Every moment was given to the house but it was completely worth it…

Rachel Hobbs talks to Build & Renovate

Story Highlights
  • “We had a lot of preparation and design detail considered.”
  • “I loved the design phase of it.”

Interior Architect and Designer Rachel Hobbs and her husband, Robert snapped up a 200 year old farmhouse just outside Ballincollig in County Cork. The Hobbs purchased their family home in 2017 and lived in a mobile home with their three children on site whilst transforming the house into the fabulous home it is today.

Everything needed to be upgraded and reconfigured to make it suitable for the young couple and their children Rocco, Indie and Forrest. Mrs Hobbs was keen to maintain the look of the original building from the front and include aspects of the essence of the building throughout the new house.

“The location of the farmhouse was perfect for us as it was near to family, near to main routes but it still felt rural. It needed enough work that we could make it our own and the space outside has potential for updates also. It felt like the right place for our family to be,” said Rachel Hobbs.

“We enjoyed the renovation process wholeheartedly. It was all consuming as it was a direct labour build on top of a full time job and three small children in a mobile home on site. Every moment was given to the house but it was completely worth it.”

In terms of whether or not the renovation ran smoothly or did they encounter any difficulties or delays along the way?
“There were no massive delays, all the work between trades is a lot more time consuming than anticipated. With our backgrounds in Interior Design and as an Engineering Manager and with Rob’s Father, Ray being a steel fabricator, it meant that we had a good balance of practicality and the final finish in mind. We had a lot of preparation and design detail considered ahead of the time so we could make decisions fast,” enthused Mrs Hobbs.

As to the layout of the house?
“We kept the footprint of the original farmhouse and converted an adjacent shed. The original house has the utility room, sitting room and office and the shed and the piece that joins them holds the kitchen, dining and living room. The main entrance is at the back of the house, like a good traditional farmhouse and the hallway links the front and back door. Upstairs there are four bedrooms, a bathroom and an ensuite. The landing has an area looking down to the back door and we have a floor net here instead of having an open void.

Our favourite part of our house is the landing space. Seeing the children enjoy and play in a space that could have been a walk through zone, but now is an area that we all spend time in. The open plan downstairs works really well too; it is in an L shape and there is a wall running some of the way between the kitchen and living space, which creates a cosier feel in there rather than one big open area, she added.

As an Interior Designer, did Rachel find it difficult when it came to designing her own home?
“We had an Architect for the design phase of the house which was brilliant to streamline the ideas and have a neutral perspective in creating a home for us. When you’re so involved in something, a professional sounding board to keep you on track is always helpful. I loved the design phase of it because Gary (GOFA) was as in to the details as I was. Rob wasn’t so into the stairs detailing at 11pm at night before the planning application had even gone in!”

What advice would she offer to anyone who may be about to embark on a renovation project?
“Get advice from the professionals where possible. Write yourself a brief for the house, consider how you will use the space for every aspect of your day. Are there things you can adjust or include to make this a more enjoyable home for this task? What is important to you, may not be as important in someone else’s home, it’s such a personal experience so keep yourself focused on your needs.

It will take a lot of your time, brain space and physically but it will be your life afterwards so it is worth giving it your all and making considered decisions. Things will have to change and adapt in the duration of the process, some things always come up but it’s not the end of the world! There are always other options and often it turns out to be a better one. Listen to the professionals but do your own research too to be informed. Look for opportunities and stay ahead of the build where possible and try to enjoy it!, imparted Rachel.

Is there anything that The Hobbs would change or do differently when it comes to their home?
”We adore the house and every inch of it is used but we would have put a drinking water tap on the first floor, moved a window 30cm to the side to give more space for curtains to sit and maybe extended the flat roof a little more to create an overhang. A smaller stove would have been enough in the sitting room too,” concluded Rachel Hobbs.


Rachel Hobbs
Rachel Hobbs Interiors


    Words: Emer Kelly Images: Rachel Hobbs

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