With extensions as popular as ever, interior designer Roisin Lafferty shares her expert knowledge and details the most important things to consider when expanding the homestead…
In our brand new May-June issue, Dublin-based interior designer Roisin Lafferty works her magic on a stunning Dublin family home, seamlessly adding a marvellously modern extension to a traditional Victorian redbrick.
Taking what she has learned from this and similar projects, here, she tell us exactly how to do a clever extension right.
1. THE BIG PICTURE
When considering an extension, I always look at the existing house and see what the best way is to maximise it. Often, an extension is needed, but people tend to look at it in isolation. I try to get people to see the whole space instead – the existing house and how it works as it is, and how it will then go on to work with this addition. An extension can create internal rooms that don’t get enough natural light, so the circulation and how you specifically use the house are important to take into account.
2. SPACE ADVENTURE
I say it all the time, but space is the most important thing. A good space is all about the foundations. Start by analysing how the current layout works for you: what are the problem areas? Ask yourself, ‘Is the space I have being used properly?’. Based off that, I would recommend getting someone to survey or draw up the house so you have it on a plan that you can work with alongside an architect or an interior architect. Getting that layout right, first and foremost, is key. It’s best to give them every possible detail from the start, even down to the number of kids and their hobbies, because storage and basic human requirements tend to get in the way of space being used properly.
3. LET THERE BE LIGHT
It’s hugely important to consider the aspect and the natural light. I understand that extending your house is a huge investment and a lot of the time people will compromise on windows and light, but I always encourage people to go for full-height windows (about 2.4 metres high) because that’s what you will be looking at every day. You can change and add with decoration but windows are something to really invest in. It’s worth paying that little bit more to get the right look.
4. MONEY TALKS
Construction is back on the increase, and rates are increasing quite quickly. It’s essential to choose what your priorities are and be very clear on them and very clear on what is realistic for your budget. Getting the shell right is the most important thing. It comes down to getting the best space, the best natural light, so that you have a very positive experience in your home.
5. HOLISTIC IS WHERE THE HEART IS
Consider all aspects together, rather than letting things get disjointed. That even comes down to the garden design – if you’re designing an extension that will overlook your garden, how do those particular elements relate to one another? If you think cohesively about the different items at the beginning, you will have a better experience. That includes the kitchen, joinery, and other similar areas. If you have a clear vision from the start, it is much easier to achieve the results you want in real life.
6. A LINK TO THE PAST
The most common problem I see is that people have gotten an extension and it doesn’t link at all to the existing space. Instead, you end up with an outdated house with a contemporary extension, and there’s no flow between them. Materials and elements should continue and create a lovely, seamless and considered space.