Irish modern house

Modern Irish Small House Plans – Inspirations

Modern Irish small house plans inspire me.  They influence my own designs. The understated no-fuss simplicity is particularly attractive. And like the honesty of construction is very appealing.

Down to earth.

There is a lot of bad design around us, so here highlighted are examples of what we at Islandhomeplans.com call good design. You may not agree which is perfectly fine.

Those who enjoy understated residential design will enjoy this article…hopefully.


Source of the Modern Irish Small House Plan – History

Irish history owns its fair share of pain and suffering. And the traditional Irish cottage which has stood with its people through the centuries (probably the original Irish small house plan) often consisted of 3 basic, squalid rooms.

Irish cottages of yester-year carry the core layout  for even Irish modern small house plans today.  The quirky, beautiful, country cottages – and even those which are just simple shelters – from the weather – speak to the unique and fascinating history, culture and lifestyle of the people of this emerald isle.

Today there are still so many modern Irish small house plans that still follow the same basic linear plan of lobby, open living space and bedrooms!

(Note …bathrooms were not included…of course.)

traditional Irish cottage small house plan

Upscaled from the simple cottage was the farmhouse, normally two storied  with a family living room and a “reception” room which was the room for receiving guests. To this day, finer homes show off the additional  reception room separate from the family living space used daily.

Traditional Irish farmhouse  small plans

More recent Irish small house plans often consist of a hall leading to a back muck room. Off the hall there is often a family room and a formal reception room opposite, if you were lucky to have the money! Sometimes the kitchen/dining is to the rear , sometimes to the front, walled off. and the bathroom would also be to the rear. Today smaller homes have evolved from these layouts.

What did those cottages normally look like?

old irish cottage elevation

Here was the typical cottage. Sometimes the roofs were hipped, sometimes they used tin roofs.

Today there aren’t many thatched roofs left  but I managed to find one!

Thatched Irish farmhouse small house plan in Northern Ireland
Thatched farmhouse – Irish small house plan in Northern Ireland

Modern Irish Small House Plans: Old Elements

Irish small cottage houses, some of them original, have been spruced up to make new homes. The traditional small house plan layouts  with the thick stone walls, whitewashed or left in natural stone have been efficient in retaining heat in the cold wet climate.

Old and modern cottages in Modern Irish small houseplans
Lost Cottage entals

This old stone cottage above (complete with gable walls and a tin roof), converted to a luxury love nest rental, shows how old Irish small house plans can upgraded  for modern use while retaining original features. In this case here, the concrete extension mimics the original cottage and links the two structures to make a bigger house.

The cottage walls may be uneven but the renovation has underfloor heating and a modern kitchenette. Even roof skylights have been added  without losing the original feel of the cottage.

interior of traditional irish cottage  small house plan


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Modern Irish Small House Plans:   Modern Links

Have a look at how old venacular cottage elements have created charming and elegant homes today.  Small house plans linked with clean modern  lines work so well together as the textures contrast and complement.

In this example, the exposed cottage stone texture already contrasts with the clean smooth whitewashed plastered cottage. Linking them with an understated  and precisely engineered glass and steel box is a simple and elegant idea – as they say in Ireland “it’s class”.

Old Making New Even With Small Houseplans

Taking old to make new is an Irish talent. Here  below two old cottages were spruced up using contracting stone and whitewash and joined with a modern glass link! I love the blotchy uneven stone next to precision glass and steel next to clean sharp whitewash. Perfect!.

The effect has raised the bar and revalued the property at a much higher level while adding much  needed space.

modern irish small house plans linked with glass and steel entry

Linking old rubbly structures with new engineered elements is a brilliant, tried and tested technique of using contrasting materials for links, is a good tool to have in your design kit. This design below is actually in Cape Cod…Massachusetts…but it is a good example!


Just the ticket for you! Maybe not as large as this one in Cape Cod, but juxtaposing the new against old uneven materials is a tactic often used in modern Irish small house plans.

Irish Modern Small House Plans: Linear Gabled Forms

Many Irish modern small homes  have enhanced the ancient linear cottage forms with white pristine plastered walls and balanced openings. By retaining tin roofs but changing the colour of the standing seam cladding to charcoal and using dark framed glazing and black or grey pipework, new homes appear culturally Irish, understatedly modern and attractively simple and accessible.

New homes for sale here! Again the venacular pops through to the Irish modern small house plan design. No need for ostentacious architectural elements. Just proportion, contrast (here is black wood and white washed stone,) balance and  understated elegance. In the examples of homes we show (with the same gabled walls), horizontal dark wood cladding against the white plaster provides an eye catching contrast.

Another option shown was to modernize the Irish cottage plan to a double storey, similar to the farmhouse. Here the linear cottage shape is brought to the 21st century by the double storey glazing on the gable wall. Clean lines, sharp white plastered walls and charcoal window frames, cladding and pipework emphasize the latest trending style.

Evolving the old cottage design, this modern two storey modern  home below has the gable was cut out and replaced with glass! (And the chimney stack adds some fun!) I actually found a similar design which had just been completed in the countryside… although a bit bigger!

      Irish modern house


Modern Version of the Small Irish Cottage

This extension / garden cottage and large glass opening the  is modern and simple. By using sliding panels of wood contrasting with chopped wood  texture, clean white walls and large glass openings, the shed extension is attractive, elegant.



This  Irish modern small house plan nods to the Irish cottage venacular using the elements in a modern minimalist way. I love the panels of wood boards , the large glass opening and the texture of chopped firewood storage.


Modern Irish Small House Plan Ideas: Terraced House Renos

This 763 sq feet, 3 bed end of terrace house was up for sale in Cork, fitting a very tight site in the city centre. With a few renovations, the makeover  took the old terrace to a whole new level.

New hardwood floors, new roof,  new windows were added.

Modern Irish small house plans from old terraced houses in the towns are great examples of design renovations. Extensions and rearrangements of rooms and finishes bring the homes to the 21st century.

old modernized urban terrace small house

The most up to date renovation point was improving the long dark kitchen.

This is another great design idea…another tool  to add to your set for design.

The long dark kitchen was made more spacious and bright by upgrading the old terrace with large patio doors to the narrow space outside and by adding a few rooflights,

Bye bye dingy space.

galley kitchen in irish moderm small houseplan with skylights


Upgrading The Mews

The super expensive mews houses have been re-purposed in city centre with amazing interiors and additions to bring in light where it was once dark.This front wall creates privacy and style.

Modern Irish smallhouseplan external horizontal lined wall

Charm and history aside, mews living has its drawbacks. Their Achilles heel has always been limited space and lack of daylight. (Traditional mews had no windows at the rear so servants couldn’t spy on their masters).

Modern Irish small house plans mews private courtyard

By using a modern front wall , this mews house easily modernizes an old mews house facade. Behind the wall is an attractive courtyard and additional light via french doors with full glass.

looking out to the small private walled gardens. Adding glass conservatories add space and more light!! Their simple facades can open up to wonderful internal spaces. These components  modernize old urban mews homes, increasing the value.

Modern  Small House Plans Can

Impact Your Small Home Designs

The traditional Irish house is truly a core design for small homes, simple and efficient. The way the Irish architects and homeowners have upgraded and modernized their old cottages inspires us to look at their design toolkit for inspiration for our own small house plan designs.

  1. Use  venacular or the old core designs of your region and upgrade them
  2. Use contrasting materials with contrasting colours and/or textures
  3. Add traditional elements revamped
  4. Juxtapose modern elements against old
  5. Add lots of light by making new openings or extending openings
  6. Use modern exterior elements, pavers, walls, fences etc

Traditional house plans, traditional building elements and components, modern juxtaposed materials and contrasting colours will create your new small house plan design with class and quality.

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  1. I really like these Irish style cottages.

    Especially the one you show as a one-floor garden cottage, this is very simple and still very attractive.

    Great open space and the fireplace hanging from the ceiling is fantastic.

    It all looks very modern but still not too expensive. Big windows are great and open the house even more.

    1. hey Stefan, 

      Simple elegant easy to heat and very typically Irish. Great to live in and great for rentals. Can expand in lots of ways…

      Thanks for leaving a comment. Look out for my coming blog on modern tropical cottages!

  2. I’m from Wales and we had similar houses back in the day with the outside toilets, my grandmother still has the outside toilet, obviously, she has one installed inside her house now but its mad to think they had to leave the house in all weathers just to… well… you know, lol

    It’s amazing what they are doing with the old cottages these days and I would imagine they will be sold for a pretty penny as well wouldn’t they

    I particularly like what somebody has done to the old terraced house that you show here, especially the extended upper floor in the roof space, I would quite like to do that to my own house as I too live in a terraced house

    How much would that sort of work set me back if I wanted to go through with it and would I need planning permission?

    Thanks if you can help me 🙂

    1. Ah……. beautiful Wales! I will get there on a holiday some day…or maybe to research Welsh cottages 😉

      I know what you are saying about the outhouses…I don’t know how they did that…lol…awful!!!!!

      Upgrading old terraced houses… you can add 25 – 40% onto the value of your property with a good extension. 

      There are lots of ifs, ands and buts with extensions and construction. For me it seems obvious where the no-no’s are… but I’ve worked in design and build for 30 years. Here is a blog about costs to beware of and the way to think about it. Its about new build but applies to all projects. I need to maybe go into more detail for people…but I need the questions to answer…like yours.

      So to answer…depending on your location, yes sometimes town planning is required , sometimes not.  Also depends on the age of  your property and the local planning laws as often they stipulate because of specifics of your area (eg… heights of ground floors if it is prone to flooding or how much tarting around with roofs if you are in a tight urban setting or an area prone to high winds or even if the area is historic…to retain a look!)

      Costs? depends on materials, your structure,and size. My advice? Set the budget FIRST (cos you should only do  what you can afford!) and go from there….

  3. Wow such a great idea about Irish style modern small houses . I love these types of houses . Various kinds of Irish houses I like Terraced House Renos most. This type of houses gives a excellent experience of terrace. Also about a great design and build quality. Again these are not highly expensive. After all, how it will cost to build this kind of house?
    I really want to build this house. It’s my desire.
    Best wishes.

    1. Hey Touhidur Rahman, 

      Where would you like to build this sort of house? The countries all have different costs attached to materials and labour.  In the Caribbean for example many materials are a lot more expensive than in the UK or USA but labour is often cheaper. The key is a small home will cost less overall because the size means less materials…normally!

      So a cost percentage in the UK might be 40% to materials and 60% to labour (for standard average materials like timber and gypsum)…in the Caribbean that is the opposite …60% to materials 40% to labour …because so much has to be imported. Then if you add fancier materials like steel beams or marble and granite, the materials  and labour costs change again. 

      We can provide estimates and rough costs but only in countries where we have experience…the Caribbean , UK and Ireland although I’m sure you can get estimates in the US, Canada and Europe online too! 

      If you are in the UK , Ireland  or the Caribbean we can help anyone out with the design, TCPO and build costs….

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