Monday 18 December 2017

Bright lights in Docklands

Couple flipped a damp, musty council house upside down and with a budget of €150,000 created a spacious renovated home bathed in natural light for their young daughters, writes Caitriona Murphy

Julie-Ann and Leonard Harrison in their extensively renovated Dublin home.
Julie-Ann and Leonard Harrison in their extensively renovated Dublin home.

It takes a certain type of person to buy a damp and musty council house and look beyond the broken windows and avocado bathroom suite to realise its full potential.

Yet in 2006, that's exactly what Julie-Ann and Leonard Harrison did, by taking on a massive renovation and extension project on a terraced former council property.

In the four years since securing their home, Number 194 East Wall Road, in Dublin 3, the property has been transformed into an airy, open-plan modern home.

"It was the location that we loved," explained Leonard. "Julie-Ann works in Donnybrook and her mam lives in Ringsend so East Wall was perfect for us."

Julie-Ann was expecting their second daughter, and the expanding Harrison clan needed a family home with room for both Isabel, now four, and her older sister Penelope, now five.

However, aside from its location, the property had little to recommend it.

"It was 'in need of complete modernisation'," laughed Leonard. "So you can imagine what it was like."

The 59.5sqm (640sq ft) house consisted of a damp porch leading to a dark hallway, off which were the sitting room, galley kitchen and dining room.

Upstairs, there were two bedrooms and a pokey bathroom.

However the 42ft-long garden to the rear offered potential to extend and, having paid close to €370,000 on the house, the couple set a budget of €150,000 for a complete renovation.

They enlisted the help of architect Fionnan de Barra, who they coaxed out of semi-retirement for the job.

"We knew we wanted open plan living," explains Julie-Ann. "But getting light into a house this narrow is always a problem."

However, their architect proposed an unusual solution -- to literally flip the house upside down.

By moving the main living areas to the first floor and using the darker ground floor for bedrooms, it would be easier to maximise light entering the house, he suggested.

Seizing on the idea immediately, the couple applied for planning permission for a substantial rear extension that almost doubled the house's size to 118sqm (1,270sqft).

Today, the house is a spacious contemporary home with the main living quarters on the first floor, laid out in one large open-plan room.

This space incorporates the kitchen, living and dining areas, as well as a striking glass atrium.

Three Velux windows overhead flood the room with light, while a set of French doors leading out to an elevated veranda create a sense of spaciousness not associated with a council house.

The couple had sought planning permission to create a rooftop garden with spiral staircase leading down to the decked and gravelled rear garden but were refused.

Downstairs, the layout has been cleverly designed to maximise both light and space.

Leading off the outer porch/hallway is an inner hallway with built-in wardrobes and storage space.

"The sliding wardrobes make better use of what would be dead space otherwise," said Julie-Ann.

The master bedroom is en suite and there is also a shower room and a utility room to the rear.

The property is now for sale and asking €360,000.

Contact Douglas Newman Good on 01 8331802

Irish Independent

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