic Way. Having been passed down through five generations of the Fogarty-Hunt family, this charming property overlooks a pristine stretch of sandy beach at Ballinskelligs Bay, right next door to the world-renowned Waterville Golf Links.
Drawing its name from the days in the 1700s when locals – prohibited from many forms of trading under British rule – used to smuggle in wine, brandy and gold from overseas, and smuggle out wool and poitín, this building has a colourful, storied history. But when EDIT Design Studio was commissioned to update fifteen of its guest bedrooms in 2020, we found that the lodgings didn’t adequately reflect the property’s inspiring story, or the beauty of its surroundings. We relished the opportunity to create a new vision for the Smugglers Inn, reinventing it as a chic boutique inn by the seaside.
After opening the gourmet restaurant serving fresh local produce and seafood in 1979, the Hunt family added the bedrooms back in 1980. Forty years later, they were in need of substantial structural and maintenance work to bring them up to modern standards. In terms of design, though functional, the spaces were cluttered and lacking in character. We set out to give each of the fifteen bedrooms its own unique identity, introducing a distinctive contemporary flair without compromising on our desire to create spaces that evoke the feeling of a rural Irish beachside escape.
Using bold, fresh patterns, prints and colours, we drew on the landscape and seascape of the rugged North Atlantic as our inspiration. Throughout the property, we focused on a nature-informed palette of deep blues, greens, yellows and corals, balanced with more muted tones of bone and off-white. Round and oval mirrors were selected to catch and reflect the spectacular sea views, and echo the soft curves of the surrounding rolling hills.
To introduce a touch of luxury, we concentrated on lush fabrics and rich textures in furniture and finishings. Each bedroom was fitted with either a tongue-and-groove panelled or large-scale upholstered headboard, specially designed and made for this project. For the rest of the furniture, we blended an eclectic mix of modern off-the-shelf pieces and bespoke joinery designed by EDIT Design Studio, combined with a select few vintage pieces that were existing.
Every bedroom is adjoined by a bright en-suite shower or bathroom. The shower rooms presented one of our biggest design challenges. Some were little bigger than a wardrobe, so cramped they had been receiving complaints from guests. With little space to expand into the footprint of the existing bedrooms, we pushed walls out and installed sliding pocket doors to add extra width and accommodate larger shower trays.
We kept the en-suites simple, using stylish non-slip hexagonal tiles with a marble effect for the floors, and white metro tiles for the walls. Vibrant tongue and groove panelling in keeping with the bedroom colour schemes added a striking splash of colour. Wherever possible, we retained the existing cloakroom basins, and we were even able to save a couple of olive green and a maroon coloured sinks from ending up in the skip. Other sanitary ware and fittings were replaced, while still maintaining a traditional aesthetic that is in keeping with the age and feel of the property.
The renovation journey of the Smugglers Inn was filmed for an upcoming series of “At Your Service” for RTÉ Television.