Looking at how you can maximise your existing footprint can deliver incredible benefits, as Niamh O’Carroll has discovered, with a fantastic two-bedroom annexe now adjoining her home
LOCATION: Glasnevin, Dublin 9
HOMEOWNERS: Niamh O’Carroll and husband Paul
THE PROJECT: The rebuild of an adjoining 42.2 sq m annexe
ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNER: Richard McGrath Architectural Services
BUDGET: Around €200,000
PROJECT COMPLETED: 2019
The self-contained unit adjoining Niamh O’Carroll’s Glasnevin home has a history. The main house belonged to Niamh’s grandparents who bought it in 1928, and from there, the house passed to an aunt and uncle.
The adjoining annexe, originally a garage, was converted into usable space years ago. It ably saw Niamh and her cousins through their college years.
These days, Niamh and her husband Paul own the house and have lived here with their three teenagers, Cian, Tara and Barry, for the past 20 years.
The garage annexe remains in her aunt’s ownership and recently, the whole family decided an upgrade was past due.
Anyone with a house that has a similar footprint or a garden with some extra space, will recognise that the idea that you could potentially add another smaller home alongside your own – for a family member or for rental – is timely, given Ireland, and particularly Dublin’s, housing crisis.
“The option to turn a garage into a modern two-bedroom apartment, in your own community, might work well for some older people, or alternatively would be a great starter home for younger people,” Niamh agrees.
The catalyst for the project was the discovery of a bathroom leak in the unit. “There was a desire to upgrade it, so from there we started with a wish list – proper insulation, an extra bedroom, a downstairs loo, a low-maintenance garden – and then suddenly, we had a project,” she says.
To bring the unit up to standard, it underwent a major remodel which saw the renovation of the existing two-story structure, with the creation of a second bedroom, a downstairs toilet, utility room and a mini boot room.
Now, the results speak for themselves. Combining clever space-saving solutions with sleek and modern design, Niamh has utilised every inch of this small footprint, without it feeling cluttered or overdone.
“We found the process a great way of expressing our creativity,” she says. “It’s a really peaceful, welcoming space with every modern convenience. Of course, now I am looking at our own house which needs a refresh,” Niamh smiles.
3 WAYS TO MAXIMISE A SMALL SPACE
- Integrate appliances to fool the eye
Cluttered countertops and cabinets can look messy. Integrate appliances to achieve a sleek, streamlined look and painting the wall cabinets a pale shade helps them to fade into the background
2. Choose furniture with legs
When buying a sofa or bed, consider choosing pieces that have legs off the floor as your eye is drawn to the ground under the furniture so it creates the illusion that the floor space and room is bigger.
3. Use the walls
Space is at a premium in most homes and in this small home of just 44.2 sq m, Niamh has maximised it to its full potential. Using the walls is a trick to try; here, she's created boot room-style storage in the entryway to store cumbersome coats, shoes and boots.
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