Creating more space for your home can be both exciting and daunting. Between choosing an architect, encountering delays and having to compromise, things don’t always run smoothly. Here Vanessa Kilduff, whose beautiful family home features in our November-December issue, shares some tips from her extensive extension experience.
1. Know what you want
We knew we wanted glass, glass, glass. I grew up in a glass house in a forest in Wicklow, so a lot of my inspiration came from that. However, we needed to modify our vision for our site, where there were few trees for shelter from the sun. The style of glass and frame we wanted was inspired by commercial buildings we know in London. Soho House & Co has the coolest hotels and restaurants throughout the world, and their interiors are always edgy and adventurous. Widening our net beyond other houses for inspiration meant we could create the industrial aesthetic we really wanted.
2. Be prepared to compromise
You always have to work with your environment, the building itself and, of course, budget. It’s easy to have an ideal in your head but sometimes you have to bow to practicalities. I always thought I wanted to live in period home, but a period property would have meant compromising on an open plan. They’re also generally more expensive, with lots of hidden costs and surprises!
3. Don’t settle for the first architect you meet
Always meet at least three architects. We gave three architects some simple guidelines and asked each to pitch us their vision for our home. When I saw Catherine from Optimise Design’s plan, it was not what we were expecting at all – but it was exactly what we wanted and needed. On a personal level, we just clicked. She has children herself and knew we wanted a home that was exciting in design, but also a home that is practical for a busy family with young kids.
4. Leave scope for delays
In any big project, there’s a possibility of delays. I can’t stress the importance of a contingency plan enough. I would recommend leaving aside at least 15 per cent of your budget to deal with unforeseen problems. My builders were excellent – they didn’t let me down once – but unforeseen problem can arise, especially with glass. Also, if you are building something a bit different and unique, you won’t know if you will want or need to make adaptations and changes until you’re in the middle of the build.
5. Focus on great finishes
Spend the money where you will spend most of your time in the house. The kitchen was definitely the most important area to me, and the beautiful old wooden wall there was very much out of the budget. I cut back on other places in the house and dug into a little of our contingency money to make it happen – and it was worth it. When you have a large open-plan space, the floor becomes a very important feature. That was a focus for us too. If you are installing a bespoke kitchen, I would recommend meeting a few kitchen designers before you settle on one. My kitchen designer, Robert Mooney, worked with me and his expertise in the layout of a kitchen and how you need it to function was invaluable.
To tour Vanessa’s beautiful home, pick up the November-December issue of Image Interiors & Living, on sale Wednesday November 4.
Interview Amanda Kavanagh. Photography Ruth Maria Murphy.