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Property: Don't move, improve

 

When it comes to our homes and making them work better for us, we don’t always need more space, sometimes all we need is to think more carefully about what we have and how it might be reorganised. Architect and member of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) Jane Larmour from Arigho Larmour Wheeler Architects, Belfast and Dublin, offers advice on how you might achieve this. 

REMODELLING RATHER THAN EXTENDING 

Reorganising your existing home can often be a more cost effective and time saving solution than extending, particularly if you have enough space but it is not working very hard for you. An architect can help you to look differently at the way your current layout is organised and suggest how internal changes and design alterations might be helpful. Many architects will often offer a free consultation. 

ADVANTAGES TO RECONFIGURING 

There are advantages to remodelling within the existing walls of your property over extending, in that you won’t need planning permission to make internal changes to your home. If your house is listed or in a conservation area you will need to apply for listed building or conservation area consent, and your architect can help you with those applications, along with a building control application. 

REMOVING INTERNAL WALLS 

Although the difference in square metres might only be minimal, the effect of removing an internal wall can often have a dramatic effect on the brightness of a house, allowing light to wash through from light filled rooms into normally dark areas of the house. The north facing parts of a house may only receive direct light for a very short part of the day and can benefit enormously from being opened up to south-facing windows. 

DISAPPEARING CORNERS AND SLIDING SCREENS 

At a recent project in Monkstown we removed the back wall of the existing house and replaced it with folding doors which can be closed to hide away the children’s toys in the evening. Sliding screens can be used in a similar way to connect spaces. 

MOVING ROOMS 

Kitchens tend to be very social places within our homes, but they can often be tucked away in a separate room at the back of the house. In a number of recent projects, we have moved the kitchen to the heart of the house allowing a strong connection to the living areas. In a Victorian terrace house in Dalkey we moved the kitchen from a dark basement floor up to the bright main social floor of the house. 

CHANGING TO UNDERFLOOR HEATING 

Underfloor heating is not as expensive as it used to be and has the advantage of freeing up wall space from radiators meaning that you can plan furniture layouts with more freedom. Modern thermostats by companies such as Nest allow you to adjust the heating from your mobile phone which can be especially handy if you are away for the weekend and want to top up the heat before you get home. 

INTEGRATED STORAGE 

A wall of full-height storage can hide a surprising amount of clutter and prevent other rooms from becoming disorganised and poorly used. This can be carefully planned with your architect. 

BRINGING THE OUTSIDE IN 

We are often asked to remodel houses in the city to improve the connection between the main living spaces and the back garden. Kitchens or utility rooms that face the garden can often be moved or reorganised to allow for a wall of glass to frame a more generous view of your outside spaces and bring in more natural light. 

Architects transform projects large and small, more information can be found at www.rsua.org.uk and www.alwarchitects.com

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