It was hours of Grand Designs, Room To Improve and Homes By The Sea that inspired the home they eventually created in Dunmore East, Co Waterford.
The couple bought the house in 2015 when it was an average dormer bungalow that had been run as a B&B. Therefore it was filled with bedrooms with ‘lots of little en suites’. They decided not to rush straight into a renovation project, but instead get a feel for the house and figure out what would work best.
“We bought around April and then crashed in the house that summer,” recalls Carmel. “We were selling our own house at the time, so we were sleeping on blow-up beds and sitting on blow-up couches. We were literally camping indoors. We had a fabulous summer though and it gave us a great feel for the house.”
The original plan to do a straight-forward renovation was scrapped and all of the design inspiration they got from home improvement shows were put down on paper and given to an architect. “We were avid watchers of every house show going. We should really be thanking the like of Dermot Bannon and Kevin McCloud for the inspiration. Our children berated us at the time, ‘you only ever watch house programmes and the news’. While all our friends were telling us about Netflix we were glued to Homes By The Sea.”
Original plans had to change when the build began because the property wasn’t actually up to the standards they’d expected so a lot of upgrading had to be done before the main work started. Plans evolved as they went along as new ideas popped into their heads.
“Thankfully our builder was very obliging,” laughs Carmel. “We took a lot of what we saw on those tv programmes, like internal windows, and incorporated them into the house. The builder asked if I was a goldfish in another life because I kept asking him to put in more windows! I don’t regret it though because the light is fabulous.”
The attention to detail hits you as soon you enter the front door. The double-height entrance hall with rooflight and the custom-made walnut staircase with glass balustrade leave you in no doubt this is home that was well-thought out.
The proximity to the sea was also a big factor when renovating the property. With the sea providing a different view every day, the couple wanted to maximise this feature as much as possible. On one side of the hall is the sitting room where you can enjoy the sea views in relative peace, away from the rest of the house. On the other side is the heart of the home where the open-plan kitchen/dining and living room has been designed so that no matter which part of the room you are in, the sea is in sight.
“My favourite place in the house would be this living area,” says Carmel. “Whether you’re cooking, eating or sitting on the couch reading the papers, you’ve got uninterrupted sea views. There’s very little more you could ask for in a house.”
The kitchen is fitted with bespoke handmade white units and has integrated Neff and Miele appliances. Both the dining and living area have sliding patio doors that open out to a raised tiled patio. Behind the kitchen is a large utility and a gym that could also be used as a home office or playroom.
Upstairs there are two double bedrooms with en suite shower rooms, and a master bedroom with en suite bathroom and dressing room. All of the en suites have double power showers and underfloor heating.
Carmel says that it’s a very comfortable house to live in, thanks to their super heating system. “One of our best investments was definitely the air-to-water heating system,” she says. “It’s fabulous. You’ve even temperature throughout the house. Then with the triple-glazed alu-clad windows you’ve no drafts which is how we took the rating up to A3. We also have a wood-burner but we very rarely light it because the heating system is so effective.”