With a width of just five metres, the challenge of this long house was overcoming the restrictions that a narrow space brings. This architect Rebecca Zammit has done beautifully, creating a home for herself and her husband that is so stylish and comfortable that the lack of width is barely noticed. Key was taking advantage of the elongated nature of the plot, some 35 metres or so, to extend the house lengthways, but an inspiring way with materials and smart design features also play their part.
The project took two years and commenced with the demolition of part of the traditional Maltese townhouse that was here before. ‘The front of the townhouse had the typical arch and Maltese tiles but the back rooms of the house were quite random and cut off from the garden and with only one small window there was little light,’ says Rebecca. ‘The front part of the house had the most architectural value and was true to the character of traditional townhouses, so we decided to keep the front part only.’
The result is that the entrance to the home is a cool space of Maltese-tiled floors and white walls which lead both visually and physically to the contemporary open-plan living space of dining, kitchen and living room. Here Maltese tiles give way to flooring of engineered wood, a warm contrast to the ceiling of exposed concrete and long storage walls clad in either black or concrete grey.
Light is in abundance, flowing in from the floor-to-ceiling doors that lead to the garden and also from the first floor via the skylight which forms part of the bedroom floor above. ‘It gives the ground floor an open feel, and from the bedroom makes it possible to see the living area from a different perspective,’ says Rebecca. ‘It also allows a visual connection between the two spaces, without losing any floor space.’
The skylight has also been carefully positioned in relation to the sun. ‘In winter, the sun reaches the skylight so we can take advantage of it,’ says Rebecca. ‘In summer, however, the sun is so high that the rays do not come in and so we get light without heat.’
The placement of the kitchen led the demarcation of the different living zones on the ground floor. ‘We are often in the kitchen at the end of the day, or while entertaining, so I wanted it to be the focus,’ she says. ‘Also, the sofa close to the garden allows us to enjoy the outside even when seated inside.’
Opposite the black cabinets in the kitchen is a wall of further storage, this time clad in concrete grey. ‘You can never have too much storage!’ says Rebecca. ‘But both the grey units and black ones also conceal structural pillars that needed to be built.’
Upstairs the couple’s bedroom is also full of light thanks to more floor-to-ceiling windows that also allow for a stunning view over the countryside to the sea. Another smaller window looks out onto an internal courtyard which provides cross ventilation as well as giving another green perspective. By this window, the bathtub has been strategically placed, open-plan in the room. ‘I didn’t want a bath in a small dark room with no outlook,’ says Rebecca. ‘I wanted to be able to relax with a view.’
Outside in the back garden, decking leads onto lawn, and trees and other shrubs add both the freshness of green and the softness of nature. ‘We wanted to be able to use the garden, not just look at it,’ says Rebecca. This the couple did when they moved in last July. ‘We have really enjoyed living in the house for the past year,’ says Rebecca. ‘We get to see how the house changes with every season, and how light and nature really have an impact on the interior spaces, making us feel closer to nature.
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