Penthouse queens return
Design duo are back in Ballsbridge to transform the penthouse that "got away"
Last year, Houzz, the international online bible for interior design and architecture, ranked No 14 Embassy Court in Dublin 4 as the 25th most stylish penthouse apartment in the world - from a list of 100. As a result, the pictures were downloaded in numbers for inspiration by designers and interiors enthusiasts from around the globe.
Not bad at all given that we Irish simply don't do high-level stylish apartment fit outs like they do in New York, London, Paris and many other European capitals. Also consider that home based Irish interior design has simply not broken through internationally in the same way home grown architecture has done through the work of firms like Grafton, ODOS and O'Donnell Tuomey.
Embassy Court, at Prince of Wales Terrace in Ballsbridge, which was for many years the home of Hollywood actor Colin Farrell, also likely holds the record for the most money ever paid out for an Irish apartment. The Houzz acclaimed No 14 changed hands for €2.5m in the middle of last year. It shows that attitudes have changed towards luxury apartments in the right locations in recent years, as indicated by the €5m sale recently agreed (but not yet registered) for the best unit at nearby Lansdowne Place booked by property magnate Stephen Vernon.
The striking design scheme at Embassy Court, which mixes contemporary and classic styles in even measure, was courtesy of the young firm Phoenix Interior Design set up in 2014 by Angelina Ball and Grace MacDonald.
This week the designers are back at the development for the first time in two years to size up the penthouse that "got away." Number 15 is a three-bedroom apartment and the only one not be sold by the developers with the rest of the entire scheme early last year. It has now come to market and the services of Phoenix to redesign and completely refurnish it including tiling work, is being offered for an additional €70,000 on top of the asking price of €1.795m.
The exclusive complex of 16 apartments (with three penthouses) and a reconfigured gate lodge was originally developed by Twinlite back in 2004 to a design by McCrossan O'Rourke Manning. From then on they were rented out as luxury short-lets by the developer until brought to market last year.
At this point, Ball and MacDonald were called in by the developer Eugene Larkin in the run up to the marketing campaign to redesign and furnish all of the units for market. The scheme rapidly sold out last year through Savills, bar one, which has had tenants sitting in it until late this year. And this is the unit currently being placed for sale.
"Since Houzz we have had clients show us pictures of that apartment saying 'we think this is lovely and we'd like something just like it', and it was such a thrill to be able to tell them that we had designed it in the first place," says Grace MacDonald.
Their design work also played no small role in the rapid sell out."The interior scheme and furnishings certainly grabbed people's attention all over," says Gavan Ryan of Savills, who handled the sales last year and is now charged with selling the last penthouse "So naturally it would be a good idea to get Angelina and Grace back to rework Number 15."
Most of the tenants through the last 10 years have been attached to local embassies or international firms or were Dubliners trading down in D4 and looking around for another property following the sale of their own homes.
The tenants at No 15 are buying in another Twinlite scheme in Dalkey and Phoenix are likely to be involved in designing the interiors there too.
"The tenants were so busy that in some apartments it was evident that the cookers had never been used once in ten years," said Grace.
"We considered who would be buying these apartments - mostly those trading down from much bigger houses in the area.
"The age and social group suggested a buyer that would have a sense of contemporary style but would ultimately appreciate the comfort in more classic furniture."
Embassy Court shows how one scheme can put a design firm on the map. "We've had lots of new clients who looked for us based on it," says Angelina. "That said we don't have a 'fixed' style or look. We are client led and everyone has their own style. People come to us saying 'we don't know what to do because we don't have a personal design style'. But showing them books of pictures, and online designs and components and asking them to pick what they like, soon helps them realise that they do have a style. And they really enjoy the process of teasing it out and discovering it."
No 15 spans 1,882 sq ft and has an entrance hall, a large open plan sitting and dining room, a kitchen, family bathroom, three bedrooms (one of which is en-suite) and a decent sized mezzanine level overhead for additional entertaining space or a separate home office.
There's a large south-west facing balcony and two car parking spaces in a secure underground car park which also includes a storage locker of 160 sq ft. Savills is currently booking private viewings.
15 Embassy Court
Prince of Wales Terrace, Ballsbridge, D4
Asking price: €1.795m (€1.865 furnished)
Agent: Savills, (01) 618 1300