Before/After: Foxrock four-bed gets Hamptons-style makeover

Architect Declan O'Donnell looks at a Foxrock bungalow transformed by open plan interiors and some dramatic exterior improvements

 

Just like clients, all architects are different, with different specialities. Some are contemporary and will challenge your design brief, some are traditional and well connected to the key suppliers and builders needed to achieve a certain aesthetic. Some are cutting-edge design-led practices, and some are none of the above.

There are few practices that can do just about anything, and Optimise Design is one of those. It manages to glide neatly between architecture and interior design with competence and ease, and the projects always look and feel like a comfortable and stylish single home from top to bottom.

This project involved the complete refurbishment and extension of a four-bedroom bungalow, and is a great example of how to take an existing house and really make it your own.

The main brief was to rework the ground floor to create an open-plan kitchen, living and dining space for a young family, with a separate living space to the front of the house.

Open plan livnig is still what everyone wants, but it needs support spaces to allow parents and teenagers alike to break free and have their own space.

The simple but dramatic change to the front elevation isn’t just a face lift, it points to key design changes to the interior that allow the house to function better. A small bay extension to the front allows for a reorganisation of the front sitting room, which is separate to the open plan family room and is so important to get right as it is a critical support to the rest of the house.

The small porch solves the age old problem of small dark hallways with long corridors in bungalows - now a light-filled entrance, that sets the tone for the reimagination of the interior as soon as you walk through the door.

Last but not least, this project went up into the attic, a much under-utilised space that can give back priceless floor area at reasonable cost if the roof allows it. It can also be done as part of a phased project (as was the case here), tackling different parts of the house at different times to best suit your needs, budget or lifestyle.

By adding these three break-out areas, the remainder of the plan could now relax a little, free from the burden of trying to be all things at once.

Once these pieces were in place, it unlocked the floor plan to allow a large reception room be subdivided to create an additional bedroom and separate playroom. All the key functional rooms were placed in the right location to ensure the redesign would cater and allow for the varying needs of a growing family.

Even with the small extensions to the front mentioned earlier there was always a desire to change the look of the house externally as well as internally. This was done using a mix of timber cladding, render – and just as important, colour – to achieve an entirely fresh aesthetic, breathing new life into a familiar traditional form.

The success here is in the marrying of the architecture and the interior design, which reflects the ethos of the practice at large. They genuinely put the client first, and led them in developing their own style and confidence through their own project. There is an accessibility to the design that makes it instantly appealing. The kitchen is contemporary, but with traditional DNA.

There is bold use of colour, tempered with familiar shapes and materials.

Colour, furniture and personality is put at the heart of the scheme, and style is transferred across different genres just enough to provide contrast and interest without losing connectivity. The result is a cohesive, stylish re-invention of a home that most Irish people will be familiar with in one form or another.

For projects such as these, the success often comes down to project management. Juggling between design, costs, procurement, building, materials, problems on site, finishes, supplier issues, delays etc can be overwhelming.

Cracks can appear, and somewhere along the line it is easy to forget what everyone was trying to achieve in the first place. It takes more than just design talent to get to the end of so many projects in such good shape.

Visit RIAI.ie and optimise-design.com

Photographs: Optimise Design

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