On the lookout for a new home with plenty of space for their growing family, Jennifer and John Mooney were won over by a spacious dormer bungalow set in the rolling Irish countryside. ‘We loved the location and it had a great garden for the kids to play in,’ recalls Jennifer. ‘It was even more appealing because it wasn’t a standard dormer bungalow. Split-level, it had a mezzanine floor above the dining area, and we could see we’d enjoy spending time here together.’
After 12 years of living in the property, however, the couple’s three children – including Claire, who is at college in the USA – had become teenagers, and the needs of the family home had changed. ‘Since buying the bungalow, we had discovered that the mezzanine level made the open-plan living and dining area difficult to heat, and the layout of the property also made it impossible to contain noise, such as the TV,’ says Jennifer.
- The owners: Jennifer and John Mooney, who own a catering company, live here with their children Niamh, 19, and Brian, 16
- The property: A five-bedroom dormer bungalow built in 1987
- The location: County Kildare, Republic of Ireland
- What they spent: The couple bought the property in 1998 for around £250,000 and have spent around £159,600 extending it. It has recently been valued at around £300,000 due to property market conditions in Ireland
The split-level design had also lost its allure, and the couple wanted to have the living room and kitchen on the same level so that they didn’t have to keep running up and down the steps between the spaces. ‘As the children were now adults, I wanted to do up the house to my taste since there was no longer any need to worry about them damaging the interior finishes,’ says Jennifer. ‘It seemed the perfect time to start a major renovation project, which we hoped would extend the useful life of our family home for another 20 years.’
After the building work on site had finished, one of Jennifer’s first purchases was a large L-shaped sofa that she’d had her eye on for a while. ‘When it was delivered, something wasn’t right about it,’ she recalls. ‘It was the right shape, but somehow it just looked wrong in the space and wasn’t working in the way I’d envisaged, though I didn’t know why. Suddenly I’d had enough of the project. By this point I had worked for so long on the house that I felt completely burnt-out on all things house-related. I didn’t have the time to do any more research, or to spend six months looking around showrooms to see what would work in the space.’
Jennifer realised that it was time to look for some expert advice, so she sat down at her computer and did an internet search for contemporary interior designers. ‘I knew that my style definitely wasn’t traditional,’ she says. ‘I had travelled a lot when visiting family in New Zealand and Australia, and loved the bright, modern, open-plan houses I saw there, so I wanted to create a similar feel in my own home. I came across one particular designer’s website and liked the look of what I saw, so I rang her to arrange an initial consultation.’
Jennifer immediately hit it off with Think Contemporary designer Joanne Kelly, and her problems were soon solved. ‘I knew what I wanted, but it took Joanne to turn it into reality,’ she admits. ‘She knew where to source everything and how to put it together so that it looked stunning. Joanne organised for some of my old, outdated furniture to be taken away and re-finished or re-covered, and it re-appeared looking amazing.’ Surprisingly, once the floral cushions that came with the sofa were removed and new cushions and a rug had been added, the sofa looked completely different, and was much closer to what Jennifer had in mind.
‘Carrying out a complete home renovation is a huge undertaking, and it’s hard to contemplate how much hard work and how many hours of research you need to put into it to get what you want,’ admits Jennifer. ‘You also have to know when to stop and call in the experts. I’m delighted with my new house; it is everything that I wished for: bright, contemporary, easy to look after, and the light now streams into the house all day. It’s perfect.’
|Building work (including extending)||£82,000|
|Painting and decorating||£4,100|