Even though it’s a part of Irish history, this 280-square-foot cabin was rotting away in Ireland’s coastal town of Bray. Constructed in the 1880s as a crude fisherman’s cabin, it was decaying and uninhabited because a poor remodel in the 1960s. The client, who grew up in Bray, pictured bringing the cabin into life as a little vacation home.
Colm Doyle and DMVF Architects helped her turn this very small space into something livable and bright. Behind its traditional cabin exterior, a new, modern interior revolves around an innovative plywood cube that divides the space by action, creating a slick and open feel.
at a Glance
Who lives here: This is another home for a Dublin girl to keep in while visiting with her mother.
Location: Bray, Ireland
Size: 280 square feet
The client wanted to maintain the cottage look of the exterior. Owing to its history, this home is listed as a protected structure, which intended Doyle couldn’t knock it down and needed to operate inside its tiny footprint. But since the house was remodeled in the 1960s, the interior could be changed dramatically.
The cabin doesn’t have any front or back garden, and originally had only one tiny toilet that needed to be accessed from the outdoors.
Traditional forms fall away indoors, as you can see in those pictures of the redesign, taken before the home has been decorated and furnished.
The first layout had divided the house with a galley kitchen down the middle — right in the entrance — with all the bedroom on one side and a little living area on the opposite. The strange layout made the 280 square feet feel even smaller. The client wanted to make the most of the light and space in the home.
Doyle and his staff removed the home’s first low ceiling and added a plywood cube, each side with its own purpose. The kitchen takes one side, access into the shower area is around the corner, a sleeping loft sits on the very top, and also this side holds storage and a little utility area. “It became evident very quickly during the design procedure that every last inch of space needed a specific purpose and dedicated usage,” says Doyle.
BEFORE: Water seeping in through a leaky roof caused damage throughout the home. Unoccupied for the past ten years, the house had no functioning gas or electric system. The kitchen has been terribly outdated — an awkward mix of styles and tastes from various eras.
AFTER: The back side of the cube now holds the kitchen and extra storage. The railing above opens into the bedroom near the peak of the cube, which faces back windows and skylights. Nothing exists from the previous kitchen sleek cabinetry, durable countertops and modern appliances now make up a simple space which works perfectly for another home.
Because the cabin was left unoccupied and in a terrible state for such a long time, it was difficult for the client to envision the way the interior could eventually become livable. While she wanted it to be comfortable and full of light, she didn’t have any preferences stylewise, so Doyle and his group were basically left with a blank slate.
BEFORE: The initial living area was obsolete and suffering from severe water damage. Wallpaper peeled from the walls, and old linoleum covered the floors.
AFTER: though the cube occupies about half the floor area in the house, it allots far more living space than the initial divided layout did. “This endeavor was about working from the minimum upward,” says Doyle. “We looked at the minimum dimensions of each one of the elements or purposes, and allocated space to them then.”
Stairs built into the plywood cube lead until the sleeping stage.
The home’s small size produced work challenging for the building group, especially with no outdoor backyard to retreat to. Doyle had to make certain only a couple people were in the home at precisely the exact same time, so construction could be safe and productive.
A surprisingly spacious loft takes advantage of the cottage’s sloped ceilings. Large skylights allow in afternoon and evening light but keep the space from getting too bright in the daytime. Closet and storage area built in the wall removes the requirement for a dresser or wardrobe.