Walking through a grand period house with an owner who is a structural engineer by profession and who oversaw the complete renovation of the property is a different experience to viewing it with, say, an interior designer.
The talk is of joists, heating systems, the technical demands of laying a polished concrete floor, replacing windows and rehanging and refurbishing Victorian doors, the sprinkler system instead of fire doors, the cause of and then the engineering solution to a large crack in the rear wall and so much more.
There’s not much talk of colour charts and soft furnishings – though there could easily be as the very stylish number 8 Crosthwaite Park East, on one of Dún Laoghaire’s grand old squares, could feature in the pages of a glossy interior magazine.
Much is as you might expect in a house of the period: a fine entrance hall with decorative plasterwork; two large interconnecting rooms at hall level, now with their original features such as fireplaces, cornices and floors restored; and upstairs three bedrooms.
The main bedroom takes up the entire width of the house to the front and so is vast with two windows, the deep bay and a tall sash, parquet herringbone flooring, a gas fire inset to the original marble chimneypiece and a wall of bespoke built-in wardrobes in a sophisticated black finish with copper detailing. An atmospheric mural from Ananbo covers one of the walls – surely a nerve-wracking challenge for the decorator as the chi-chi wallpaper mural costs thousands.
The owners took the decision not to have an en suite for their bedroom even though the space allowed, instead they created a very large family bathroom in the return – its glazed wall that looks over the rear garden provides a distinctive contemporary feature. High-spec features here include a Victoria & Albert free-standing bath, walk-in shower cubicle with rainwater shower and a Duravit double sink. The third bedroom, a double, high up in the top-floor return has its own bathroom.
Pitched frameless window-lights in the roof throw natural light down the stairwell and, on the way down to the garden level, there’s the hall-floor return. This has been opened up and is now spacious enough for a grand piano and opens out to its own terrace to the rear and has a glazed balustrade looking down to the kitchen.
The couple’s original idea was to have a guest bedroom down at garden level with its own bathroom situated to the front of the house and with pocket doors that slide away and disappear to make the space open plan into the dining area and kitchen when needed. They needed it sooner than they thought. When they bought in 2012 they had no children and now have three so this guest bedroom has become a playroom – the door pulled back all the time and colourful plastic mats on the polished concrete floor that covers the entire garden level.
The minimalist kitchen – double-height thanks to the reworking of the hall-floor return – has a wall of glass opening out to the patio. It features a wall of floor-to-ceiling cupboards with integrated appliances including two V-ZUG ovens and a Liebherr freezer, facing a substantial Corian island unit.
The black finish of the cupboards provides a striking contrast to the white Corian – chosen, say the owners, instead of stone because it is a warmer, easier-to-maintain surface.
The ground floor isn’t entirely open-plan. There is an entrance under the granite steps and it opens into a hall with custom-designed storage, a shower room and a cloakroom.
The 50ft rear garden has been landscaped and is currently a riot of colour as is the front garden. Residents of Crossthwaite also have the benefit of the railinged square to the front which has been much improved in recent years.
The renovation of the house, says the owner, cost “somewhere between €600,000 and €700,000” – such was the extent of the work required and the upscale choices they made when it came to flooring, fixtures and fittings. It went over budget – they had thought €500,00 would do it but it was always going to be a pricey fixer-upper.
The terraced house came on the market in 2009 seeking €1.9 million – wildly optimistic given the state of the market – and the house – at the time. By the time the current owners came to buy in 2012 the asking price had plummeted to below €600,000. There tends to be a good supply of large period houses in need of substantial renovation in the seaside suburb and while it’s a dream of many to buy one of these grand old properties, the costs involved in making them comfortable modern homes is substantial.
Now ready to take on another project, the couple have placed 8 Crosthwaite Park East on the market through Sherry FitzGerald seeking €1.695 million.