Inside this renovated cottage in Rathmines - the dream gaff for city dwellers
The design king of cottages has worked his magic in D6
Wesley O'Brien is the undisputed design king of Lilliput. The designer and self-styled "property scout" specialises in sourcing run-down artisan cottages for clients and then sends his crack construction and craft squad in on their behalf, to resurrect the tiny homes and transform them into something really special. From tired and worn-out properties emerge bright, stylish but ultimately simple and fresh-looking homes, which also don't break the budget.
O'Brien brings in the services of bespoke joiners in environments where every inch counts, but neither is he afraid of using cheaper materials and furnishings, so long as they do the job functionally and visually.
A perfect example of an O'Brien foray in Dublin's tiny town is the house at 47 Gulistan Cottages, which has just come on the market in Rathmines, Dublin 6.
Gulistan's 64 cottages were built in the 1890s by the Rathmines local authority for its workers. It is popularly held that they were built for the firemen at Rathmines Fire Station (they're located down the lane between the fire station and the town hall) and it is likely that firemen lived here - although not all residents could have been blaze fighters, given that this would tally up to 64 firemen!
"Four years ago, Mark and Gail Spurr contacted me because their daughter Hayley was coming to Ireland to study at the Royal College of Surgeons," says O'Brien. "They didn't want to be wasting money in rent and wanted me to find her a small two-bedroom apartment. I asked if they would trust me and instead began looking for a cottage. We found this one in October 2013 and bought it quickly. We got the team in straight away, with Colin Wendel as the builder. It was ready to move into by January."
O'Brien believes in preserving as much of a cottage's original integrity as possible and avoids the well-worn route of digging down and breaking into the attic to produce three "half levels".
"It's neither one thing or another. This cottage has lovely high 10ft ceilings so there was no need." It required rewiring, reskimming, insulation, a new boiler and landscaping. "We added a small extension at the back but nothing to take away from the garden, which we felt should be kept as much as possible." A chimney stack which served three fireplaces, including the cooking area in the original Victorian cottage, was restored and stripped back to the brick, providing a focal point of character. "The former cooking enclave actually houses the TV," says O'Brien.
O'Brien, who grew up with a family of seven in a small house in Cabra, says he is always pondering how to optimise the smallest spaces while maintaining a pure simplicity. The house has a living room, a bathroom, two bedrooms, a rear hall and a patio. There's underfloor heating, a bespoke kitchen and woodcraft by Munster Joinery.
The house was acquired in "original condition" for €285,000 and another €60,000 spent on it. Hayley saved on rent while living here and earned further income from the second bedroom under rent-a-room. Now it's on offer for €450,000 through Felicity Fox. See wesleyobriendesign.ie
47 Gulistan Cottages
Rathmines, Dublin 6
Asking price: €450,000
Agent: Felicity Fox (01) 6334431