Saturday 3 December 2016

house 2016: Tweak your home to suit the changing stages of family life

Ciara Treacy

Published 22/05/2016 | 16:27

'house 2016' at the RDS Dublin. Picture:Mark Condren
'house 2016' at the RDS Dublin. Picture:Mark Condren

There is nothing wrong with tweaking a home to suit the changing stages of family life, one of Ireland's top architects has argued.

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Eva Byrne of Houseology and her husband, who also works as an architect, adapted their homes to suit the needs of their children at different times of their lives.

In 1994 the couple bought their first home, the top floor of a Victorian apartment in Dublin, she explained on the Miele Inspiration Stage of house 2016.

"It was what we could afford at the time," she said during the talk on 'Ages and Stages - designing your home for your family's needs'.

After the arrival of their children, it became clear some changes needed to be made to accommodate their growing household.

"We're both architects, we weren't going to give it up," said Ms Byrne. "We made a few tweaks to the home, we improved the bathroom, we created the space we thought would make the most of our living space.

"We really enjoyed living there.

"I know apartments have their downside but it doesn't have to be a disaster. With all those stairs you think that would be a problem but it wasn't because we could leave the buggies on the ground floor.

"We did miss having a connection with the garden though."

When a site came up with planning permission for two houses, the couple bought the site with friends. From there they developed their open plan house of 140 square metres through their children's primary school stage.

"The house seems bigger but that's because it's open plan and there are partitions where you can close the area at the back. It's all about spacing things out.

"If you're short on space it's always useful to know that kids can share bedrooms. Ours shared until the age of five.

"Being architects we'd always be very flexible about how the space would be used."

Changes made to the home included having two tables, one for dining and the other for projects or colouring, which could be pushed together to seat up to 26 people at occasions.

A courtyard for their dog and a climbing frame which doubled up as a way to air clothes were among other initiatives they came up with.

"In our house, if anything has a second use, we'll find it.

"The house really met our needs in primary school but we realised that we wanted a room where our children could bring their friends when in secondary school."

For more information and tickets to house 2016 visit www.house-event.ie

The solution was to "trash" the house in 2012, in the midst of a rainy summer and poor economic climate. An extension of 23 square metres was added to the top of the house.

"Every time you visit our house it's probably different. Not that it's manic but we're always tweaking it to meet our needs.

"To me the size of a room is no barrier to a room doing what you think it should do," Ms Byrne said at the RDS.

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