3 weeks ago

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Architect Catherine Crowe redesigned, refurbished and decorated a Victorian villa for her family …

When architect Catherine Crowe designed the double-height addition to the rear of her new home in south county Dublin, she envisaged a full-height tree in the space. It would give shade and privacy, and cleanse the air. It would bring nature indoors, and add drama. Like every other aspect of the eight-month refurbishment and fit-out planned for this double-fronted Victorian villa, Crowe made it happen. “We use indoor trees all the time in office fit-outs, so I thought, why couldn’t I try this in a residential setting?” The leafy Bucida buceras is thriving, its geometrically interesting shape eye-catching. “It’s always a challenge to make a double-height space feel comfortable and intimate both in feeling and acoustically, while making the most of the drama of the space.”

The creation of this dramatic double-height space was key to successfully linking the upper floor of the “upside down” villa with the garden. According to Crowe, co-founder with Lucy Rainey of the award-winning practice, LUCA Architecture, this challenge is foremost when adapting a period house like this. “The best rooms in Victorian villas are on the upper floors but the disadvantage is that they do not have access to the garden,” explains Crowe, “so by designing a mezzanine and stairs that link the kitchen at first floor down to the garden room at ground floor, we create that vital connection.” The original stairs had been moved by previous owners to facilitate the conversion to a number of flats so by reinstating it in the traditional position, by putting in an additional arch and modern steel and glass doors, the visual connection from the period hall to this double-height space is also achieved.

Bearing the scars of years of use as a doctor’s surgery, with flats attached, the garden encroached upon by various additions, the villa required a total rethink. Crowe and her architect husband, Gavin Wheatley decided to consolidate, knocking the extensions and gutting the house to bring it up to current building standards, while keeping the many period features in the interior intact. The couple wanted to arrange the living spaces to better accommodate everyday family life. “We considered every aspect from the outset as to how it would allow each space to flow from the old to the new,” says Crowe. “The overall look is contemporary but the period details are showcased as an integral part of the aesthetic.” Like most families, Crowe’s regards the kitchen as the central living space. She chose Arena Kitchens to create a kitchen that is exquisitely elegant and functional, its contemporary detailing and materials by SieMatic – handle-less cabinetry in graphite and onyx oak and a sleek bronze island – chiming unobtrusively with the period cornicing and fireplace. Throughout, Crowe used the simple language of glass and bespoke joinery with classic pieces of contemporary furniture and modern art to work with the restored period cornicing, original arches and fireplaces.

The contemporary kitchen from Arena Kitchens, with black oak cabinetry, a sleek brushed bronze island and appliances from SieMatic. The pendant light is from Rubn; the stools by Gubi from Minima.

The bronze shelves are by SieMatic at Arena Kitchens.

The view from the kitchen by SieMatic at Arena Kitchens towards the dining mezzanine highlights the marriage of old and new, the contrast of the period details with the black lacquered oak and bronze of the new kitchen.

A frameless glass balcony off the mezzanine dining area allows a full view of the garden and the top of the full-height tree in the garden room below. The dining table is Skovby by Kenneth Hodgins, the chairs by Eames from MJ Flood. The pendant is from Pablo Bola; the track lights by Onok.

The stairs links the mezzanine and kitchen to the garden. The sofa is Arketipo from Bushell Interiors. The Eileen Grey table is from Minima; the track lighting by Onok; planter from Fern Living.

The Bucida Bueras full-height tree, from Universal Floral, is planted in the garden room. The ebony oak cabinetry is by Finedge Joinery. The stone floor is “Belgian Blue” from Stone Solutions. The glazing is a Reynaers system.

In the garden room, the sofa is Arketipo from Bushell Interiors; the coffee table from Minima. The tiles are from Tilestyle.

In the lower hall, usually the darkest part of the house, super-high steel doors allow maximum light to the space, allowing the owners to use it as a gallery with lots of artwork on display. “The bedrooms open to it, says Crowe, “so it’s a very sociable space.”

A view towards the back of the house shows how the Victorian villa is transformed with a double-height space linking the old part of the house with the new.

The period stairs was reinstated in its original position, and a new arch was created with steel doors by Fabco Sanctuary opening to the mezzanine.

The console and steel mirror by LUCA Architecture, were made by Finedge Joinery. The table lamp is from Hicken Lighting.

The master bedroom opens to the garden. The bed is from Bushell Interiors, the curtains by Absolute Interiors; the rocking chair by Eames from MJ Flood.

The downstairs loo with basin and bronze fittings from Waterloo. Tiles are Mutina from Tilestyle.

Photographed by Donal Murray

The contemporary kitchen from Arena Kitchens, with black oak cabinetry, a sleek brushed bronze island and appliances from SieMatic. The pendant light is from Rubn; the stools by Gubi from Minima.

The bronze shelves are by SieMatic at Arena Kitchens.

The view from the kitchen by SieMatic at Arena Kitchens towards the dining mezzanine highlights the marriage of old and new, the contrast of the period details with the black lacquered oak and bronze of the new kitchen.

A frameless glass balcony off the mezzanine dining area allows a full view of the garden and the top of the full-height tree in the garden room below. The dining table is Skovby by Kenneth Hodgins, the chairs by Eames from MJ Flood. The pendant is from Pablo Bola; the track lights by Onok.

The stairs links the mezzanine and kitchen to the garden. The sofa is Arketipo from Bushell Interiors. The Eileen Grey table is from Minima; the track lighting by Onok; planter from Fern Living.

The Bucida Bueras full-height tree, from Universal Floral, is planted in the garden room. The ebony oak cabinetry is by Finedge Joinery. The stone floor is “Belgian Blue” from Stone Solutions. The glazing is a Reynaers system.

In the garden room, the sofa is Arketipo from Bushell Interiors; the coffee table from Minima. The tiles are from Tilestyle.

In the lower hall, usually the darkest part of the house, super-high steel doors allow maximum light to the space, allowing the owners to use it as a gallery with lots of artwork on display. “The bedrooms open to it, says Crowe, “so it’s a very sociable space.”

A view towards the back of the house shows how the Victorian villa is transformed with a double-height space linking the old part of the house with the new.

The period stairs was reinstated in its original position, and a new arch was created with steel doors by Fabco Sanctuary opening to the mezzanine.

The console and steel mirror by LUCA Architecture, were made by Finedge Joinery. The table lamp is from Hicken Lighting.

The master bedroom opens to the garden. The bed is from Bushell Interiors, the curtains by Absolute Interiors; the rocking chair by Eames from MJ Flood.

The downstairs loo with basin and bronze fittings from Waterloo. Tiles are Mutina from Tilestyle.

Photographed by Donal Murray

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