The owners of this redbrick Edwardian house in Rathgar, Ireland, a suburb of Dublin, had sold their house and were renting the property next door when they realized their dream home had come up for sale. Eager to retain as many of the original features as possible, the owners engaged Stefan Hoeckenreiner of Ambient Architecture to bring the house up to date while preserving its sense of history.
Photos by Barbara Egan
Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here: A couple with two children
Location: Rathgar, Ireland
Size: Four bedrooms, two bathrooms
Architect: Stefan Hoeckenreiner of Ambient Architecture
The increased floor space created in the two-year renovation and addition was fairly minimal as home renovations go. “We haven’t added a huge amount to the footprint of the house,” says Hoeckenreiner, originally from Munich, who set up Ambient Architecture in Ireland in 2003. “Rooms were added but also taken away, so in the end we only increased the floor space by around [100 square feet].”
Even though the addition fell within the permitted development rights, the couple decided to apply for planning permission before going ahead with the project. “The neighbors would have been affected if the boundary wall had been too high,” Hoeckenreiner says, “so we brought down the eaves to allow more light into the neighbor’s side and keep neighborly relations in order.”
While the renovation and addition appeared uncomplicated, designing and managing the project wasn’t always clear sailing. “Some things took longer than expected, such as relining the chimneys, which needed a specialist contractor,” Hoeckenreiner says. “Plus everything had to be carried through the front door, which slowed things down. It wasn’t a standard extension. Everything needed to be in the right sequence and done in the right order.”
It took three large pieces of granite — cut to size and carefully carried through the front door — to cover the hallway floor. The couple visited a stone yard, where they fell in love with this pale-colored granite, which is designed for exterior use but looks perfect in their generous-sized hallway. Painting the walls in a dark shade added contrast to the pale flooring and white-painted paneling.
Granite flooring: Marble & Granite; wall paint: Down Pipe, Farrow & Ball
Details such as the intricate cornicing in the living room and the ornate paneling in the hallway, which was added during the restoration, coexist comfortably with the elegant sofa and large piece of contemporary art. “I like the combination of old and new, but sometimes you need to leave the old as it is,” Hoeckenreiner says.
Chic additions such as the Ercol sofa and marble and brass coffee table ensure the living space feels bright and contemporary. Trench heating is provided by floor vents, a clever idea the couple spotted on a trip to the Netherlands. It’s unobtrusive and also very efficient.
Ercol sofa: Nest; wall paint: Great White, Farrow & Ball
Lime-washed, extra-wide Douglas fir floorboards that run between the living room and TV den help open up the connecting rooms, increasing the feeling of light and space.
Although they’re big fans of period features and properties, the owners wanted the redesign of their three-story home to feel contemporary. The rooms are therefore lightly furnished with modern pieces.
Tweed pillows and herringbone wool throws lend a cozy touch to the TV room, which leads to the new kitchen addition. The floor lamp adds a bold splash of color.
Rug: RugArt; orange Muno lamp: Brown Thomas
The original kitchen was a tiny galley with a flat-roofed addition tacked on the end. The new light and airy kitchen-dining area opens out to the garden via bifold doors, while skylights flood the space with even more light.
Solarlux folding doors: DK Windows & Doors; dining chairs: Piiroinen
Hoeckenreiner wanted to ensure a seamless flow between the indoor and outdoor spaces. “We wanted to create a bright kitchen and dining space with lots of natural light,” he says. They installed glass across the full width of the back wall so the garden became part of the kitchen and dining area.
The owners decided against a bulky kitchen island and instead went for a pair of industrial-style work counters from Bulthaup
. The expanse of floor beneath them increases the feeling of space, while the generous workspace helps keep the kitchen feeling open and uncluttered.
A large bank of gray matte lacquered and handleless cabinets was designed to blend into the background, while white hexagonal tiles and quartz counters help create a design that feels up to date.
Leicht cabinets: McNally
For the flooring, the owners chose a thin layer of polished and sealed concrete, recommended by Hoeckenreiner because it offers a guaranteed color and the thin layer means the underfloor heating works to its best advantage. “With a thick layer of concrete, the underfloor heating would be unresponsive, heating up and cooling down too slowly, which wouldn’t suit a busy family home,” he says.
A new staircase leading down from the living space links the old and new areas of the house. The kitchen is Hoeckenreiner’s favorite part of the redesign. “I like that we were able to introduce more light into the dining space, but also the shape of the roof,” he says. “I feel as if this room is my main contribution to the house.”
On the first floor, Hoeckenreiner devised a generous-sized office with ample storage for the couple’s large collection of books. The space leads to an elegant and well-planned family bathroom.
The owners gave over one of the bedrooms to create this bathroom, roomy enough to house a free-standing tub and a separate shower area.
Wall-hung toilet and sink: Duravit; bathtub: Patricia Urquiola for Agape; marble tiles: Marble & Granite
The combination of Carrara marble tiles with the black bath adds a touch of drama to the pared-back design.
The layout of the first floor, which contains the master bedroom, was largely unchanged.
Preserving original features such as the fireplace and paneled wardrobe helped retain the character of the home, while painting the walls a modern dark gray and laying oak herringbone parquet added warmth to the large space.
Wall paint: Down Pipe, Farrow & Ball
Houses on this street have attic rooms that are original to the properties. These owners use theirs as a comfy and spacious retreat for guests.
The exterior of the house, which was built in 1905, is typical of Dublin’s Rathgar area. Painting the front door in a dark eggshell finish added a contemporary feel.
via Houzz Tour: In Ireland, an Edwardian House Gets an Elegant Revamp