Words by Fran Power. Portrait by Frank McGrath
There's no doubt that the pandemic has reshaped the type of property that buyers are looking for. A new yen for a slice of garden or access to the countryside or sea has given country homes a boost, for example, while in Dublin it's all about the urban village.
Demand has always been good for properties in places like Ranelagh, Portobello or Stoneybatter. But post-lockdown, buyers have come to appreciate the benefits of living in a neighbourhood with a local butcher, or a cafe with good wifi for remote working when you grow tired of the wallpaper at home, while a place with a strong sense of community has become more important than ever.
No 26 Martin Street in Portobello ticks many of these boxes for potential buyers. During lockdown, there were 'socially distanced' workouts on the streets for the house-bound locals. The canal sits at one end of Martin Street and, during the summer, is a draw for walkers and picnickers. It's also the focus of regular community clean-ups.
There are plenty of neighbourhood spots, many of which have outdoor seating, such as Alma, Little Bird and Brother Hubbard, while on the banks of the Grand Canal, Locks restaurant and I Monelli are the places to book for an evening out.
According to the vendor, Aoife Van Wolveliere and her partner Tim Cole, "We love the fact that we can walk around the corner to the Bretzel Bakery when we get up on a Saturday morning. I love that when you walk up the street here you recognise your neighbours. Despite being so close to town, there's this lovely sense of community so you will actually get to know people in your local shops."
Aoife, who works in public relations, bought No 26 in 2010 for €392,000. She'd been looking for a while. "Portobello is lovely - a lot of the terraced houses look very, very similar on the outside and can look a little cookie cutter, but every single inside is totally different."
This is the case with No 26, where the previous owner had already added a clever double-height living room and mezzanine landing as a centrepoint to the house. "What took my breath away the minute I came into the living room was the double-height ceiling, which was so different and brings in so much light and space."
The front door opens on to a hall with a front room that is currently in use as Aoife's home office. It contains a sofa bed and doubles as a guest bedroom.
The hall leads on into the main living room with an east-facing, glass-roofed kitchen/dining room opening off it. The dining area has a glass-roofed section that throws more light into the space, while the kitchen is nicely set out with a good stretch of counter space to entice the cook.
Tim owns two American-style restaurants, one on George's Street and a second one in Tallaght. He enjoys strolling to the ethnic grocery stores on Richmond Street to find interesting ingredients to experiment with. "I'll buy this one thing, find out what it is and then cook it," he says.
The family bathroom with shower sits off a back hall. There's a small yard with a shed where the boiler, freezer, washing machine and dryer are all installed.
Aoife and Tim have added large amounts of built-in storage over the years - under the stairs, on the mezzanine landing upstairs, and in the bedroom.
"In a house this size you're very aware of storage," says Aoife. "It took us a few years to discover what you do need and where."
She is a self-confessed magpie and chief among her collections is the art that hangs everywhere, giving the space the atmosphere of a gallery.
"I need to move," she laughs, "to find a bigger space for my collections."
There is a good-sized bedroom upstairs that runs the full width of the house.
Martin Street has on-street parking, though prospective owners could happily live without a car and walk or cycle into town in less than 10 minutes. Bus and Luas are also just a few minutes' walk away.
No 26 would be well suited to a young couple. For those just starting a family, there are a number of schools nearby - Griffith Barracks Educate Together, St Claire's, Ranelagh Multi-Denominational School, St Louis and St Mary's. But it would also appeal to downsizers who wish to have a manageable home close to the city centre, and within easy reach of shops and transport.
Aoife and Tim are looking for a larger house, ideally in the area.
"We've thought about what we want to do in the next 15 to 20 years," says Aoife. "And that probably means family - you could definitely have family in this house, but we want a bigger family than a two-bed could allow us."
Agent: DNG Central (01) 679 4088
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