A €2m trophy home in D14 with yoga room, turrets, and a subterranean lair
Sakura, 110 Churchtown Road Lower, Dublin 14, €2m
In London, they call them icebergs, the houses with super-basements that belong to the city's affluent bankers, hedgies and other movers and shakers.
They may be large and imposing on the outside, but inside they are absolutely massive. You'll find them in areas such as Notting Hill, and their excavation and construction can be a source of disagreement between neighbours, as Robbie Williams and Jimmy Page famously could attest.
The difficulty with super-basements is that they are in effect a very expensive and complicated form of retro-fitting, and aside from the noise and inconvenience that accompanies any building project in a tight urban location, they carry additional risks in terms of possible collapse and damage to the foundations.
Which is why Michael Henry decided to avoid those dangers from the very outset - by incorporating a large basement into the house that he and his wife built on the site of a modest cottage in Churchtown back in 2007, at the very peak of Celtic Tiger.
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The couple had lived with their family in the small cottage for almost two decades before they retained the services of architect Andrew Whittaker and applied for planning permission to demolish it and replace it with a much larger house.
"We spent many years thinking about the house that we wanted to build," says Michael, "so every last detail of the house was thought through before construction commenced. I had always liked the way that American houses had these big multi-purpose basements and decided that we should have one here. I didn't have a particular use for it in mind - and over the years we have used it for different things - but I knew that I wanted the house to have one."
From the front of the house, the basement is not visible - it is only when one walks around to the back of the house that it comes into view, its tall floor-to-ceiling glazed doors opening out on to a west-facing terrace, from where steps lead up to the garden.
It would be open to new owners to look at installing a lift if, perhaps, they wished to use the basement as a granny flat for an elderly relative and wanted to make it accessible; there is already a shower-room at this level. Alternatively, it could become a home cinema or games room, a teenage den, a gym, or a spacious studio or home office.
That basement is just one of the features of Sakura that will appeal to deep-pocketed buyers on the hunt for a large contemporary house within easy reach of the city centre.
The design of the house is unusual, with the exterior featuring two distinctive turrets and red roofs.
"Andrew has a thing for turrets!" says Michael. "I ran with the idea instantly, but my wife took a little more persuading. Once they were up, she loved them."
From the double front doors there is a view straight through the house all the way back to the garden, and it's immediately apparent that the house is as different as its owners wanted it to be.
To the left of the entrance hall are a study and family room, with a bedroom suite to the right.
Immediately behind this is a hand-built double helix staircase that ascends dramatically up into the front turret and leads to the bedrooms on the first floor.
The central section of the house is taken up by a large, double-height living room, with three sets of double doors and a feature fireplace with an ash box large enough to collect the debris from 21 fires - Michael has counted them - before having to be emptied. Behind this is the open-plan kitchen/ dining room overlooking the rear garden.
Upstairs, the two double bedrooms to the front are en suite, and a galleried landing leads to two further bedrooms at the back; with a turret room designed for yoga and meditation off the main bedroom. There's also a smaller bedroom used as a home study, and a large bathroom with a Jacuzzi bath and walk-in power shower. There is a pressurised water system throughout, a centralised vacuum system, underfloor heating and a BER of B3.
The rear garden was designed by George Downer, a graduate of the National Botanic Gardens, and will appeal to young families, as there is plenty of room for goalposts, swings, slides and trampolines, as well as for vegetable growing, should new owners be so inclined. In total, the site extends to one-third of an acre.
The Lower Churchtown Road can be tricky when it comes to parking, but Sakura has a large gravelled area to the front behind electric gates that are set back from the road, with more room for cars to one side.
"For one family event we had 15 cars parked here," says Michael.
Now that their family is grown, the couple are down-sizing and will be staying in the area.
"Why would we leave?" says Michael. "Churchtown has everything, and the Luas stop at Windy Arbour is just five minutes' walk away."
5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms
Size 420 sqm
Agent Savills (01) 6634300
Viewing By appointment