Cabra making space without building space

Sometimes (and for a lot of people that means now) to extend or to make structural alterations to a house is just too much to take on. But that doesn’t always mean that there is nothing that can be done to improve how a house works or the quality of life for its occupants. In a small house it can seem like there is little room for manoeuvre. But then again, when space is limited each move you make can have a big impact.  

In the case of this house in Cabra, the owners decided to do what they could by focusing purely on storage and on that old staple of the domestic makeover, painting. I called over a couple of times to get a feel for the place, and discovered the spare room completely filled with books. When I asked how many of these could be gotten rid of, I was told that there was another load of books in the family home of one of the couple. So if there is a theme to this job it is both how to fit all these books and also how to make the house look well doing it. There is a book, named after a quote in, well, a book, called “Books do Furnish a Room”. It shows the kind of personality that books can give a space, ranging from the haphazard to the highly organised to the flamboyant. In this case they are relatively organised, but with a hint of chaos. 

Custom-designed storage, besides looking good, has to achieve two things to really justify its price tag versus the alternative (a trip to IKEA). The first thing is to fully exploit all the space available (and also to find space that doesn’t appear to exist at all). The second thing is to make the design reinforce the client’s personality, as opposed to letting off the shelf products disguise it. Here the clever thinking is all about what space can be used and how, and the personality mainly comes from the books, and especially in the way places are found to display books where you don’t expect to see them. This aspect is the part the clients are happiest with and proudest of. Apparently the most popular part of the whole job with the clients’ friends is the little box shelf on the stairs (reserved for travel guides). Everyone stops for a browse. 

Another way to increase value for money and quality of life is to double things up (again an advantage of custom design). So what was just a stairs is now both a stairs and storage. The spare room (working again without the old boxloads of books) has a wardrobe that incorporates a full length mirror alcove which doubles as a dressing table / study table and also as a space to house one end of a baby’s cot, leaving a bit more space to get around the room. So it is designed both for now and for the future. 

All in all, a satisfied client and pound for pound probably the best value job I’ve ever done. The units were made by Stephen O’Gorman of Moore & O’Gorman Joinery.