D4 home of former retail boss hits market
29 Anglesea Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 €2.15m
By the time that Tom and Catherine Rea bought their home on Anglesea Road in Ballsbridge, opposite St Mary's Church, 15 years ago, they were already veterans of the house-moving game.
The couple spent the early years of their marriage based in the UK, where Tom's job required him to be "completely flexible" as to where they lived.
"We lived in London, Leeds, Huddersfield, Stoke-on-Trent and Glasgow," says Tom. "By the time we hit 30, we had bought and sold three houses."
Back in Dublin, Tom took on a role in senior management at department store Switzers (located in what is now Brown Thomas on Grafton Street), where he was responsible, among other things, for the magical Christmas window displays imported from Germany each year.
Later, he worked at Clery's as general manager. In 1991 he commissioned a new clock for the front of the store from clockmakers Stokes of Cork to mark 50 years of ownership by the Guiney family.
"Dublin retailing is rather sad these days," he says, "now that none of the old families are involved any longer. Personality retailing - the kind that Feargal Quinn was so good at - is gone."
The Reas bought and refurbished houses in Blackrock and on Wellington Road before purchasing No 29 Anglesea Road in 2004.
"We saw it on a Saturday, came back to see it on Monday and had agreed to buy it by the Thursday," says Tom.
The Reas lived in the house - 'getting the feel of it' - for a few years before embarking on a major extension and upgrading plan between 2008 and 2009. The result is a luxurious, grown-up family house into which new owners could move straightaway.
From the outside, there is no expectation of just how far the house is going to go back, nor of how much space there is. A jaunty tiled path leads to the double-doored entrance porch, which in turn leads to the front door, with its leaded glass and side panels.
The entrance hall has a fine parquet floor and the restrained cornicing synonymous with the Edwardian era, a feature that distinguishes houses of the period from those displaying the more exuberant Victorian interior architecture that preceded it.
To the left are two interconnecting reception rooms, the drawing room to the front and the formal dining room to the rear, both with marble fireplaces.
So far so expected - the palette is tasteful and elegant, the decor exactly what one would hope to find in a traditional period house, the house furnished with antiques purchased on Dublin's Francis Street, beautiful mirrors sourced by specialist dealer John Farringdon and on their travels abroad, particularly in Italy. ("We are shopaholics!" say the couple - just as well given Tom's background in retailing.)
But descend the steps from the dining room to the lower level - passing a clever concealed bar on the way - and a huge contemporary kitchen/ breakfast/ living space, bright and airy thanks to huge overhead skylights, is revealed. At its end, floor-to-ceiling glazed sliding doors open out on to the landscaped garden beyond.
Having done up so many houses in their time, Tom and Catherine were able to draw up the plans for the extension themselves. "We knew exactly what we wanted," says Catherine - enlisting help for the detail of the kitchen design from Michael Farrell of Enniscorthy.
Catherine is an accomplished cook who likes to entertain. Tom says with admiration that his wife is "completely unfazed" by the prospect of preparing and serving a dinner party for 12 without help. (He, meanwhile, admits to being unable to boil an egg.)
This is clearly a kitchen in which every detail was planned meticulously, and the all-singing, all-dancing result will please the most demanding of chefs. In fact, it is so well equipped - there are two of everything from sinks to dishwashers - that it could work as a demonstration space for anybody involved in food and hoping to work from home.
Among the features of the kitchen are smart built-in storage and display cabinets, a large island unit topped with Silestone, a four-oven Aga and hotplate ("it goes on at the start of October and stays on until the start of May to keep everything cosy", says Tom), an integrated steel extractor hood, Miele gas hob, integrated fridge-freezer, oven, microwave, coffee maker and hot drawer.
A Thermomix positioned on the counter is further evidence that Catherine takes her cooking seriously.
Off the kitchen is a handy utility room, and there is a well-organised basement storage area that could be used for anything from wine to sports equipment.
Also on the ground floor is a guest lavatory.
The family room that opens out on to the garden is fitted with a wood-burning stove, and the garden stretches back 83ft, with a patio near the house and a pretty gazebo at its end. The garden is professionally landscaped, attractive, and still surprisingly large given how much of it was given over to the extension.
On the first return is a study that a family with children might decide to use as a bedroom, while the main bedroom suite occupies the whole of the first floor, with the bedroom and en suite shower room to the front and, to the back, a dressing room that's large enough to make the most demanding of fashion mavens go weak at the knees. This could easily be returned to bedroom use if required.
On the return, there is another bedroom and adjacent bathroom, with a third bedroom and en suite shower room on the second floor.
As currently configured, No 29 has three bedrooms and three bathrooms (as well as two loos) but the bedroom count could be upped to five with very little disruption.
To the front there is off-street parking for two cars, although Tom and Catherine say they walk everywhere because the location is so convenient. "I barely do 3,000km a year!" says Tom.
The couple are downsizing but will be staying in the area, close to their beloved Herbert Park where they walk each morning, rain or shine, and bring their grandchildren to play as often as possible.
Era Edwardian, early 20th Century
5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
Agent Property Team O'Mahony (01) 298 3500
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