Home of the Year: Peek inside the gorgeous 150-year-old farmhouse that took last year’s crown
The 2022 Home of the Year prize went to a gorgeous 150-year-old farmhouse in Co Wicklow.
Home of the Year recently wrapped for another season with the 2023 trophy going to Rob and Janice McConnell for their stunningly situated and architecturally intriguing new build in Co. Antrim. Inspired by their modern, single-storey home – created using as many natural materials as possible – we decided to take a peek back at last year’s winner; Kate and Shane Byrne’s 150-year-old Wicklow farmhouse.
While the property itself has been in Shane’s family for decades, the couple added a modern extension when they moved in in 2018, knocking through all of the smaller rooms to create an open-plan living space with plenty of natural light.
Maintaining their home’s sense of history was really important to the family – whose son Max, is now the fourth generation of the Byrne family to grow up there. According to Kate, the whole family was absolutely delighted by the good news… as well they should be, it’s quite the honour and no small achievement!
“We are just so over the moon and blown away by the reaction to our home. For our farmhouse to make the final, never mind win, is just so incredibly flattering. It is not something thing we could have ever imagined happening. Our house is a part of our family’s history and is truly a home, not just a house. For the judges to see and recognise that is amazing,” Kate commented at the time.
As she puts it, a home “is not about the size of your floor plan or budget” but about “the feeling the house gives you and those that visit it”. “The other houses in the competition were beautiful and it’s such an honour to have featured alongside them. Just being part of the competition is such a great experience and one I would highly recommend,” she continued, admitting that the calibre of talent in last year’s competition was truly mind boggling.
So, what set it apart from the rest?
According to Hugh, the Wicklow farmhouse was a clear winner. “Arriving you knew there was something special and walking through the door I just loved the hall. The scale and size of the kitchen was terrific and that big dining room table was smashing! It was amazing because once you went through that door you could just feel the heartbeat of this spectacular home.”
“There’s the intangible which is so important, that feeling when you walk around the home – of the family, the fun, the history, the memories that are in that home – that’s what makes a home for me.”
Amanda echoed his sentiments, noting that it was the property’s connection with its surroundings that sealed the deal for her. “This home is full of light, spacious, comfortable, uplifting and has a great connection with the surrounding landscape. Sometimes homes are all about how they make you feel and our winner just made you feel good.”
Sara described the house as “a hugely worthy winner”, saying that she loved the peaceful feel of the baby’s bedroom in particular. “The home had wonderful flow and had a lovely combination of old and new. I loved the living areas, in particular, the unique U-shape layout and seamless connection to the outdoor terrace and farm beyond. The bedrooms also had a very serene feel, with the baby’s bedroom, in particular, hitting a cheerful and uplifting note.”
Just after concluding its ninth season, the popular RTÉ show has been a big hit since its inception with the 2021 finale claiming a whopping 29% audience share and a consolidated average of 423,000 viewers according to The Irish Times.
We’re already counting down to next year’s show but in the meantime, you can catch up with all the episodes of Series 9 and earlier series of Home of the Year on RTÉ Player now.