When Dublin-based architecture and interior design practice LyonsKelly recommended to their clients that they “do as little as possible” to their newly acquired 19th-century redbrick home, it chimed with the owners’ view that actually their house was pretty perfect and probably would not be enhanced by an oversized glass box or indeed an extension of any kind. So LyonsKelly delivered a series of gentle amendments, transforming the interior by moving the kitchen, amalgamating smaller service rooms into it and beautifying and modernising throughout. The refurbishments had the desired effect, but the requirement for additional space remained.
Suggesting this challenge could be met by creating a separate structure in the garden, architect John Kelly set about working on a scheme that could serve as a guest apartment, an entertaining space with a kitchen for caterers to use, a sitting room for the kids and their friends and their computer games. Taking inspiration for the exterior from Sir John Soane’s Dulwich Picture Gallery and The Royal Hospital Chelsea – both of which combine neoclassical brickwork, arches and soft symmetry – Kelly designed an orangery to occupy the southfacing garden wall and enhance the view from the house, rather than compete with it. He explains his decision to choose this particular type of pavilion: “An orangery is a specific architectural term, a structure designed to keep plants warm over winter with a solid roof and its own heating and water system – it’s not a glorified conservatory. It’s actually a structure that can support living, leisure and work.”
The aim was to make the orangery look like it had always been there: elegant and highly detailed, ornate brickwork was chosen to match the main house, and light from large expanses of glass maximised with the use of steel-frame windows. While the footprint is modest – just 50 sq metres – inside, proportions are generous (the ceiling is almost 4m high). The layout of the main living space includes one full wall of joinery concealing dishwasher, hob, oven, TV and even drawers of file storage so living arrangements are complete. “As our practice integrates architecture and interior design, we are reminded every day that design works best when considered from all the angles – both should get equal billing but so often, one dominates at the expense of the other,” says Kelly.
“Arches are a nice way of creating a contemporary association with the past,” says architect John Kelly of LyonsKelly of his classical orangery design. The low-rise parapet means the slate roof is barely visible; steel-frame doors and windows maximise the light. Voiles are used to soften the effect.
So often garden rooms are under-used, they may lack the warmth, comfort and functionality required for multi-purpose living. “We prioritised all these elements,” says architect John Kelly. “It’s important to make outdoor rooms liveable all year round.”
From the orangery you can see the terrace of the main house; the main living area is an excellent party space and an extra sitting room.
Comforts include a solid oak woodblock floor with underfloor heating; the orangery bedroom is ideal for guests.