Opening up a semi-detached home
A house in Rathfarnham eliminates every inch of dead room
Modern house- building moved on long ago from the classic semi-detached house design - the blueprint from the 1950s until the 1990s that comprised the standard average for an Irish city home.
Today, a new family home is more likely to be a three-storey mid-terrace or a semi-detached with an open-plan kitchen and dining area downstairs arranged alongside one principle reception room.
In contrast, the classic semi has two self-contained reception rooms, often but not always interlinked by double doors or sliding doors. There would be a self contained, but rather small, kitchen. Most owners later extended these to make a kitchen/diner.
Upstairs, there were two double bedrooms and one box room.
But how we lived changed. The need for a 'good room', in which to eat only at Christmas, Easter and birthdays and into which we brought special guests, has evaporated and families are not keen to leave wasted space about today.
So when the couple who own this home at Ballytore Road in Rathfarnham inherited their classic 1950s semi from his parents, they soon encountered problems of space wastage.
"We discovered that the family either congregated all at once in the living room or in the kitchen," says the lady of the house. "When we were in the living room, a long, narrow space, we actually only used one end of it. The space in the hall was wasted and there was also a significant attic area which was not in use. To the side of the house was the garage, also generally disused space and also with potential above it to extend."
So in 2005, after starting their family, the couple called in John O'Neill and Associates Architects with a brief to maximise every inch of usable space in the house.
The result was the removal of all the walls downstairs, leaving only the living-room chimney column in place between the floor and the ceiling. The original 1970s extension at the back of the house was pulled down and a two-storey extension created space for a new, much larger master bedroom with its own ensuite - provided by extending into the original bathroom. The new master bedroom suite gained a triple-height window looking out over the back garden.
A new family bathroom was created in one of the old bedrooms and the attic was opened up fully to create a third floor, housing two more bedrooms. The garage was torn town to be replaced with a high-glazed atrium space and new entrance, which accommodated a new three-storey stairwell and serves the dual purpose of flooding light through the house on two levels.
The conclusion of the project took the house up to almost 2,500 sq ft, almost doubling the amount of space in the original 1950s semi design but, at the same time, ensuring that every inch of the new space provided was fully usable.
The renovation also installed solid oak internal doors, sandstone fireplaces to replace the old 1950s "cream cracker" tiled versions and solid walnut floors throughout by Edony & Co. The kitchen is bespoke built by Danish Design. So, overall, accommodation includes four bedrooms, one of which is ensuite, a substantial full-height entrance hall, a drawing room with sliding doors, which opens into the vast open plan kitchen, living room and dining room space. This, in turn, opens out fully on to the rear garden and to a large planted and furnished patio area. There's a utility room and a guest WC at ground floor level.
With the family's three children now reaching secondary school age and moving to a school outside the area, the family are reluctantly moving to accommodate their new schooling needs.
Rathfarnham is a well established south Dublin suburb with historic associations through its famous Castle and grounds, which are open to the public and well worth a tour.
The vast Bushy Park is also close by with its woodlands, fields and playgrounds, and this is also linked into the Dodder Linear Park which runs from Templeogue to Ballsbridge, taking in Terenure, Dartry, and Milltown en route with water life, kingfishers, bats and, lately, even otters to be seen occasionally along the way.
Another of Dublin's biggest parks, Marlay Park, is also within reach of this property and this comes with lakes, walks and a miniature steam railway.
Rathfarnham is located between Terenure, Templeogue and Churchtown, and the area includes the old village itself and there are three shopping centres close by at Rathfarnham, Dundrum and Nutgrove. Rathfarnham is also home to two long established golf clubs. Meantime, No49 is for sale, asking €895,000 through Sherry FitzGerald and seeking a buyer who will never feel detached from their semi.
49 Ballytore Road
Rathfarnham, Dublin 16
Asking price: €895,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald