Julie O'Neill and her husband Derry open up about how they achieved the extension they desired and opened up their kitchen space
Clients: Julie O'Neill and husband Derry
What: 1970s four-bedroom semi in south Co Dublin
Architect: Michael Pike, of GKMP Architects.
Contractor: Eugene O'Brien Construction
Completion time: Early June to the end of October
The Brief: Julie and Derry, who are both keen cooks, wanted to extend their kitchen space. On the wish list was a good island cooking space with a gas hob for using a wok, and an induction hob; easy access to cookbooks and space for friends and family to sit and chat; and a walk-in pantry with all the ingredients easily accessible. They also wanted to improve the light into the rear of the house, add a space for their grandchildren to play, and they were keen that their existing dining table and chairs be included in the redesign.
The works: The design opens up the ground floor so they can move freely through the living, dining and kitchen areas. It includes storage space for toys, a pantry and new utility room. The house was extended and orientated to have views down the south-facing garden. This room has two concrete beams, one internal and one external. Between the beams, a folding screen of iroko-framed sliding windows separates the internal cooking/dining space and the external cooking/dining space.
Two roof lights bring light down where the extension and the existing house meet. Another roof light is over the dining table. The white terrazzo floor runs throughout and also bounces light deep into the plan. The washed concrete terrace is partially sheltered by an overhanging roof, while the external concrete beam is deliberately oversized to create a down stand that protects the interior from the high summer sun. The downstairs WC was converted into a wet room.
What Julie says: "If you're working with a good architect, don't tell them how to design. Tell them what you need from it."
On space: "It feels like a large space but you don't feel lost because the angles make it feel cosy. Michael encouraged us to keep finishes neutral very deliberately. He said you can always add a splash of colour but neutrals will make the most of the space.
"There is not an inch of wasted space. Even in the hallway there's a seat with two pull-out drawers for our grandchildren's toys. They can put their toys away when they leave and it can look like a grown-up home again."
On budget: "Decide on your budget and, of course, you'll be pushed. But lock it down at the outset and stick to it. We came in on budget. We thought we'd manage the project ourselves and wondered whether we really needed a quality surveyor. But they were so exacting on every detail to get the finish that I think unless you're really skilled, it made all the difference in terms of quality. Once we agreed the budget, it came in on budget, there was no messing from the builder and quality surveyor, who did a good job."
Sources: Terrazzo floors: PJ Ryan Terrazzo and Mosaic Specialist. Kitchen: Kelly Design. Furniture: Bevel Furniture; stools by Ethnicraft