This tiny terraced fisherman’s cottage is located in the seaside resort town of Bray, Ireland. Built in the 1830′s, it had fallen into disrepair and was derelict when the owner engaged DMVF Architects to design a renovation. The goals of the project were to restore the exterior of the protected heritage structure and to modernize its interior.
With only 25 m2 (270 ft2) of interior space, there was very little room to fit the requirements of modern life. Architect Colm Doyle’s solution was to design a plywood box that sits in the tiny cottage, defining the spaces around it. The sitting room is to one side, the kitchen is on the opposite corner, and they are linked by a small entry hall alongside the box. A staircase built into the box leads up to a sleeping loft on top, and a bathroom and storage space are contained within it. The box itself was constructed of furniture grade birch plywood by skilled cabinetmakers. The warm tones and smooth finish of the plywood work well with the white walls and charcoal floor tiles.
New skylights offer a view of the night sky while lying in bed. During the day they bring light into the formerly dark cottage. A reflective white ceiling and an open railing allow the incoming light to reach the entry and kitchen.
The architect made the intriguing design decision to enclose the staircase: there is a solid dividing wall between the stairs and the adjacent sitting room. One could argue that leaving the stairs open would have made the sitting room appear larger, and that may well be true. However, enclosing the stairs works in a subtle way to make the cottage as a whole feel larger. Had the stairs been left open, the sleeping loft would have been open to the sitting room below, and you would effectively be moving from one directly to the other. Instead, you get from one to the other by traveling along a narrow passageway. This transition zone increases the feeling of separation between the two spaces. You can get a sense of that as you flip through the images in the gallery.
The renovated cottage is both beautiful and functional. We’ve looked at a bunch of tiny houses. Could you live in under 300 ft2 of well-designed space?
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