Rural Cottages

Hearth was approached by the NI Tourist Board in 1993 to provide a design guide for rural cottages, prior to their launching a project to encourage people with disused buildings in the countryside to restore them to provide holiday accommodation with character.

With funding from NITB and the International Fund for Ireland, a pilot project of six cottages was identified and carried out in 1994-95. The buildings were all unlisted but had strong vernacular character, and the brief was to retain original features inside and out where possible while providing comfortable modern houses for visitors to stay in.

The houses included four houses above Glenarm and another on Islandmagee. One was an interesting two-storey house at Bellair with attached byre and hayloft accessed from an external stone staircase. The challenge here was to provide bedrooms and living space in the byre and hayloft without changing the character of the design, and sash windows were provided while retaining the sheeted doors to the openings in that part, so that when the house is unoccupied the doors can be used as external shutters. The external staircase was a concern because of health and safety, but it was agreed that visitors would be warned about the possibility of falls rather than changing its character by providing safety rails.

At another one, Tully Cottage, it was not possible to use the existing sash windows as escape windows as required by regulations, but a detail was devised whereby a sash window was retained inside a small casement window that was big enough to act as the escape: when not in use it appears to be a conventional sash window, but in emergency it can be hinged open as a casement.

At Rectory Cottages a pair of small houses were converted into one larger house, which enabled the steep historic stair to be kept in one house while providing a conventional modern one in the other; the two houses retain their different paint schemes so they remain visually distinct.

Tully: After
Rectory: Before
Rectory: After
Islandmagee: After
Bellair: Before
Bellair: After
Project By
Consultancy Scheme
Co. Antrim
Year restored
McNally Contractors Ltd
WH Stephens