Wednesday 18 July 2018

Building a dream in Blackrock: Inside this €650k Victorian-inspired home

The unique 'Victorian' at Village Green existed for five years before it was built in 2004

The exterior at night
The exterior at night
The family room
The sitting room with bay window
The bespoke stairs
The sandstone fronted entrance
The salvaged period washstand
The hand-built Scavallini kitchen
The exterior of the home by day
One of No 7's six ensuite bedrooms
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

No 7 Village Green in Blackrock, Co Louth is technically 18 years old - even though it was completed in 2004 and looks 120. For five years prior to construction it was a fully imaginary dwelling carried about in the heads of two people.

Much like novels yet to be written down but mulled over by their author-to-be; dream homes can exist in the dreamer's head for years before coming to fruition. Sometimes they are never built at all and simply fade from the mind's eye. But during the "dream" period we often renovate them based on new inspirations and cold practicalities. The couple who commissioned No 7 Village Green at the scenic coastal village of Blackrock in Co Louth, imagined and altered it for five years in microscopic detail before it was built.

Originally they wanted a Victorian red-brick but versions they viewed were too expensive to restore. So they opted to build an "old" Victorian home from scratch and to make it as authentic as was practical while adding in their preferred modern touches.

They started a scrap book. In it they put photographs taken over years of period properties that inspired them. Her sister lives in Dublin near the city's finest Victorians of Ailesbury and Shrewsbury and many snaps of these were collected. There was a river-front house in Tyrone which gave them the idea for baronial stone facing at the entrance. Sometimes components were so inspirational that they were acquired on the spot and saved for the house that didn't yet exist - the show-stopping Victorian cast-iron wash stand was acquired at a salvage sale.

The family room
The family room

So before No 7 was started, it had already been altered - gaining a new sandstone frontage and an extra bedroom, but losing a plush oversized bathroom and a traditional kitchen with a range. "With four children and a need for having guests stay over, we realised that it was better to have an extra bedroom with all of them ensuite so the huge bathroom went. We also realised that a range with planned underfloor heating would make the kitchen way too hot. So in the end we ditched this plan in favour of a contemporary kitchen. As the kids said, 'we eat stir fries around here, not stews and casseroles'." They scoured Ireland for brick types until they found versions they liked at a new scheme in Mount Merrion. They contacted the builders to find the brickmakers. "You can become quite bold at being a detective when you're determined on your dream home," she says. "We saw the doors we wanted in a chateau in France. We later discovered very few joiners want to make authentic solid two-panel doors."

So they took their big scrapbook, notes, photos and downloads to an architect. But it took a few gos before he became the third person to see No 7. "The first design he came up with bore no relation to what we had in our heads so we sent him back to try again," says one of the owners. Finally the house was started in 2003 and finished in 2004. The dream was finally realised in style.

No 7 has been so meticulously imagined in its period detail that it's hard to believe it's not Victorian. There are a few give aways (the uPVC window frames because timber was out of budget) and the soffet boards (ditto). Most of it is bespoke - the floors, doors, stairs, wardrobes and panels all handmade. Accommodation includes an entrance hall with stained glass panels and a Victorian mosaic tiled floor, a sitting room and family room - both with limestone fireplaces and walnut floors. There's a play room, a study and a Scavallini handcrafted kitchen with Italian limestone floor, granite tops and Neff units. This interlinks with the family room and the dining area. Upstairs there are six bedrooms all with power shower ensuites. The master chamber has a pitched ceiling, walk-in wardrobe and a double sink and Jacuzzi bath. The garden was been landscaped by the designer Paul Martin.

The views are out to sea and to the Cooley mountains while the sun moves through the house from front to rear through the day. Blackrock, Co Louth is a scenic seaside town 40 minutes from both Belfast and Dublin. If No 7 was in Dublin's Blackrock it would be €2.5m. But buyers can have this six-bedroom, five-reception seaside home for the price of a terrace at its Dublin namesake suburb. Imagine that.

7 Village Green

Blackrock, Co Louth

The sitting room with bay window
The sitting room with bay window

Asking price: €650,000

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Carroll (042) 9332173

The hand-built Scavallini kitchen
The hand-built Scavallini kitchen

Indo Property

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