YOU'LL need some extra lateral thinking to live at 19a Long Lane, Ireland's narrowest home – and once cited in a magazine article as being among Europe's three narrowest. The house has been placed on the market recently.
Built to fill in a pedestrian lane early in the 20th Century, the property has gone down in Dublin folklore because is it just slightly over six-foot wide at its narrowest point. The story goes that the original builder of the terrace came back and filled in the lane to squeeze the last drop of cash from his scheme.
The house at 19a is located off Heytesbury Street and beside the old Meath Hospital, and it presents a neat red front door and a single window to the road. You won't notice it in the row of Edwardian terraces unless you're looking for it. A giveaway clue to its origins are the twin lane pillars which are still apparent either side of the property's neat front garden with its red-and-black tiled path.
The upstairs mezzanine bedroom stretches across this space – meaning that you can't be too much over six foot to snuggle down for a night's sleep without narrowing your options. It also means the furniture has to be carefully chosen and arrayed so the resident can walk through the home without restriction.
But given its width restrictions, there has been plenty of interest in this property, which has attracted more than 10 interested parties through it in a relatively short six-week sales campaign through OMD Estates.
Agent Derek Mulligan says the sale of the house has been agreed for €136,000.
If this price seems strong, consider the location in the south city centre and right beside Dublin's "golden mile" of fashionable pubs and restaurants which runs from Portobello to George's Street.
Add to this the fact that the narrow house has been rented out at €900 per month and the price starts to make sense.
This represents an extraordinarily healthy yield in the order of 8pc, indicating that the new owners are quite incisive in their lateral thinking.
The vendors are a professional couple who bought it five years ago and lived there happily themselves for three years before moving out to start a family and renting out their legendary abode.
From the front door, you walk into a small entrance hall and then into the long living room. There's a bathroom, which is half the width of the house, and an overhead mezzanine sleeping area accessed via steps.
Next is the galley kitchen and the back door. Through here is a small patio garden with a shed at the bottom of it. This area offers the opportunity to deploy an architect to substantially increase the size of the home from its current 344 sq ft.
The designer of the world's narrowest house – the famous "Keret House" at Chlodna Street in Warsaw, which was completed last year (also in a lane) to great international interest and acclaim – has described the sale of 19a as a "really interesting opportunity for an architect to engage with this kind of challenging space."
Jakyb Szczesny of the architecture firm Centrala, who designed the Keret House, says: "It is interesting to hear that 19a is changing hands. If the new owners plan to renovate the space, then I would definitely advise them to get a good architect and maybe also a designer, because – as we learned with the Keret House, which is also slotted into a narrow space between two buildings – a coordinated design approach can really improve how it can be used.
"Also the use of bespoke fittings will help improve its functionality. The only thing I would warn them is that the planning authorities can be tough to deal with when it comes to an unusually narrow space like this. Sometimes they can find it hard to understand what you're trying to do and too many regulations can be a problem."
His recently completed Keret House is a foot narrower at 5ft across and tightens in to 3ft at its narrowest point. The two-storey post-modern home is built primarily of iron over two floors and includes one bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom and a living area. It has two windows, and the sun enters via the transparent panelling which makes up the walls.
The interiors are white and the fridge can only hold two drinks. A ladder links the two levels. The house is located one floor up off the street and is accessed by a futuristic retractable stairs which folds down to street level.
The house is lived in by the trendy Israeli filmmaker Etgar Keret, its first tenant and hence the home's name. Because it can't qualify as a "house" under Polish building regulations, the Keret is officially classified for regulations as an "art installation".
It is believed that Europe's second narrowest abode is a former broom cupboard in London's plush Knightsbridge district which was sold in 1987 for STG£60,000 (€70,000) prior to the big British property crash of 1989. The home/cupboard, measured 5 ft 5 inches by 11 ft.
Another contender for Ireland's next narrowest home is the converted toolshed at 25a John Dillion Street which is 10 ft wide and also located in Dublin 8.
The 280 sq ft home – which again fills a gap in a red brick terrace – this time over two floors, was reported sold in 2005 at the height of Ireland's boom at €220,000, making it dearer per square foot than the headline €58m Walford sale on Shrewsbury Road which took place in the same year.
25a has a tiny kitchen/living room downstairs with no window. It has no back garden, a bathroom and a spiral staircase which leads upstairs to its only bedroom. It came back to the market in 2011 and was sold for €70,000.