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Maximalist family home with secret staircase on market for €795k

  • Grace Park House, Drumcondra, Dublin 9
  • Asking price: €795k
  • Agent: Leonard Wilson Keenan (01) 860 3268

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Exterior of 1896-built Grace Park House

Exterior of 1896-built Grace Park House

Entrance hall with stained glass door and gilded wallpaper

Entrance hall with stained glass door and gilded wallpaper

Staircase

Staircase

gracepk

gracepk

Another sitting room

Another sitting room

British officers photographed in the area in the early 1900s

British officers photographed in the area in the early 1900s

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Exterior of 1896-built Grace Park House

As the decade came to a close, a backlash set in against the fashion for minimalist open-plan living spaces with crisp grey walls, clean lines, and understated furnishings.

The maximalist design revival rose from that backlash. But Anna and John Smyth's eclectic time-capsule home at Grace Park Gardens in Drumcondra, was carpeted and decorated during the last 1970s/80s wave of maximalism. It has remained largely untouched since. So you could say that it has been placed on the market at a trend-opportune moment.

The retired couple's three-storey redbrick Victorian terraced house is festooned with treasured heirlooms, such as the Pilot radio set and the dining room chairs passed down from Anna's grandmother. Loud brown and blue patterned, rich intricate floral and striped carpets, there since the day the Smyths moved in back in 1989, today mix it up with multi-patterned wallpaper, in a look that some of the young trendy maximalist designers have been emulating of late.

Grace Park Gardens is a terrace of 13 houses originally built for British army officers between 1896 and 1902. The bowling green to the front of the tree-lined terrace and the tennis courts at its cul-de-sac are part of the Ierne Social and Sports Club. Anna understands the club's grounds were built as a park for the army officers who lived at Grace Park Gardens. It also comes with a secret hidden staircase. But more about that later.

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Entrance hall with stained glass door and gilded wallpaper

Entrance hall with stained glass door and gilded wallpaper

Entrance hall with stained glass door and gilded wallpaper

The visual cacophony of the interiors at the Smyths' 1896-built Grace Park House is very much an antithesis to the recent stripped-down overhauls of two other homes at Grace Park Gardens. No 13 was transformed into six high-end apartments, while another property featured in the finale of last year's Room to Improve.

Part of presenter Dermot Bannon's work involved designing a tall, glazed rear extension for an enlarged kitchen - complete with an altar-style countertop - and dining space that could usher in more light. The galley kitchen at Grace Park House is in contrast accommodated in a rear flat-roofed extension. Anna says the original architects of her house deployed clever uses of natural lighting, such as a circular stained glass skylight above the first-floor landing and a rear sash window for the curved bannisters as they wind their way to the second floor.

The next residents of Grace Park House would, however, have to reconfigure the layout if they want a single family home. After the Smyths moved in, they ran the four-bed, 1,991-sq ft house as a B&B for five years, turning two bedrooms into en suites, and later added a small kitchen to the top floor to create a self-contained unit. The house will also require a general upgrade.

The home and its neat front garden are set behind black railings, and the recessed doorway has a bright-green front door with stained glass panels overhead. Indeed, stained glass is a dominant theme in the front living areas. The front door opens onto a porch, which has encaustic tiles to the floor and walls and another interior door with stained glass panelling. The rich gilded wallpaper to the entrance hall sets the tone for the rest of the house, which has coving, carved arches, picture rails and timberwork.

In the middle of the ground floor is an informal sitting room, which was initially the kitchen used by servants. What appears to be a small cupboard in this room opens onto a narrow hidden staircase that was once used by live-in maids serving the officers in residence. This leads upstairs to what was a maid's bedroom.

Off the informal sitting room is a narrow breakfast room and kitchen. A utility room behind a kitchen alcove links to the outdoor shed in the back yard.

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Another sitting room

Another sitting room

Another sitting room

Inside, the first-floor return is home to a guest toilet, a bathroom, and a bedroom with a dressing area. The dressing area was originally a maid's bedroom and it is here that the hidden stairs emerges.

The crowning glory is the living room that spans the entire width of the first floor; this 234-sq ft space commands views of the bowling green from two windows with stained glass panels. The room's centrepiece is an original fireplace with a tiled insert.

Behind this living room is an en suite bedroom, while the second floor has a landing, two bedrooms, a tiny kitchen, and a shower room.

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