29 Ellensborough Grove, Kiltipper, Dublin 24 Asking price: €750,000 Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (01) 4140004
When Jools Hannon was four, his mother would drop him off at a furniture factory for the day.
“My uncle owned it and if she needed child care she used to drive around there, hand me in to him and say, ‘can you look after him for the day?’ I absolutely loved that world.”
“There were old guys with mouthfuls of tacks spitting them out onto the heads of magnetic hammers to whack into chairs. They were amazing to watch. They wouldn’t use staple guns because they said it would ruin the craft.”
Having osmosed that handmade craft ethos from childhood, designer Jools would later have his own furniture factory along with his partner, the fashion and interior designer Gail O’Hanlon.
Their designs have been exported all over the world with clients in New York, San Francisco, Zurich and Brussels. Today the Irish sculptural furniture designers’ work can be found in private collections and in the best hotels.
Award-winning Hannon is probably best known for his radical collection of wildlife inspired sculptural chairs which include the rather alive looking leather patchwork ‘Merlin’ chair with its curly tail or ‘Willow’, a sumptuous polished leather seat with horns protruding from the back, both sold through Chi.
On the other hand, when Gail was four years old she was hosting art galleries in the hall of her family home and designing clothes for her dolls. O’Hanlon would go on to have her own retail fashion lines.
Later the two would work together, in a business providing a complete all-in furniture and interiors service.
The first and only house they bought together was the Durkan-built detached red brick at 29 Ellensborough Grove in Dublin’s Kiltipper which they moved into new back in 1999.
“We loved the area, right at the foot of the Dublin mountains and three minutes away from beautiful walks around the Bohernabreena Reservoir and further into the hills,” says Gail.
In recent years the couple have taken a step back. Having run a design house and related furniture factory for years, they have reverted back to slow craft.
“We were doing eighty hours a week and one day we just said ‘what are we doing here, life is passing us by,’” says Jools. Instead, today both work instead on a scaled down made-to-order basis for selected clients.
So what happens to a Dublin suburban estate house when it becomes home to two dedicated crafters, designers and creatives who are always casting a critical design eye on what they see?
“To be honest, we’ve changed absolutely everything. And I mean everything,” says Gail. “We’ve remade it with bespoke everything.”
From the doors to the skirts, to the kitchen, to the bathroom, the furniture, the crafty couple have bespoken the lot. To the degree that over two decades No29 has likely become Ireland’s most bespoke estate house.
Among the key touches are Gail’s underfloor heated dream bathroom with a double height ceiling to the rafters. Four monk statues of four feet high overlook the standalone scoop tub which has views to the mountains.
When Jools thought the hall was visually a dead end, he called in a crew and had it reconfigured.
“The door into the kitchen must be the only one in Ireland with cherry wood on one side and walnut on the other,” (to match the schemes in two different spaces).
The four-bed house with a garage was first extended out the back to provide new rooms, and then above at the side to provide Gail luxury bathroom.
They broke down the gable wall to open up the downstairs space and reoriented every room.
“The first thing we did was stake out the fitted wardrobes and things that came with the house,” says Gail.
In the main living room, a Henley wood-burning stove sits in the centre of a bespoke antique fossil stone fireplace redesigned and reimagined for its position as the centrepiece of this room. The sofas and chairs were also created specifically for the room.
The living room leads to a formal dining room with a bespoke bevelled glass-panelled wall designed to get daylight in.
Jools loves wood, particularly dark woods which are very in at the moment. Throughout the house you’ll find cherrywood, zebrano and walnut. But his favourite is the darker-than-ebony wenge from the Congo.
There are solid walnut wood floors throughout the downstairs leading to a travertine stone-tiled floor kitchen / pantry with fast temperature response underfloor heating.
The kitchen/dining area has those near eight foot high cherry / walnut bespoke bevelled glass French doors. The eleven window orangery is a favourite with Jools.
The bespoke central island is five metres long and topped with specially imported galaxy stone slab with a zero radius edge. In turn it sits on top of a custom-built solid cherry wood island and incorporates a twin sink and chrome spray tap.
One side of the island has double height shelving running the full length; the other side has black high gloss soft close drawers and a press with an integrated dishwasher.
Just off the kitchen is a pantry and utility room, with the pantry also featuring bespoke shelving finished in natural cherry with high gloss black cabinets and a solid stone work top.
The kitchen has a triple electric velux windows blind system fitted with rain sensors for automatic closing.
These are all remote controlled, which provides instant control of air and light at the touch of a button. Large timber patio doors (bespoke) lead to a private courtyard garden.
Of the four upstairs bedrooms, two have been repurposed as design offices.
Lighting was also a very very big part of their home design brief and literally every room has atmospheric strip lights and concealed ambient lighting,
The office sliding wall storage system also has an illuminated aftershave/perfume shelf with sunken spotlights.
But now, after 22 years, they’ve done everything they can and they have a restoration project in mind in Wicklow.
No29 comes to market with a tag of €795,000 through Sherry FitzGerald and an option to buy some of that high design bespoke furniture.