Three Irish cottages which have seven clever devices architects use to make the most of small spaces

Not all cottage renovations are on the same scale as Harry and Meghan’s plans for Frogmore Cottage in Windsor. With 10 bedrooms and €3m of taxpayers’ money, they have something of a space and budget advantage over most of us who come up against a small cottage redesign.

For those average earners who want to own a home in the city, city artisan cottages are sometimes the only first step left on the property ladder thanks to tight lending regulations.

Those on the tightest of budgets only get one shot at it, and when it comes to a small cottage, it has to be right first time.

Space is obviously the final frontier when it comes to homes which have a fairly generic footprint and almost no room to extend the building itself. But there are some common tricks that architects use to squeeze the last drop of usable space out of little homes.

1. Do the splits – open out the ceilings and open out the disused roof space. If you can, lift the roof at the back to allow more standing room in your new upper floor. Digging down can give you the extra space to get in the vital extra floor.

2. Open plan – knock the walls you can that restrict and confine existing space.

3. Pare the stair – thick chunky staircases which require ground eating supports and panels should be avoided or removed in favour of less obtrusive versions which let the ground beneath become part of the living space.

4. Bathrooms and kitchens should double as “move through” spaces. It might seem odd, but many successful cottage designs situate the back door in the bathroom. This way the inward door swing doesn’t eat vital space.

5. Mirrors, mirrors on the walls – it’s an old trick but it works. Mirrors make rooms, especially, bedrooms, look larger.

6. Deck the halls – break down the wall and get rid of smaller old fashioned halls. Invest in a better sealed front door.

7. Use flat roofs – many extended cottages have flat roof ad ons, which if reinforced properly can create a vital outdoor deck space that will make all the difference in summer.

There are three revamped city cottages currently on the market that have been renovated utilising all of these tricks in clever ways to maximise every ounce of space available.

Number 1 Fingal Street in Dublin 8 has used every trick in the book. Architect Ciaran Ferrie took a once-drab one-bed terraced home and made it sing. You enter straight into the living room where the ceiling has been lifted and Velux windows put in – one of the first steps to bring more light in and therefore make a home feel airier and more expansive. The clean lines and white walls flow on through to the kitchen. The house has been extended at the back to create a double bedroom and a bathroom big enough to fit a wet room-style shower.

The custom-made staircase was devised to minimise its effect on the room to a point where it nearly goes unnoticed. Where the attic used to be there is now a second bedroom with en suite bathroom. And just when you think the architect couldn’t possibly fit another thing into this tardis, there is a small roof garden with artificial grass.

Skylights have been used throughout and furniture has been kept to a minimum, to give a sense of floor space in the 614 sq ft cottage.

The house is on the market with an asking price of €250,000 through Hunters Estate Agent (01) 493 5410.

Number 34 Gulistan Cottages in Rathmines underwent a similar space-enhancing job about three years ago. The two-bed end-of-terrace is decorated in bright colours that truly glow when the sun shines through the skylights or the light from the carefully placed spotlights bounces off the clean lines.

At just 430 sq ft, this house certainly doesn’t have an inferiority complex. Where colour is missing on the walls and ceilings, furniture gives the odd blast to create a bit more fun with the interiors.

Small items of furniture are used to create a runway effect from the front door to the back of the house. There are two double bedrooms, one to the front and the other to the side of the property. Both have wardrobes and overhead storage which is crucial in a house this size. Mirrors create a feeling of space in the bedrooms and tall radiators mean you’re not losing a wall to heating. The shower room is tiled with white tiles and painted in white with a skylight and a corner shower.

Number 34 Gulistan Cottages is on the market through Sherry FitzGerald (01) 496 6066 with a guide price of €465,000.

Down a quiet cul-de-sac in ever popular Dublin 8, you’ll find Rialto Cottages, which has become a pretty stylish little community with creative owners who have turned tiny artisan houses into imaginative sought-after homes.

Number 13 has followed all the white walls and light flooring rules but dared to be different with one wall throughout the house painted in a canary yellow. It gives the cottage a sense of fun but may not be to everyone’s taste. The house was recently extended and renovated and now comes with a total floor area of 592 sq ft. Where natural light isn’t available, overhead spotlights are used to light up dark spaces. The kitchen has been fitted with a Velux skylight that makes the compact area seem much larger. A breakfast bar cuts out the need for a dining table. Behind the kitchen is a double-bedroom with wall-mounted lighting and a bathroom that has been designed as a wet room.

The staircase up to the newly created mezzanine, blends seamlessly into the wall and doesn’t impact on the downstair’s living space in any way. The new mezzanine is a generous space that could easily accommodate another bedroom or a home office, and has added an extra 183sq ft to the house. There is extra storage up here in the eaves, that will be very welcome in a home where you don’t have much space for hoarding.

Number 13 Rialto Cottages has an guide price of €300,000 and is on the market through agents Sherry FtizGerald (01) 492 2444.

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