Home Tour | The Schoolhouse by Kingston Lafferty Design

  • A three-storey Georgian-style home in Galway City, Ireland, undergoes a heartfelt transformation at the hands of Dublin-based studio Kingston Lafferty Design (KLD).

    Kingston Lafferty Design‘s Roisin Lafferty describes her latest project as ‘spirited’, ‘soulful’ and ‘alive’; a “tactful and encompassing home that reflects the essence and vibrancy of those who live there,” she adds. Entrusted to redesign Galway terrace for a busy family of seven, the spatial reconfiguration needed to cater for chaotic afternoons and evenings, paths crossing throughout the day and plenty of space for Irish dancing practice.

    Together with local architectural practice Helena McElmeel Architects – responsible for the new light-filled extension wrapped around the courtyard patio – Kingston Lafferty Design have captured the vibrant nature of the young family through colour, form and, most importantly, functionality. 

    An Ever-Evolving Home

    Arguably the most important aspect of a family home renovation is ensuring the home can grow alongside its inhabitants. The lengthy four-year design process meant the KLD team and their clients knew each other inside out. “It was a pleasure getting to know this wonderful family and creating spaces that best suit how they live,” Roisin reflects. “It is a lived-in home that frames a set of busy, excited and happy lives.” 

    The initial floorplan and configuration weren’t sympathetic to how the family lived. However, Roisin explains that getting approval to rework the home was no easy feat. “The biggest challenge was the conservation constraints; the existing property had a series of dilapidated buildings and sheds that completely blocked the natural light getting into the building,” Roisin explains. Numerous design iterations later, Kingston Lafferty Design and Helena McElmeel Architects finally convinced planning authorities to give the decaying back structures new life and improve the building throughout.

    The formal living and reading rooms are housed within the traditional entrance hall. The kitchen lies at the end of the hall, connected to the reading room via a small internal annex, previously an exterior space. “This annex has now been designed as a cosy space to sit and drink a coffee looking out to the courtyard,” Roisin explains. Following the kitchen, the light-filled dining room flows into the statement sunken lounge in the rear extension, easily partitioned off through custom whitewashed oak accordion doors. These dynamic spaces allow the home to seamlessly transition between entertaining and hosting guests to comfortably serving those who live there.

    The sunken living room in the rear extension area was one of Roisin’s favourite spaces to design. “I wanted to distinguish this area as a different type of lounge and encourage a different function within it,” she states. The moss-green velvet is the only element of colour in this space, designed to complement the surrounding greenery. Statement light fixtures include the Davide Groppi Moon and Flos 265 wall lamp, both ‘forever favourites’ according to Roisin.

    This space can be easily partitioned off through custom whitewashed oak accordion doors, allowing the home to seamlessly transition between entertaining guests and daily life.

    The dining area is situated in a previous lean-to extension and is the bridge between the old and new parts of the home. Roisin likens the new design to that of an orangery, with terracotta tiles through to the courtyard, and a generous skylight.

    An Ode to the Past

    Roisin says the first client meeting shaped the kitchen’s design direction. “When we first met the family to get the original briefing, we all sat in the then-dark and cosy kitchen around a pot of tea served with home-baked treats,” she recalls. “Although cold and lacking in natural light, there was a character we wanted to retain,” she adds. As a result, the “deliberately old-fashioned” kitchen is imbued with a sense of comfort and homeliness through the classic custom-designed joinery, exposed railing and glazed ceramic tiles, all a nod to what once was. 

    KLD’s courageous exploration of colour stemmed from the original frayed stair runner and inlaid Georgian patterned mosaics in the entrance hallway. Contrasting blue hues are met with rich burgundy and mustard tones throughout the front of the house, while the rear takes on a more earthy palette through terracotta, greens and walnut. “We wanted to merge the old and new capturing the character and interest of the house through interesting pieces from different eras,” Roisin shares. Luckily, many of these interesting pieces came with the home, including glass display cabinets, glass and brass pendant lights and plenty of ‘curiosities’.

    KLD sought to retain each of these pieces to cultivate a personal design intrinsic to the family and the home’s character. “We wanted our design intervention to feel embedded in the building, not a surface-level application,” Roisin reflects.

    Two custom-designed loft-style beds maximise space in one of the four kids rooms.

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