Christmas house: a contemporary self-build house

Philomena and Mike Price updated their self build property to make the most of its stunning setting

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We love Philomena and Mike’s home in rural Ireland, built from scratch more than 37 years ago and recently renovated to modernise the interiors. Be inspired by their reinvented space or look at our other real home transformations and find out how to renovate a house in our guide.

See more Christmas houses on our dedicated page, too.

Project notes

The owners: Philomena Price and her husband Mike, a designer and retired interior architect
The property: A four-bedroom detached house built in the 1970s
The location: Wicklow, Ireland
What they spent: The couple bought the plot for £9,000 37 years ago, and spent £21,000 on the initial build. The house is now valued at £900,000

Their journey to creating their dream home started in the 1970s. ‘We found the two-acre plot completely by chance,’ says Philomena. ‘We knew we had to snap it up before anyone else could buy it. We were so keen to buy the plot of land that we negotiated the deal within a week,’ recalls Philomena.

To make the most of the views, Mike designed the interior layout so that it was oriented to benefit from the wonderful setting.

To keep down costs, the couple hired individual tradespeople rather than using a main contractor, and they co-ordinated all the various trades themselves. Being nearby clearly had its benefits, as the build progressed relatively smoothly and was completed within six months.

white rendered self build bungalow with double height rooms

The couple originally built their home back in the 1970s. Since then they have extended by adding a second storey as well as updating the interiors, and are delighted with the end result

(Image: © Philip Lauterback)


The second storey, which the couple eventually added about 20 years ago, has given them a home office for Mike, a TV room, gym and some loft-style storage. 

hallway in a self build home from the 1970s

The spacious entrance hall is simply furnished with a sleek yet practical storage unit from Interlübke

(Image: © Philip Lauterbach)

They changed the kitchen about 10 years ago with the help of their daughter Katie, who is a designer.

Scandinavian style dining area with a large picture window at dusk

Benefiting from a stunning view through the window, from Rationel, the dining area features a table and chairs from B&B Italia, sheepskin covers from Ikea and wood flooring from Abbey Woods

(Image: © Philip Lauterbach)

‘Even after all these years the house still feels just as modern and fresh as when we first built it,’ – Philomena, homeowner

contemporary private residence-kitchen live area storage

The simple white kitchen from Euromobil suits the modern feel of the house, while exposed Red Deal beams from Abbey Woods add visual interest. For similar ceramic floor tiles, try Porcelanosa

modern white kitchen with island in a self build home with timber beams

Philomena and Mike opted for a streamlined look in their kitchen, with white Corian worktops from Obre and sleek Gaggenau appliances giving the space a contemporary edge. For similar bar stools, try the La Palma Lem design from John Lewis

(Image: © Philip Lauterbach)

double height living space with sloping vaulted ceiling in a 1970s self build home

With its panelled ceiling, the double-height living room is perfect for a cosy Christmas in front of the fire. The sofa and coffee table are from Ligne Roset and the large black gloss storage unit is from Interlübke

(Image: © Philip Lauterbach)

hallway and staircase in a renovated 1970s self build

When the couple had the funds to extend the house and add a second storey, they had this staircase built by local carpenter Brendan Lawless. The open-tread design allows natural light to filter throughout the entrance hall

(Image: © Philip Lauterbach)

monochrome bed in a white bedroom with purple throw

The stylish monochrome colour palette continues in the couple’s bedroom, with bedside lamps from Artemide, a grey throw from Avoca and graphic-print cushions made from fabric by Scion. For a similar style upholstered bed, try Loaf

(Image: © Philip Lauterbach)

white bathroom in a self build home

Designed to create a spa-like feel, the curved basin from Tile Style has been teamed with a low-level inset bath from Bath House, bordered by a piece of white marble specially made by Christopher O’Neill & Sons. The drawer unit and open shelving, both from Bath House, provide plenty of storage

(Image: © Philip Lauterbach)

studio space in a 1970s self build

Mike’s workspace is situated on the top floor of the house, which was built during the second phase of the building project. The sofa is from Cassina and the desk is from Interlübke

(Image: © Philip Lauterbach)

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