Race for 'shabby chic' home has flying start
The stone cut Leopardstown home has been a project of love, writes Donal Buckley
Bronagh and Paul Hunt's love of shabby chic New England-style interiors proved to be ideally suited to their home at 21 Arkle Square, Leopardstown, south Dublin, when they gave it a second lease of life three years ago.
The house was originally built by local philanthropist Charles Shields in 1869. Then, in the 1970s, the square and adjoining lands were acquired by a developer who refurbished them and added a few new ones in a style complementary to the arts and crafts style.
Known as The Chase, the estate retains its gargoyles and its original clock tower, which are characteristic of courtyards and stable yards and which serve to underline its association with the famous neighbouring racecourse as well as its connection to Arkle, winner of a number of Gold Cup steeplechases.
Originally, Shields developed the square of Victorian granite houses to accommodate 'elderly gentlewomen of slender means'.
But when the Hunt family bought the 115sqm (1,238 sq ft) terraced house three years ago, they saw it as providing them with an opportunity to enjoy a project.
"Over the 40 years between the 1970s redevelopment and 2009, very little had been done to keep this house up to date and improve it. So we did a lot of work," explains Bronagh.
"We also brought a lot of white into the house and upgraded the fixtures and fittings in the kitchen and bathroom.
"From travelling a lot in the US, we both developed a love of shabby chic and handcrafted pieces, and by setting these in a white background, we created a boutique hotel feel.
"We also set out to re-do all the original features – the cornicing, ceiling roses, high ceilings and original sash windows.
"Our style marries the best of old and new. We love simple, beautiful, furniture and accessories and have offset them against white walls throughout to showcase them and the house.
"Our favourite pieces in the house are our two Eames chairs and our antique-style tripod film lamp," she says.
Bronagh works for distillers William Grant & Sons as global marketing manager for Sailor Jerry rum, so one of the features of the house is the vintage drinks cabinet.
Paul, who is originally from Birmingham, shows how much he misses home by painting the front door the claret colour of the city's famous Aston Villa football club and adorned it with a lion silver knocker.
When Paul was a boy, the Irish international and Villa player Paul McGrath was one of his heroes. Now when Irish players like Richard Dunne and Ciaran Clark are playing for the team, their local friends will sometimes support the Villa team along with the fan.
As well as their attractive stone exteriors, another appealing aspect of the house is the unique setting.
"All the houses in the square back on to a green square at the back with a fountain in the middle and this serves to draw neighbours together in a sense of community. Arkle Square is like a little oasis of tranquility from a bygone era," Bronagh says.
To the front of the house is a landscaped garden with off-street parking while to the rear is a decked area leading to the large communal lawned area
At ground level the kitchen/ breakfast room is located to the front of the house and its upgrading included a selection of white fitted units complemented by a tan work surface and window seating area. It is equipped with both a double oven and a five-point gas ring while a utility room supplements its work space.
Timber floors, a fireplace, ornate coving and a central rose are among the features of the living room. Double doors lead from there to the dining room at the rear and its space for entertaining and relaxing can be supplemented by opening its second set of double doors which lead to the rear deck. This in turn adjoins the communal garden, which can serve as a back garden.
At first-floor level, the master bedroom is embellished with timber floors and ceiling coving, and it has an en suite.
The second bedroom, also a double, is located at this level as well and comes with extensive wardrobes. The family bathroom at this level has a fullly tiled floor. At second floor level is a third bedroom and it also has attic storage.
Bronagh explains that while they love the house and what they have done to it, they have decided to move for a number of reasons.
Both she, and Paul who works for Volkswagen, travel abroad as part of their jobs so they would like to live nearer to the airport.
"As I'm originally from Belfast it would also be more convenient if we were to live in an area like Malahide," she adds.
"As we have started a family with our one-year-old Josh, we would like a larger house. Having had such fun refurbishing our existing home we would like to undertake another project and so we are looking at the possibilty of a Georgian house," she adds.
Now that they are planning to move they have put a €485,000 price tag on 21 Arkel Square.
Further details from DNG 01 2832700