Houzz Tour: A Modern Home Designed to Flex Around Family Life
What do you get when an architect full of ideas designs her home from scratch? A place that adapts to suit its owners
They really do: lots of the furniture in the large, open-plan downstairs is on wheels, huge panels slide shut to close off sections of the space, and the entire top storey was completely reconfigured 10 years after the build to accommodate changing family needs.
Who lives here? Architect Eva Byrne, her husband, Gerard Carty, also an architect, their two children, aged 19 and 21, and Bisto the dog
Location Central Dublin, just outside the city centre
Property A three-storey mews house built in 2002 on the site of a former stable
Size Three bedrooms and two bathrooms
Designer Eva Byrne of Houseology
Photos by Philip Lauterbach Interior Photographer and Eva Byrne
Eva Byrne and two friends bought a plot of land together close to the canal in Dublin with a view to building their own houses.
“It’s just at the beginning of the Victorian suburbs,” Eva says of the area. “You tend to get Victorian houses on the main streets and then a network of mews streets on the lanes. These contain two-storey buildings that would have been for horses and animals.” Eva’s house is built on the site of one such structure.
Pictured here is the living zone – the first part of the house you see after coming in through the front door (see next photo).
Dublin mews houses typically have a walled courtyard at the front, Eva explains. She designed in three outside spaces: this one, a north-facing garden at the rear, and a south-facing terrace on the first floor.
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The exterior wood is iroko and the drawer unit, wall cladding and ceiling are birch ply. The drawers here keep keys, dog leads, bicycle lamps and other hallway paraphernalia in order.
To make best use of the space for Eva and her family’s needs, she designed in an area for coats and shoes, as well as incorporating mirrored storage above the loo and basin.
The flooring throughout downstairs is white terrazzo. “There are subtle shades of grey in it – it’s not a flat white, so it’s a bit forgiving of dirt,” Eva says. It’s warmed up with underfloor heating.
The dining and seating areas at the front can be closed off from the kitchen at the back by full-height, sliding birch ply panels, visible back left in this photo.
“It’s important in an open-plan house that you can do that, so you can make it cosier,” Eva says. “It’s also good for privacy – for instance, if there’s a kitchen disaster while guests are over. It means you can use the house in different ways.”
Vintage coffee table, The Vintage Hub. 1970s white sofa, inherited.
“To keep the flow of space, the chimney breast doesn’t touch the floor,” Eva explains. “It means you don’t have this big piece of masonry wall coming down to the ground. It’s an open fire, but it’s as if it’s suspended above the floor.”
There’s also no TV in the room, which Eva says makes it a very calm place to be. “It takes a huge amount of pressure off the room – we didn’t need a big wall space to mount it on.” There’s a television in the den upstairs.
“Lots of the furniture is on castors – we change things around a lot,” Eva says. “That’s the beauty of open-plan living – when it works, you can enjoy adapting the house as you need to.”
The hanging typographical artwork, ‘Reorganising The Signage Again’, is by Liam Gillick. “It also acts as a divider between the front and back of the house,” Eva says. “We put fairy lights on it at Christmas.”
The iroko dining table is 3m long and there’s a rooflight over this section of the ground floor, so it’s not dark.
A wall-mounted sideboard with drawers doubles as a buffet area and desk, with shelving overhead for books, photos and decorative objects.
Zettel’z pedant light, Ingo Maurer. Series 7 dining chairs by Arne Jacobsen, Fritz Hansen. Dining table, designed and made by Irish architect Christopher Boyle to match the one in the kitchen.
The dining table occupies the space where an island might otherwise have gone. “We felt an island would be intrusive and interrupt the flow of space from the front courtyard to the rear garden,” Eva says.
Overhead units are used for food as well as plates and glasses, and there’s lighting that came with the kitchen over the sink unit. “This kitchen is so well-designed,” Eva says. “And if you walked out of the house, you could take it all with you!”
System 20 kitchen, Bulthaup. Oven, Siemens.
TV unit, Stock Design. Sofa, The Sofa Factory. Pixellated artwork ‘Eva’, Stephen Hall. Conservatory chair, Newlands Home & Garden Centre.
Bed with storage; chair, both Ikea. Wall-hung desk, made bespoke.
Alex drawer (inside bespoke frame), Ikea. Dressing table stool, The Vintage Hub.
The décor is pale and simple, with cushion-backed vinyl on the floor. At the windows, there are Venetian microblinds the colour of aluminium, meaning you barely see them, especially from outside.
The mirror is a family heirloom; it was presented to Eva’s grandfather during the war. The bedside table on the right slots into the side of the bed and slides up and down. It also folds over the bed when it’s needed as a table.
Stripy cushions, Ikea. E1027 side table by Eileen Gray, available at Aram Store.
Bookshelves at the end of the wardrobes add colour. “Instead of looking at the end of the wardrobe, you’re looking at something interesting,” Eva says. “It’s a very simple thing to do.”
The curve of the roof can clearly be seen here. “It’s a barrel vaulted roof, which means the shape doesn’t impact on the neighbours too much,” Eva says.