A seaside special . . .
IT can feel like the divide between the northside and the southside of Dublin has been around almost since time began.
We all know the stereotypes, but the popped collar rugby player decked out in Ralph Lauren chinos from Dublin 4 versus the shell suited football player from the northside of the river is neither fair nor accurate to either side.
Residents of the northside suburb of Clontarf however, tend to be quite happy to let the stereotypes perpetuate.
Clontarf's charms are hardly what anybody might call a secret -- quite the opposite to be honest -- but the fact remains that a well-refurbished period home looking out on to the sea on Clontarf's promenade, is in every way a match, if not superior, to an equivalent property across Dublin Bay, and yet it rarely commands the same prohibitive price tag.
Sea Haven at 222 Clontarf Road, Dublin 3 is one such property.
This three bedroom home looks out across the bay, providing a view that, on a clear day, could be anywhere on the French Riviera. Nice's Promenade des Anglais cannot hold a candle to Dublin's seafront on a clear winter morning, even if the seafront here tends not to be populated by women in fur coats and €500 sunglasses.
Given the location and the ambience of the surrounding area, it is perhaps not surprising that agents Douglas Newman Good claim to be "proud" to offer what they call a "magnificent" property to the market.
Sea Haven has been renovated from top to bottom and now white is the main colour throughout.
The property has had its price reduced to some €835,000 in line with the wider market but is still seen as an ideal family home.
Setting the right price for a house such as this has been difficult to say the least in post-bust Ireland.
As the market kept falling, there was no sign of a bottom, and without a bottom, it became almost impossible to price houses in certain areas accurately.
With the market beginning to show some signs of stabilisation, however, prices in Clontarf have begun to rise again, and setting that asking price has become a much more manageable task.
The 1,916 sq ft property is a double fronted, early Victorian/Regency family home, which dates from 1836.
Back then the house would have been most likely used as a summer or country residence for a wealthy family. Nowadays it is a mere 25 minutes from the centre of the city centre and that sort of location has made Clontarf so popular for city workers.
In this case though, both halves of the couple who currently own it have installed their own office space in the building.
Upon entering the property it is clear that while the house is nearly 170 years old, the fittings and appliances inside are a far cry from the nineteenth century.
The home has been "magnificently transformed" inside by the current owners, claim DNG, and it is not hard to see how.
Clearly no expense has been spared on redoing the house from top to bottom.
The changes have resulted in what is described as a "beautifully restored and versatile family home".
Cream and white are the main colours throughout the house in its current form.
The house features what DNG describes as "generous" reception and bedroom accommodation.
A wealth of period detail has been maintained by the vendors, including original fireplaces, high ceilings, cornicing and architraves which are blended with the modern comforts and contemporary design buyers expect to have available to them today.
The reception rooms are bright and light filled. Clearly that is in part a reaction to the bright colours used in the rooms, but when the sun shines on the seafront, this south facing house will be drenched in sunlight.
Top quality materials are said to have been used throughout the refurbishing, with Italian marble in particular used throughout the property.
The kitchen and dining area is in a contemporary style and is very much the centre of the house.
The kitchen itself features built in appliances with a marble topped island, and provides extensive space to cook, eat or even just chill out as may be required at the time.
The real place for relaxing however, is out the back of the premises.
The rear garden has been laid is a mix of a gravel and "stunning" granite patio. That space alone makes it ideal for summer dining -- a patio like that without a barbecue would almost be a crime -- but the garden also has a degree of privacy that perhaps would not have been expected in a property such as this.
The gravel area provides for two car parking spaces if required, accessible via a laneway at the rear of the building.
Three bedrooms upstairs include a master bedroom that looks out across the bay.
The house is a versatile one. The current occupiers have converted one of the bedrooms into one giant dressing room or walk in wardrobe space, but as anyone will know, that space can be switched back to a bedroom in a very straightforward manner. For those who would prefer to retain it in its current use, the room is equipped with substantial wardrobe space as it is.
The advantage with a double fronted home like this of course, is that both reception rooms can be positioned to the front of the house. That is the case in Sea Haven.
As you would expect, the view across the bay plays a huge role in these rooms, but the original cast iron fireplaces have been retained, forming the centre piece of the main reception room.
The home is in superb condition, but clearly the market is still finding a space for it. With limited room for extending the premises, Sea Haven may not work for larger families thanks to the inability to accommodate a fourth bedroom in its current form. Nevertheless the house is likely to attract inquiries from smaller families or even parents that have seen the first of their children leave the nest and are now looking for something more in keeping with the reduced numbers living at home.
Nevertheless, the location of the property will likely be the key attraction for any prospective buyer.
It is always surprising to find just how many people living in Clontarf grew up in the area originally. Very few Clontarf natives seem to leave the suburb by choice.
And why would they? Barely a half hour from town, in a setting that -- on the sunny days -- could pass for the south of France, there is a lot to be said for it, even if it is on the northside.
You never know, a property like Sea Haven may even bring in a southsider or two. There could be more mixing of popped Ralph Lauren collars with shell suited footballers. And that would be no bad thing at all.
For details on Sea Haven contact Melanie Brady at Douglas Newman Good 01 8331802.