Life Homes

Friday 19 September 2014

Restored Rathgar Victorian home hits the market at €1.275m

This Dublin home has returned to grandeur after an extensive remodel.

Katy McGuinness

Published 05/09/2014 | 02:30

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The sitting room in 5 Belleville Avenue
The garden of 5 Belleville Avenue
5 Belleville avenue's living space

Renovating houses can become addictive, as the owners of Cara, 5 Belleville Avenue, can surely attest. Having done up their semi-detached Rathgar villa to within an inch of its life, they are itchy for another restoration project.

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And as their family is now almost grown, they are downsizing and on the hunt for a smaller period house, perhaps in the city centre. Cara has given them a taste for urban living.

The sitting room in 5 Belleville Avenue

Belleville Avenue is a quiet, blink-and-you'd-miss-it cul-de-sac off Rathgar Road. There's a pedestrian route through to Vernon Grove, which is a handy short cut over to the Upper Rathmines Rd. A few larger detached villa houses of approximately the same vintage as Cara sit opposite, and there are some 20th century semis as well.

Rathgar is one of Dublin's most genteel neighbourhoods, positioned between Terenure, Rathmines, Dartry and Harold's Cross. It's an area mainly comprised of red-brick period houses that would have been built for the Victorian middle classes, interspersed with some much larger properties.

Cara sits on a generous plot and has gardens to the front, side and rear. Electric gates from the street open on to a paved area with parking for several cars. There is also a detached garage that is currently used for storage.

The front garden is walled and hedged, providing a quiet area between the house and the street directly in front; two of the downstairs bedrooms look out over this. The owners have built a substantial single storey extension in the garden to the side of the house, giving Cara a total floor area of 2,150 sq feet.

Granite steps lead up to the front door, located to the left of the house as you face it, but there is also an entrance at the garden level from the parking area, adjacent to the kitchen.

The garden of 5 Belleville Avenue

This door is the one that the family would use most often, and is handy for bringing in shopping directly to the kitchen.

The front door has a period fanlight and leaded glass windows on either side. First impressions are that Cara is in good decorative condition, with lively colour schemes and neutral carpets used throughout. One of the owners is an art teacher and collector, and there is an eclectic array of pieces on display throughout the house. Many of the Victorian period features have been restored.


The entrance hallway leads on to a corridor that runs the width of the house. The drawing room is entered through a door to the right off the corridor, and it occupies the width of the house to the front, with two restored sash windows.

The original marble fireplace with cast iron inset is intact, and some original feature - including the centre rose, ceiling coving and picture rail - have been restored. This is an airy and light-filled room designed for entertaining.

5 Belleville Avenue's bedroom

To the rear of the house, off the corridor, are the master bedroom, a single bedroom/study and a large bathroom. The master bedroom is kitted out with a bespoke headboard, dressing table and wardrobes in a dramatic purple acrylic gesso paint finish by artist Genevieve Murphy.

The room has a lovely sash window to one side. The adjacent single bedroom could also be used as a study.

The bathroom is fitted with a period style, cast iron claw-foot bath with brass fittings. There is a separate corner shower unit, and the room has a period cast iron fireplace in one corner.

Stairs at the end of the passage lead down to the lower level, where there are two double bedrooms, a single bedroom/study and a family sitting room, as well as a shower room and utility room.

The exterior of 5 Belleville avenue


The two double bedrooms are well suited to teenagers; one is decorated with floral wallpaper and painted floorboards in a feminine style, and the other with a polished wood floor and a more masculine colour scheme.

Both rooms have built-in wardrobes, and one has a built-in study desk. The small bedroom on this level is currently used as a study and has a door that opens on to the garden, making it a very pleasant space in which to work. There is good under-stair storage on this level, with plenty of room for bed linen and towels.

The kitchen/breakfast room is located in a modern single-storey extension to one side of the house. It's a large open-plan space fitted with a Poggenpohl kitchen with polished beech and granite counter tops. The room faces the garden on all sides and has four large sliding doors. Part of the roof is glazed, adding to the sense of light and space.

The garden is designed as a series of areas in which to sit and catch the sun at different times of the day.

Box hedges enclose beds of formal planting, and the garden has been designed by Anne Kennedy to ensure a year-round display of colour.

A family with young children may find the garden as currently configured unsuitable for their needs, as there is no lawn, nor room for play equipment.

While it would be a pity to undo the design work that has been done, it would be possible to make it more child-friendly and still retain some of the mature planting. A small garden shed is used as a fuel store.

In the Middle Ages, Rathgar was a farm owned by the Convent of St Mary de Hogges, located at what is now College Green. On the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in the 16th century, the land was granted to the Segrave family, who built Rathgar Castle, thought to have been located at what is now 44 - 49 Highfield Road.

Ownership of the castle passed to John Cusack, Lord Mayor of Dublin, in the early 17th Century, and it is thought to have fallen in to ruins by the end of the 18th Century. No trace of it now remains.

Rathgar village began to develop in the eighteenth century and, by the time that Cara was built in the 1860s, had become a sizeable community. Zion Church on Bushy Park Rd and Christ Church on Highfield Rd were built at around the same time.

These days the village is a chic little enclave with some fine restaurants (Bijou and the Nepalese cooking at Lumanti are particularly good) and a branch of the Organic Supermarket due to open its doors any day now.

The new Rathgar hockey club is based at High School, and Rathgar tennis club is active.

Schools in the area include Rathgar Junior School, High School, Alexandra College, St Mary's and St Louis, Rathmines, making it a good choice for families wanting to live within easy reach of the city centre, to which there are good bus connections.

5 Belleville Avenue, Rathgar, Dublin 6. Asking price: €1.275m. Agent: Sherry Fitzgerald Terenure, Dublin 6 (01) 4907433

5 Belleville Avenue's kitchen

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