Third Time's a Charm
Ireland's Homes Interiors & Living Magazine|September 2021
Designer Rachel Hobbs and her husband Rob have taken a rundown farmhouse in Ballincollig, Cork and beautifully renovated it to suit their lifestyle needs and interior style.
Rachel Hobb, Rob

Already living in the area, interior architect and designer Rachel, and her husband Rob, an engineering manager, had gone for planning twice on different plots of land before this house came up for sale.

‘We were refused planning twice before we came across this 170-year-old farmhouse. Although it looks big from the outside, it was a two-up, two-down property and we knew it was too small for our growing family and needed a lot of work to suit our needs,’ explains Rachel, who shares her home on Instagram @rachelhobbsinteriors. ‘At this point, I had Rocco (now six) and Indie was three months old (now four), however, we could also see what could be done to turn it into the home we wanted. Plus it is set in a beautiful location. It is only five minutes from the main road but feels like it is set in the country and only a short distance from Rob’s family. We also have incredible neighbors. It really was the perfect find,’ she adds.

Rachel and Rob sold their house, bought a mobile home and moved on-site, which is where they would spend the next two years, and not only negotiate living with two young toddlers (Rocco was two and a half and Indie was eight months old when they moved into the mobile home), but also welcome baby number three, Forrest (now two) into this temporary accommodation.

‘To keep costs down we did everything we could on the house ourselves with the help of Rob’s dad and other family and friends, and we brought in professionals for more specialised work,’ comments Rachel. ‘Doing things this way meant that living on-site was the best solution so that when Rob came home from work and was then working on the house in the evenings and weekends, that we were all in the same place at least.’ Rachel and Rob worked alongside an architect to incorporate an adjacent outbuilding and link it and the farmhouse with a new, contemporary two-story extension.

As Rachel explains, ‘We approached our architect right at the beginning to ensure that we got it right. He was able to offer his expert knowledge when it came to the orientation of the rooms to maximise the light coming into the house and focus on our needs as a family to get the most out of the design.

If like us, you are working to a tight budget, I would advise factoring in spending for an architect otherwise you could make costly mistakes along the way and have costly regrets at the end.

‘Where I did then look to save money was with some of the finishes. For example, in our kitchen, I opted for a hardwearing and affordable acrylic door with an oxidised steel metal finish rather than a wooden handpainted one. However, I did invest in a charcoal soapstone worktop and I can keep this and simply change my cupboard doors when the kids are older.

‘I looked at my flooring in the same way. I chose large-format terrazzo floor tiles throughout the ground floor and then in our snug room, office and sitting room I went for a laminate wood flooring, which not only gives these areas a cosier finish but is harder wearing than a solid hardwood floor when you have three young children. Again, when the kids are older I will probably look to replace this laminate flooring with a hardwood.’

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