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Inside this family's geothermal self-build in Carlow: 'I love this corner where I sit and read'

Maria Ryan takes us through a typical day behind her front door.

Source: Maria Ryan

About the home

Where? Co Carlow
What type of house? It’s a self-build detached house, built ten years ago
How many bedrooms and bathrooms? Four bedrooms and two bathrooms
When did you move in? Ten years ago

About you

Name: Maria Ryan
Occupation: Designer Maker at Lollipops and Daydreams
Who else lives there? I live with my husband and our three children – one 12-year-old girl and two boys aged ten and six. We also have one dog and two guinea pigs!

1. What made you choose this home over others?

As it’s a self-build, we had full control over the design of the house, within the planning guidelines for the county of course! We wanted a house that made the most of natural light and would have the most space in rooms where we spend a lot of time, such as the kitchen and living room.

The heating and water are both geothermal and hopefully at some stage we’ll be able to have a mini wind turbine to run all the electricity.

Source: Maria Ryan

2. Which place in your home do you love the most and why?

My favourite spot is a corner of the living room where I sit and read sometimes. As we have underfloor heating we don’t have a mantelpiece so I used two picture rails for keeping a few little plants, photos and some paintings.

I used to keep these things on the window sills, but through the different toddler phases pictures were getting broken so it was easier to move things up higher and they’ve stayed there since. I love changing cushion covers with the seasons, so as the seats are very plain brown leather, it’s easy to bring colour with the soft furnishings.

3. Which place in your home do you love the least (and why)?

There’s nothing that I really don’t like, although some of the bathroom fittings were not practical for everyday wear and tear.

Source: Maria Ryan

4. Take us through a day in your house, room by room

7:45am: The alarm goes off and it’s time to start getting everyone up for school and work.

8:10am: My eldest leaves for school at 8:10 and the boys leave at 8:50.

9:30am: I have coffee and check emails and social media before going to my studio.
I sit at the kitchen table to have my coffee and then head straight to my studio. As it’s in the house, I find it best to start work as soon as possible or I’ll find myself doing bits and pieces around the house. I’m sure many people who work from home have the same dilemma, you have to switch from home mode to work mode!

10am: I start working. This could be cutting or sewing fabric or working on a pattern or doing accounts. No day is the same!

3:30 or 4pm: The kids arrive home. It changes depending on the day of the week and if they have any after-school activities. They usually do their homework when they come home at the kitchen table. Then before dinner they are either playing, reading or watching TV. Lego is a big thing for the boys so they love to have fun with that. As the days are getting warmer, they’ll be outside a lot more before dinner.

5:30pm: Dinnertime is one of my favourite times because we all sit down together and chat. I make sure the TV is off and there’s no other distractions so everyone gets full attention!

9pm: I go back to my studio to sew or get post prepared for the following day.

Source: Maria Ryan

5. Is there anything you’d do differently if you were doing it again?

If I were to build again, I think I would try to project manage it myself. But I would also not recommend building if you have very small children or are pregnant, as building can be stressful and it’s easy to miss details when you are sleep deprived!

I would also leave a longer timeframe to complete the job so things are not rushed or have to go with higher prices just to get the job in time.

More: ‘It was a granny’s house, full of old decor’: Inside this revamped end-of-terrace in Ballyfermot>

About the author:

Emily Westbrooks

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