OUT OF THE ORDINARY It’s hard to believe that this stunning home in Ireland was once a simple bungalow
Gitte Trench turned a very simple bungalow into a cosy, nurturing space, characterised by deep neutral shades, touches of bright colour and relaxed yet elegant styling
When Danish-born Gitte Trench’s beloved husband Bernard had to move to a nursing home a few years ago, necessitated by a long illness, it prompted a life-changing decision. ‘I sold our house in Dalkey, County Dublin, where we had raised our family and spent many happy years,’ says Gitte. ‘That way, I could use the funds to make sure Bernard was in the best possible facility for the rest of his life. I didn’t want to stay in our beautiful home if Bernard wasn’t able to share it with me, so I set aside money for his care and a small budget to buy another house.’
Gitte decided her new property should be single storey and near shops and public transport, but the one thing she wouldn’t give up was being near the sea. Eventually, she found a 70sq m bungalow on an estate in Greystones, County Wicklow. ‘It was modest in size, very ordinary, but I knew I could create a home that would be right for me,’ she explains.
The property was in poor condition, ‘a real doer-upper,’ recalls Gitte, ‘ but it was what I could afford. I decided to make it a home, which would enclose, soothe and cheer me.’ Three months later, the house in Dalkey was sold, and Gitte was planning a total revamp of this ‘ordinary’ bungalow. ‘The interior of our previous home was in a very light, pale, typically Scandinavian style, but for this place I wanted something completely different,’ explains Gitte. ‘I was, however, keen to have a dining table and a sitting room big enough to accommodate my sons, their partners and children, and myself. I also wanted a small mezzanine level, which
design tip ‘ Make an impact and liven up a dark palette with a pop of bold colour like I have done with my vibrant red stair ladderõ
could be a fun zone for my grandchildren, so they could all happily play up there while I got some peace downstairs!’
Gitte added a three-metre-wide extension to the rear of the property, bringing the total area to 90sq m. The extension didn’t require planning permission and created room to add an open-plan living and dining space onto the kitchen, with three sets of French doors opening to the garden. ‘I don’t like sliding doors, and felt both the extension and the French doors balanced the space well,’ says Gitte. The mezzanine level is accessed with a stair ladder – ‘the sturdiest and most cost-effective one I could find,’ she says. To the front of the house, Gitte had the wall between the sitting room and hall removed to create an open, welcoming space, which connects cohesively to the rest of the property.
‘This house works for me,’ says Gitte. ‘The sitting room is the sunniest area. The colour scheme of sand, charcoal and camel is based on my memories of the Kalahari, where I lived for six months as a teenager with my mother and her husband, who was working out there. This room also features my favourite pieces in the house – the bookcase divider made by my son, and the beautiful Napolean III chairs that I bought with my husband in Paris.’
The rear living area is Gitte’s winter retreat. ‘I love the deep colours at night when the lamps are lit; it creates a cosy space that’s full of sparkling light,’ she says.
This once ordinary bungalow is now full of personality thanks to Gitte’s creative touch. ‘It has a feeling of warmth and calm,’ she says. ‘I finally feel at home again.’
favourite item‘ The bespoke bookcase, which was made by my son. It helps to define the hall and sitting room, and pleases me greatly’
KITCHEN Gitte mixed paints to create the vibrant shade for the stair ladder, which leads up to the mezzanine. oxidise 111157 wallpaper, £107 per roll, Estate Fabric and Home
KITCHEN Mirrored and brass splashbacks lift the dark units and add a glamorous touch. Dark oak kitchen, £ 4,750, supplied and fitted by noyeks newmans
Family room ‘I wanted warm, enclosing, serene colour,’ says Gitte. Casamance Instant wallpaper in Charcoal Linen, £65 per roll, Casa Home
HALL/SITTING room A large, cosy sofa creates a relaxed, welcoming feel. trafalgar grand sofa, £1,499, DFS. Vittsjö nest of tables, £ 45, Ikea
hall/ SITTING room The bespoke bookcase doubles up as a handy room divider. book/display unit, £2,800, studio trench
Bedroom Minimal styling and a neutral scheme create a restful feel. Vittsjö shelving unit, £ 45, Ikea. Pendant light, £12, Dunnes stores
Bathroom A large mirrored wall panel increases the sense of space. wall tiles, £20sq m, tubs & tiles