Wednesday 21 February 2018

Returning to the heart of the southside for €1.495m

A Leeson Street townhouse is for sale at a time when families are again looking at city Georgians for homes

The front door of 8 Upper Leeson Street opens into a bright front hall with many period pieces
The front door of 8 Upper Leeson Street opens into a bright front hall with many period pieces
The first floor drawing room with high ceilings and detailed cornicing
The master bedroom in 8 Leeson Street
Stained glass double doors provide access to the family bathroom
8 Upper Leeson Street is a three storey, over basement property and includes a self-contained garden level apartment
The modern kitchen of 8 Upper Leeson Street
The living/dining room with marble fireplace.
The city centre property is within walking distance of St. Stephen's Green.

Katy McGuinness

There is evidence that the city's Georgian houses are finally coming back into vogue as family homes after decades when no one, other than very wealthy home-grown oligarchs, took an interest in their residential values.

To date, the interest has come from businessmen like Tony O'Reilly and Dermot Desmond, who have both restored "big square" townhouses in Dublin 2. Now, however, traffic and travel times plus historically low prices are encouraging high-end professionals to take the plunge in amalgamating flats or converting offices for good sized city homes, often with additional rental potential.

Most of these houses have been in office use for decades, but are no longer as fit for that purpose given the present-day needs of companies requiring open-plan, technology friendly spaces.

Today, some of these properties are being bought again by families who are prepared to sacrifice the amenity of a large garden in the suburbs for proximity to the business and cultural life of the city. A reduction in commuting time is a big motive: walking or cycling to work is a pleasant prospect compared to dead time crawling along the N11.

It's said that a number of barristers are leading this movement, and it's easy to understand why. Their hours are long and their pockets deep, so they are ideal purchasers for properties such as 8 Upper Leeson Street, which offers the enticing prospect of living within a short walk of St. Stephen's Green and Grafton Street, and a manageable cycle to the Law Library and its environs.

Located just before Leeson Street Bridge, No 8, with 2,230 sq ft of living space, is a Victorian three-storey-over-basement property dating from the 1850s. It sits in the middle of the terrace on your left as you drive into town from Donnybrook. Numbers 1 to 7, closer to the canal, were built slightly earlier.

The owners recall being visited by a conservation official from the planning authority when they were in the middle of the renovation of the protected structure. The official pointed to the 12-pane sash windows on the top floor of numbers 1 to 7 and insisted that they replace the top floor windows of no 8 with the same.

Not wanting to delay the building work, the owners complied with the request, although No 8 should correctly have a plainer two-pane sash on that floor, in keeping with the other houses on the terrace, further away from the canal, built at the same time.

The current owners acquired the property 11 years ago, and spent a year refurbishing before moving in. It was, they say, in a terrible state. There were multiple flats and bedsits, and squatters occupied the basement. The house was not derelict, but it was in a state of disrepair and there was plenty of work to be done.

They started with a new roof, and set about repairing and restoring the period features where possible. Many original features remain, including window shutters, original floorboards, dado rails, fireplaces and some original cornicing.

The rooms on the entrance level are used as a living/dining room overlooking the street to the front, and a kitchen fitted with a Rangemaster stove to the rear. On the return, through beautiful stained glass double doors with a stained glass fanlight above, is a family bathroom.

At first floor level, the elegant drawing room spans the width of the house and overlooks the street. The marble fireplace here is original, as are the double doors that connect with the master bedroom to the rear. The owners have installed an en suite shower room in a corner, and the room has another original marble fireplace.

On the top floor there are three double bedrooms, two to the front and one to the back.

As currently configured, the garden level is arranged as a one bedroom self-contained apartment with kitchen and bathroom. The apartment has its own entrance, and could be integrated back into the main house if required, but new owners may prefer to retain it as a separate unit for additional income at a time when rental spaces are at a big premium.

Behind the house is parking for up to three cars accessed from Warner's Lane, and the original mews site has been developed as a separate modern house.

New owners will find that much of the heavy lifting has already been done, but that No 8 offers the potential to configure the house as best suits their particular needs.

In terms of convenience, the location is hard to beat. There is a Spar across the road, and one of Dublin's best restaurants, Forest Avenue, is a two-minute walk away.

Loreto on the Green and CUS are also a short walk away. Ranelagh and Donnybrook offer good shopping, and a selection of pubs, cafes and restaurants, while access to the airport could not be more straightforward, with the Aircoach stop outside the front door.

8 Upper Leeson Street, Dublin 4

Asking price: €1.495m

Agent: Knight Frank

(01) 6342466

Indo Property

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