In between leading her architectural practice, teaching and a recent television role, architect Amanda Bone redesigned her modern bungalow, emphasising the visual connections between rooms and with the garden, and filling it with striking art …
“It reminds me of being in Los Angeles, in terms of the house typology, the site, location, privacy, views and the light,” says architect Amanda Bone of her 1990s bungalow in Co Wicklow. She describes moving from Dublin to Wicklow in 2018 as “an experiment” – to be closer to her parents, the mountains and the sea. It’s an experiment that paid dividends during lockdown and she has relished living outside the city.
When Bone moved in, the initial idea was just to upgrade the existing bathrooms and kitchen, redecorate and redesign the garden, “but I ended up only retaining the front and side external wall and most of the existing roof. It made more sense to refurbish the entire house to maximise its potential.” Bone’s aim was to make the layout as efficient and as spacious as possible – prioritising the light, the garden and visual connections throughout the home. In the process Bone also increased its energy rating (from E to B1).
Working with John Ryan, of BuildXJR, she reconfigured the layout to comprise two east-facing bedrooms with a flexible south and west-facing open-plan kitchen, dining and living area. A new brickwork extension was added to provide a second living room, now functioning as a home office, which can be closed off from the other parts of the house by a series of recessed full-height glazed sliding doors.
Architect Amanda Bone. Photography by Ruth Maria Murphy
Describing her aesthetic as “low-key, discreet, timeless, restrained, unobtrusive and minimalist”, Bone used white walls and ceilings, limed oak flooring and flush storage throughout to create the feeling of spaciousness and continuity. It’s the perfect backdrop for Bone’s enviable collection of books, iconic furniture and contemporary art.
Her interest in art was nurtured by her family: “As a child, my dad took me to Rosc ’88 which made a lasting impression, along with the painting “Liffey Suicides” by Irish artist Brian Maguire. Many years later, I fell in love with Maguire’s self-portrait “The Naked Academic” at an exhibition in the Kerlin Gallery. I designed a wall specifically for this painting in a previous home and Brian came to see it. We have since become good friends and I’m now designing his Dublin studio which is a huge honour as well as being an extremely interesting project.”
Bone admits it wasn’t until the start of the pandemic that she had any time to enjoy the house or relax in the garden. No wonder. Bone is a calm, discreet and efficient multitasker who balances multiple roles. She founded Amanda Bone Architects 20 years ago, the practice specialising in domestic and commercial projects as well as in one-off individual homes ranging from contemporary new builds to the conservation and refurbishment of protected structures. The practice is accredited in Conservation at Grade III (RIAI). Bone is fully involved with each project, from inception to completion.
She also teaches at the Dublin School of Architecture where she tutors fourth year students in design. “Teaching is both extremely interesting and very rewarding and a complete contrast to my practice work. It’s great to have the opportunity to work in two completely different environments.”
Bone is also a member of the editorial board of the RIAI House + Design magazine and most recently one of the judges on RTÉ’s Home of the Year series, which concluded recently. Of the latter Bone says, “Architecture is a fantastic profession but it can also be very stressful and laborious so when an opportunity came up to combine what I know with having fun, it was too good to turn down.” Along with gaining access to some beautiful homes, she enjoyed the camaraderie of filming. “I appreciate how much the show brought people together and how it has provided a distraction from everything else that is going on at the moment.”
Bone admits this house is probably not her final one. She would like to build something bigger at some point in the future, when the right site comes along. But she has learned a valuable lesson: the renovation took longer than it might have, due to the demands of her own work. “I have decided that the next time I do this, I am going to organise myself so that I can take time off to work solely on my own home. It will end up being a far more efficient process in the long run.”
A glimpse of the kitchen, designed by Bone and made by Peter Bernard. The sleek cabinetry is painted grey green. The mirrored splashback reflects light. The artwork above the dining table is “Exposed Painting Cadmium Orange” by Callum Innes, which Bone acquired in 2007. The furniture was chosen for its visual lightness: the Tense table by Piergiorgio for MDF Italia is from Minima; the PK1 powder-coated steel chairs by Poul Kjaerholm for Carl Hansen. The limed oak floor by Murdock is used throughout the house.
In the sitting area, the yellow artwork is “Naked Academic” by Brian Maguire, 2006. The Avio sofa is by Piero Lissoni for Knoll. The sliding doors open to the new dual-aspect extension, with its exposed brick walls. The bricks are handmade Birtley Olde English from Ibstock. The “Untitled” artwork is by Clive Wilson and the ceiling pendant by Poul Henningsen for Louis Poulsen.
Bone found the midcentury sideboard in a local charity shop. The mask is from Papua New Guinea, the sculpture “Selfless Hare” by Peter Killeen from Solomon Fine Art.
The toplit kitchen with a narrow seam of mirrored splashback separating upper and lower cabinets.
Bone’s book collection comprises art, music, cars, gardens, fashion, jewellery and travel in addition to architecture. The storage appears to be part of the walls.
A Thonet Writing Desk by Marcel Breuer from Minima.
A Hay Rebar table by Sylvain Willenz from Living Space, Belfast, features a Wastburg Winkel table lamp by Maarten Van Severen from Minima. Above is Brian Maguire’s artwork “War Changes Its Address: Aleppo”.
The master bedroom with mid-century furniture and various artworks by Irish artists.
A door at the end of the kitchen is fully mirrored to reflect the brickwork and planting in the courtyard opposite and to create the impression of a much larger space.
On the brick terrace, a Loop chair by Willy Guhl (first designed in 1954 for Eternit) is made of lightweight reinforced cement fibre, ideal for outdoor use.
Photography by Ruth Maria Murphy
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