The impetus for this project was the refurbishment and extension of a villa-type house in south county Dublin. This style of a house typically has the main reception rooms on the upper floor accessed by wide stone stairs to a fan-lighted front door. The lower level contains bedrooms and service rooms at the garden level.

This house had been purchased by a young family attracted by the period details and the large back garden. The thing that set this house apart is an original Turner Conservatory. The conservatory had been a significant attraction of the house but it was in a seriously poor state of repair. The works to the conservatory formed part of a larger extension and refurbishment of the house.

The new owners wanted to make some adaptations to make a more liveable family home such as move the kitchen to the rear and down to garden level. There were also requirements to upgrade the services and comfort level of the house and deal with issues common to most period houses such as damp and drafts.

The challenge for this design was to make a bright family kitchen and living space looking onto a north-facing rear garden with minimal potential for sunlight. We were also anxious that the conservatory not just become an afterthought but would be integral to our design solution for the whole house. For that reason, we proposed to place the new kitchen directly behind the conservatory at the back of the house.

To bring south light into the kitchen we would ‘borrow’ it from the conservatory by making a large opening in the solid back wall of the conservatory. We would then place a spiral staircase within the plan of the conservatory to provide access directly to the kitchen. This would have dual benefits – the kitchen would benefit from south light despite having a northerly orientation and the conservatory would become a central focus of the house.

The finished conservatory is now an integral part of the house, it provides sunlight to an otherwise dark kitchen and has become central to the circulation of the house. It is used daily and is a beautiful place to begin the morning and close the evening.