All the right angles in garden room that opens up a new view

Architect Shane Cotter transformed a three-bed home in Swords with a new angular space

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 the idea of rooms has become more important that one big open-plan living space. One Swords couple, both keen horticulturists, wanted more space but something that wasn’t the typical big-box extension tacked onto the back wall of the house.

Shane Cotter of Architectural Farm came up with a garden room idea, that is part-orangery, part-potting shed and that immerses them in the outdoors, where they can enjoy their outside space 365 days a year, whatever the weather.

Its is unusual in that it has a zig-zag shape that was designed to frame views of the greenery, which included two trees that were to fill those frames, he explains. It was also distracted from an existing, funny-shaped internal wall, the result of an earlier garage conversion.

The owners felt a large extension, across the back of the house, would plunge their dining room into darkness. The room to the rear of the house already had double doors leading outside to the west-facing space.

It helped that the couple had already lived in the house for several years and so knew exactly where the light fell and what parts of the garden most intrigued them.

Cotter suggested two large windows, to make the space feel more generous than it actually is. He also put forward the idea of multiple ceiling planes, that slope up and away from the existing ceiling heights, to further open the room up to the sky and make it feel loftier than it is. Simple, hand-rolled natural ibstock brick lends the walls a sense of texture. The choice of champagne-coloured mortar joints that work well with the parquet underfoot. Because the shape of the room was complicated he kept the brick-bond simple.

The back room now has four facades. The garden is stepped up and away from the house so when in the room you feel like you’re in the middle of the green outdoors, Cotter explains.

A secret door conceals a utility room cum potting shed that serves both house and garden. Here laundry is put through its cycles and there are sinks for potting.

In total the space extends to just 33sq m, well under the 40sq m allowed without needing planning permission, but has completely transformed this three-bed semi.

"You want your home to hold you like it is wrapping an arm around you," he explains. "It feels solid but meanders so there are places to naturally position furniture without obstructing the view."