Saturday 22 September 2018

Peek Inside: A home with space for a growing family in fashionable Dublin 8

The rear garden provides parking for three cars

The drawing room retains many period features.
The drawing room retains many period features.
The front door of 78 Heytesbury Street
78 Heytesbury Street is a period redbrick over three levels
The kitchen with fireplace
The landing
The drawing room leads through to the kitchen/dining room
The renowned Bretzel Bakery

Katy McGuinness

Is there a nicer part of the city in which to live than Portobello, with its attractive streets of mainly redbrick houses, many of them charming villas, and proliferation of interesting shops, cafes and restaurants? Probably not, which is why property prices in the area have risen so dramatically in recent years.

Number 78 Heytesbury Street sits on the corner of Pleasants Street, which happens to be home to the very best of Portobello's excellent eateries, including Meet Me in the Morning and the Sova Vegan Butcher restaurant that serves vegetables masquerading as meat to blissful vegans. And if you like your bread baked freshly every day, as well as a choice of tasty gateaux and lunches, the renowned Bretzel Bakery & Cafe is also nearby.

For young professional buyers, Portobello is even more desirable than Ranelagh, Ballsbridge and Clontarf, thanks to its proximity to the city centre and the fact that residents can walk or cycle to work with relative ease, and make it to the theatre, cinema and other cultural events in the evening. These days, though, there are very few young professional buyers who can afford Portobello so it's no longer the first-home territory it was once.

Most of the houses are bijou in scale, with few having more than 1,000 sq ft of living space, and so the couples who did manage to get a toehold in Portobello back in the day find that things can get pretty squished when they start having children and need bedroom space for these little, permanent residents rather than just the occasional guest.

Perhaps they soldier on while their children are small, because pre-schoolers don't take up much space and are amenable to sharing rooms, but the novelty of bunk-beds soon wears off and, by the time the little darlings reach secondary school age, they will need a room of their own in which to study (ha!), sulk and torture themselves to distraction with social media.

At this point, most families will decide to surrender their convenient city-centre lifestyle and make a reluctant beeline for the 'burbs, where they'll find a nice house with enough space bedrooms for everyone, and the parents will spend the rest of their working lives commuting in and out of town. And when it comes to college, their offspring will moan endlessly about how far out of town they live (a perennial excuse for missing 9am lectures) and how expensive it is to get home after a night out. Those with a brass neck may even start angling for a city-centre pad of their own.

And then, when they graduate and finally move out (around the age of thirty is par for the course apparently), or emigrate, their parents will be left stuck in the boonies with plenty of free time on their hands to attend art openings, literary events and the like, except that all those are happening back in the city centre and they'll have to leave the car at home if they want a glass of wine. Moving out of town isn't obligatory, though, and there are indications that city-living for families is starting to be seen as desirable, in the way that it is in other countries.

Number 78 Heytesbury Street, with its 2,110 sq ft of living space, is a house that would be ideal for a family already established in the community and wanting to trade up from a smaller house, or one that's had enough of the suburbs, sees the college years looming and is ready to move into the thick of things and have an adventure.

Number 78 last came to the market in 2017 with a different estate agent, then priced at €950,000. It did not sell, and is now back on again with a fresh coat of paint and some new carpets, asking €75,000 less. On a per-square-foot calculation, the price offers better value than many of the smaller houses in the area, and, as it has been refurbished in recent years including a new gas-fired central heating system, is ready to occupy.

There's a flight of granite steps up to the front door and the entrance hall is as high-ceilinged and elegant as one could hope for, with two interconnecting rooms to the left. The current owners have made the front one of these a drawing room and put the kitchen into the back, which is a much happier use of the space than consigning the best rooms in the house to being used as rarely-utilised formal reception rooms.

With morning light from the east at the back of the house, and evening sun from the west at the front, the rooms feel bright and airy. Although the house was once divided into flats, it retains some period features.

There's a shower-room on the return up to the first floor where there are two bedrooms and a family bathroom. At garden level are two more bedrooms, a family/playroom that opens out into the back garden, a study and a cloakroom. The garden to the rear is pebbled, has rear vehicular access and provides parking for three cars, but new owners could retain one parking bay and consider extending the house, subject to planning permission, and reinstate a more attractive garden.

78 Heytesbury Street

Portobello, Dublin 8

Asking price: €875,000

Agent: O'Connor Shannon, (01) 4968111

Indo Property

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