Designer’s clever hacks have transformed this Stoneybatter two-bed
15 Kinahan Street, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7
Asking price: €395,000 Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (01) 860 3956
Wesley O’Brien is the go-to designer for tiny home buyers who want to get the very best out of every single square inch.
The interior designer, stager and renovator, is known widely in the business as the ‘Space Man’ because of his ability to open up small homes through clever devices, both visual and mechanical, to ensure absolutely nothing is wasted and therefore maximise the living experience.
So when the owners of 15 Kinahan Street bought the two-bedroom cottage late last year, O’Brien’s skills were in their crosshairs. At just 442 sq ft, this house is less than half the size of an average three-bedroom semi-detached. O’Brien’s remit was to use his magic to make the very most of it in terms of space and to add more light.
The cottage was built at the turn of the last century by the Dublin Artisans Dwelling Company (DADC) to house workers. O’Brien from Cabra, has turned around countless cottages since the 1990s, some of which he’s bought himself, renovated and sold on.
He creates space and adds light through well thought-out hacks and collaborates with builder Luke Hickey of Luke Hickey Design as well as a number of crafters and bespoke joiners to achieve these goals.
No15 had been extended at the back, but was in very bad repair with decaying plaster and broken fixtures and fittings at every turn. “The last owner, an elderly lady, had lived there alone and had no family, so the house had passed to the State,” he explains.
In fact, everything had been left exactly as it was when she died. “Her clothes were hanging in the wardrobe. There was even mouldy food in the kitchen cupboards. It was a little eerie,” says O’Brien.
Originally the cottage had a small porch to the front, which led to the sitting room and then the kitchen and bathroom with small windows at the back and there were two very small bedrooms. O’Brien’s first big step was to change the configuration, to make the best of that small, but private south-facing backyard and its potential for lighting the home throughout.
“I realised the cottage was unlike others on the same street as it was not overlooked,” he says. “The fact that it was also south-facing was a bonus.”
The porch was done away with and some internal walls knocked through and cleared. The bathroom was moved to optimise space, to a slot between the sitting room and the kitchen. Entering the house through the front door, you now walk straight into the sitting room, which has a chimney breast with what looks like exposed brickwork inside. In fact these are brick ‘slips,’ a form of thin brick tile from a company called Outhouse in Santry.
“We decided that we’d create a brick effect because we didn’t install a wood burning-stove,” says O’Brien. “We have this obsession with fire as a form of heat, but this house was warm enough.”
An Italian-style bespoke wooden shelving unit was designed by O’Brien and made by Hickey, to make the most of the space on one side of the chimney breast. Having it ‘float’ off the floor prevents it from dominating the room visually.
The folding blinds on the sash window are from Blinds to Go and take up less space than heavy curtains. The room fits a two-seater couch and an armchair, and is painted light grey, with splashes of yellow and blue in the furnishings. A round mirror from Ikea, above the fireplace alcove, enhances the impression of light and space.
O’Brien stresses that it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money on the interior of a small house. “It’s better to choose tasteful, well-appointed furniture and artwork that suit the size of the room and this can be done cheaply,” he says.
“The towel rail in the bathroom for example is shaped like a tree branch and is much admired by anyone who sees it. In fact it’s from Ikea, cost about €20 and you’d never know.” Under sink storage in a bathroom is another tip, as otherwise it’s wasted space.
In the kitchen, he installed floor-to- ceiling glass doors which not only stream in the light to the new open-plan living space, but can be opened to give the illusion of one room with the patio in summer. The old kitchen was torn out and light grey, bespoke units were added. It has an undermounted ceramic white sink with a brass tap and plenty of counter space as the owners like to cook.
The floor in the kitchen is wooden laminate which O’Brien has used many times and which he says is less likely to buckle than real wood. The skylight in the kitchen was designed with a narrow lid with a little shelf below it. Here a hidden light was added which comes on at night and is reflected by the glass.
Both bedrooms now fit double beds and have storage. The smaller has an orange feature wall, which adds colour, and shelves for storage. This could also be used as an office.
The larger has been visually lifted with elaborate dark grey panelling on the wall behind the bed with built-in bedside tables and lamps.
In the rear yard the walls have been coated in a light grey paint and a trellis was added. Hanging plants, low level up-lights and an elegant Buddha statue create atmosphere. It fits a table and chairs. “The idea was to create a Mediterranean effect here,” says O’Brien. “It’s all about using the available space and making the most of it. I think 15 Kinahan Street does that very well.”
Now it’s for sale and Sherry FitzGerald seeks €395,000.
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