One of my favorite shows on TV is House Hunters (and its sister show, House Hunters International). If you’ve ever watched the show then you know the thrill of peeping into other peoples’ homes for a glimpse of how they live. When we were getting ready to move to Ireland I basically stalked the local house listing website to see every house that came on the market–every potential spot that I could be living. I wanted to know what the houses were like and how they would work for our family. Now that we’ve been living in Ireland for half of a year (how does time go so quickly?!) I feel like our “Ireland House” is our home. And I know that some of you are as curious as I was–what is it like? So, in the fashion of House Hunters International, I will now give you a little photo tour of our “typical Irish house”:
This is the view of our house from the street (our house is actually the third one in from the left with the silver car in the driveway). We live in what is called a “terraced house” (posh wording for townhouses). Most people I know here in Cork live in terraced houses similar to ours. Some people live in semi-detached homes (a duplex). Once you get out of the city you may even find a fully detached home. Notice the lack of garages–I don’t think I’ve seen a single house with a proper garage anywhere in Ireland.
Once you walk down our driveway you come to the front door. There is a mail slot in the door where our “post” is delivered each morning (if I want to mail a letter myself I have to walk to the shop by David’s preschool to drop my letter in the large green an post bin).
After opening the front door to our house you come into the entrance way. There are stairs to the right that lead to the second level, the kitchen is straight ahead, and our “sitting room” is off to the left.
We have converted our sitting room into a multi-function room as it is the only extra space we have in our house. The left side of the room has a couch, a chair, a fireplace, and a TV. Our house was “fully furnished” when we moved in–meaning that most of the furniture, knick-knacks, decorations, appliances, etc. you will see in these photos actually belong to our landlord. In fact, our house was so fully furnished when we moved in that there were still clothes in the closet and dirty dishes in the dishwasher!
The other side of the sitting room is our makeshift office and storage facility.
If you were to continue walking down the hallway past the sitting room you’d pass a small bathroom and then enter the kitchen. The kitchen is a pretty good sized room so we spend most of our communal time in this space. The far end of the kitchen has our dining space and baskets full of the kids’ toys .
The other end of the kitchen has all of the kitchen-y stuff.
We have a fridge/freezer that is quite large by European standards and an oven that is about the size of an Easy-Bake oven. Here is the oven all opened up. If you look closely you can see a 9×13 pan on the single rack–the edges and top of the pan are nearly touching the sides of the oven. Thankfully it is a double oven, so we can actually fit 2 sheets of cookies in at the same time!
Another surprising feature of our kitchen (at least to us Americans) is the washing machine right next to the dishwasher. The dryer, however, is not in the kitchen. When I’m ready to dry a load of laundry I first switch on the power to our shed in the cabinet that is next to the washing machine.
Then I carry the wet clothes outside, walk across the back yard, and go into our shed.
Then–Ta Da!–we find the dryer amidst the gardening tools and outdoor toys. After the clothes are dry I retrieve them from the shed and hope that it’s not raining too hard when I carry them back to the house.
As you walk through the back yard toward the house you pass this little contraption. At first I thought it was a compost bin–how handy! In fact, it is a coal bin. Full of coal. Note the zip-ties that keep the coal bin door locked shut–for some reason this is the boys’ favorite place to play and hide their toys.
We’ve never actually burned coal in our house. I don’t like the smell of it and I know that the boys would have a heyday smearing coal soot all over my house after the fire burned out. Instead, we use our lovely radiators. We are able to set them to come on 3 times a day. When the radiators are on, they’re ON. As in, we go from freezing to boiling in a matter of seconds. I’d kill for a Nest thermostat here.
Continuing right along our tour, now. Upstairs we have 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Jacob’s bedroom is at the end of the hallway. It’s a cozy little space that the Irish refer to as the “box room” (because it’s tiny and is typically used to store boxes, not babies). Luckily for him, Jacob is tiny so he doesn’t mind the small space.
And we’ve even managed to squeeze some boxes into his little box room.
David’s room is a pretty good-sized space. Unfortunately, most of the room is taken up with a queen-size bed. David sleeps in about 1/10th of the bed and the rest is used to store his numerous “Gigi’s” (blankets) and stuffed animals.
Next to David’s room is our “hot box”–a storage closet with the hot water heater on the bottom. The boiler heats up this tiny closet like it’s a dry sauna–perfect for keeping towels toasty before a shower or warming your hands during the hours between heat bursts from the radiators.
Next you come upon the boys’ bathroom. The tub is always full of bath toys, the toilet seat has broken off, and the room always seems to smell vaguely of urine. It’s not my favorite room in the house.
Finally we come upon my little oasis: the master bedroom. It’s not a large room, but it has a door with a lock so I love it.
…Even if I do have to share my special space with about a dozen Rubbermaid bins of assorted storage that didn’t fit anywhere else in the house.
Our bedroom also has its own bathroom. Most of the sinks here have separate hot and cold taps. If you want to wash your hands in warm water you have to turn on both taps and move your hands rapidly between “boil your hand off” and “icy stream”.
In order to take a shower you have to first flip a switch on the wall that turns on the hot water. Then you turn on the water inside the shower and adjust the temperature on the wall mount. This took a little getting used to, but now I actually really appreciate our electric shower.
And with that, you have seen our whole house in all of its Irish glory. A lot of things are very different from what we were used to in America, but that’s part of why we moved here. To experience something different. And, do you know what? I love it! I love how our house is small and cozy. I love that the view out of my kitchen is lush rolling hills with meandering cows. I love that we are learning new ways to do things and that I am being forced to be creative in how I approach everyday tasks. Yes, things are different, but they are good.
Now, one final photo. This is the view you would have if you were walking out our front door. I hope you enjoyed your tour and we’ll see you next time!