The owners of this SINGLE-STOREY PERIOD VILLA chose an architect-designed reinvention instead of an OVER-SLICK REMODERNISATION …
After Ian and Denise Lynch returned from overseas where they had lived for a number of years, they rented an old house in Ranelagh while they set about finding a property to buy in Dublin. Their rented house so appealed that they asked to meet the architect of its beautiful restoration, Sibeal O’Sullivan. “We met, loved her style and shared her taste and her attitude to design. She ensures that spaces can be truly lived in and enjoyed,” says Denise. “Her portfolio of work was very appealing in that it showed a contemporary style, where the interiors were integral to the overall design scheme.” And thus began a working relationship between client and architect which resulted in this beautiful period conversion that functions brilliantly for family living.
The successful house-search yielded this 19th-century four-bedroom villa on a quiet street in south Dublin. Lived in for more than 40 years by the same family, it occupied a deceptively large footprint, the garden so full of trees that the perimeter was almost indiscernible. “We had a plan in our heads but from the moment Sibeal viewed the site, our thinking on it changed,” says Denise. Sibeal took on the challenge of making a period house on two levels work as conveniently as a new-build. The big challenge was creating natural flow, vitally important to Sibeal’s clients. “You can build a huge extension on to the back of a period house and the rest of the house becomes redundant,” says Denise, “We wanted to actively use all the rooms.”
Specialising in refurbishing and extending, with a strong emphasis on the relationship between the exterior and interior and on the interior design, Sibeal O’Sullivan is a consummate problem-solver. And this includes not just room layout, kitchens, bathrooms and finishes but the design of interior fittings like panelling and furniture. This project presented some specific challenges, the principal one being the very poor visual connection between the house and garden, particularly from the reception rooms at first floor level. Another was where to locate the kitchen. “You want the kitchen to open to the garden,” says Sibeal, “but you also require the reception areas to link with the kitchen. We got permission to re-orientate the stairs and, by creating a double-height opening into a storey-and-a-half high kitchen extension, we created a link between the kitchen and the hall and reception rooms at first floor level.”
The clients appreciated their architect’s careful consideration of every detail that would impact on how well the house would function both now and in the future. “Not only did she know what would work in the short-term, she encouraged us to anticipate future needs.” Rather than incorporate a mews block into the main house, Sibeal could see the wisdom of keeping it separate for when the couple’s three boys become teenagers and would love their own space.
“Sibeal works with a vision in mind,” says Denise. “She said, ‘I am going to give you a house you can walk into’, and she did.” As Denise was expecting her third child at the time, Sibeal narrowed down choices for her clients, delivering moodboards and samples of materials she thought would work best. “I am convinced that no matter how skilled you are, placing a project like this in the hands of a professional will lead to a better outcome,” says Denise.
Images by Barry Murphy
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