Life Home & Garden

Thursday 19 July 2018

Blitzed bungalows - inside the low-rise luxury homes on the market

A little imagination turns single level living into low-rise luxury

The extension at the south Dublin bungalow which Liam Brennan transformed with fellow designer Shane Traynor
The extension at the south Dublin bungalow which Liam Brennan transformed with fellow designer Shane Traynor
The extension is used as an open-plan kitchen/dining room
A large open-plan kitchen/living/dining space and an upper floor were added to 22 Ardagh Drive in Blackrock
The stylish bathroom at 9 Saval Park
9 Saval Park Crescent in Dalkey was redesigned to create a light-filled open-plan home
The sitting/dining room of 9 Saval Park Crescent
The kitchen/dining area at 22 Ardagh Drive in Blackrock
Bungalow extension

Róisín Carabine

The much maligned bungalow has never had it easy.

And for good reason, some might argue. Few words in the vocabulary of Irish architectural typology illicit such strong and extreme emotions as 'bungalow'. They are derided as boring and bland at best and lambasted as a cause of ruination of the rural Irish landscape at worst.

It is a brave architect who takes on such deeply rooted prejudices. Meet Liam Brennan of award-winning, Dublin-based architectural practice Extend. Together with fellow designer Shane Traynor, Brennan has taken bungalows upstairs with radical extensions. The pair recently blitzed a 1930s double-fronted bungalow in south Dublin transforming it into a showstopper that redefines low-rise luxury.

Due to a lack of suitable housing stock there's a renewed interest in older bungalows among buyers who are looking to downsize as well as families with young children. They're attracted by the possibilities of renovation and the practicalities of containing all rooms on a single floor with good access to outdoor space. What's more, older suburban bungalows are often located in desirable neighbourhoods with good-sized plots and excellent nearby services.

The extension is used as an open-plan kitchen/dining room

In Australia and California, single level living is very much a way of life and bungalows are regarded as highly fashionable and bound up with notions of aspirational living and designer sophistication.

In the UK, the 'homogenised boxes' once mocked by Prince Charles are actually regarded as Britain's happiest homes. Such is the growing appeal of the bungalow that ministers are now calling on the government to encourage developers to build more.

While few in Ireland would support such an idea, Brennan argues that existing bungalows are ripe for renovation and can be transformed into special homes with a little imagination. "We've been slow to see their potential in huge part because there's no real point of reference for what is a modern bungalow," he says.

His reinvention of a tired 1930s detached four-bed bungalow in south Dublin into a larger and quite unrecognisable 2,583 sq ft three-bed, while keeping its 'traditional' bungalow facade, is a noteworthy project.

The transformation has involved removing interior walls, reconfiguring the internal layout and adding a striking dark grey, fibre cement-clad cantilevered box extension to the rear with full height glazed units with views of Dublin Bay beyond. Upstairs, a large 14ft9 wide by 6ft7 high, contemporary glazed dormer has created a secondary living space, replacing two former bedrooms and a bathroom.

Bungalow extension

"The existing bungalow was a series of rooms off a narrow corridor with no real relationship to each other, the garden or the views outside," says Brennan. "The brief was to go as uber contemporary as possible with the interior and exterior, whilst being mindful of its location and traditional street scape."

Built for practicality rather than aesthetics, most old-style Irish bungalows are not particularly attractive. But they have huge potential.

"Generally bungalows are quite large and with a bigger garden plot to the side and rear. They also tend to be built beside other bungalows so there is less overlooking and shadowing from neighbouring properties. And because they're on the one level, they offer more flexible design possibilities," says Brennan.

A stylish bungalow on the market is a rare beast - but not quite extinct - and particularly sought after by downsizers. Though not everyone moves into a bungalow when they retire or their children flee the nest.

Simona Doyle has always been a fan of the single storey dwelling. She and her late husband Frank brought up four children in this Dalkey bungalow at 9 Saval Park Crescent, where she has lived for over 40 years.

The stylish bathroom at 9 Saval Park

Elba was a dark and dated, ivy-clad three-bed with a leaky flat roof and granny flat before Doyle transformed it in 2010 into a modern 2,205 sq ft, four-bed, three-bathroom conversion under the guidance of engineer Michael Rogers of Rogers Brassil Associates. It's now for sale through Lisney for €1.6m.

"The potential was always there but unfortunately it wasn't until my husband died that I was able to realise it," says Doyle who was initially attracted by the bungalow's secluded cul-de-sac location and huge wraparound gardens.

The new pitched-roof design has had five internal walls removed and a total of 14 skylights added to create a stunning, light-filled, open-plan home, with separate formal spaces, on 0.2 acres of landscaped gardens by Karl Barnes of Formality in Glasthule.

In nearby Blackrock, 22 Ardagh Drive is another example of a bungalow blitzed by design ingenuity, though its extension and remodel is a lot more sympathetic to the original build.

A large open-plan kitchen/living/dining space and an upper floor were added to 22 Ardagh Drive in Blackrock

"It's a semi-detached, so while we wanted to modernise we were conscious that any exterior alterations fitted in with its adjoining neighbour," says the owners.

Bought in 2009 and rented out as a corporate let since 2011, a rear extension and the creation of an upper floor has more than doubled this former two-bed into an enviable 1,830 sq ft four-bed.

"It was the 110ft back garden that swung it for us," says the owners of the once uninspiring eighties build.

They enlisted the help of architect Jimmy Delahunty of Delahunty & Harley Architects in Dublin 4, who took off the roof and knocked down the whole house except for the outside walls.

Two dormers and a porch have been added to the front and the windows lowered and made larger. A large open-plan kitchen/living/dining space was created at the rear in a new extension that opens out into the garden with 20ft high ceilings pierced with four rooflights to bring light in from every angle.

There are two large double bedrooms in the new upper floor and two smaller doubles at ground level.

It's on the market for €870,000 through Sherry FitzGerald. While for the most part bungalows still remain much maligned, rumours of their demise are somewhat exaggerated. In the right hands these blander builds can be turned inside out to produce something really special.

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