Tuesday 18 June 2019

Swings above hot tubs and tropical-garden bathrooms are the new trends in Irish penthouses

Swings above hot tubs are among the latest requests from roof-pad buyers

One of the penthouses at Lansdowne Place in Ballsbridge
One of the penthouses at Lansdowne Place in Ballsbridge
21 Merrion Village bathroom
The exterior of Merrion Village exterior
The living room with a cocktail bar
The living/dining room at the Dunluce showhouse
One of the penthouses at Lansdowne Place in Ballsbridge, with a sprawling living area with central fireplace and double height ceiling
Lansdowne Place kitchen
One of the bedrooms in Dunluce, Dublin 4
Arlene McIntyre, founder of Ventura Designs. Photo: Bryan Meade
The exterior view of Landsdowne Place

Róisín Carabine

Sky bars, state-of-the-art home cinema rooms, freshwater aquariums, glass stairwells and five-star, spa standard bathrooms. Then there are those who can't live without a swing over their indoor hot tub.

Dublin's new generation of penthouse dwellers have very specific needs. Californian-born Arlene McIntyre, founder of one of the country's best known interior design practices, Ventura Designs, is well versed in the whims and fancy of the penthouse dweller. She's been working her design magic on Dublin's lofty living spaces for the last number of years as the demand for lateral city living has risen. Lately her work includes a new penthouse showhouse in Dunluce, Dublin 4.

"The swing over the hot tub was definitely one of the more unusual requests," says McIntyre, recalling how it required the services of an architect, structural engineer and builder to make it happen.

"That same owner also wanted his bathroom transformed into a tropical garden," she says.

The living room with a cocktail bar
The living room with a cocktail bar

Other more 'standard' luxury requests have ranged from installing top-of-the-range kitchens with designer appliances - that will probably rarely, if ever, get used - to motorised blinds and swanky walk-in wardrobes fitted out with beautiful bespoke joinery that would make even Carrie Bradshaw envious.

But it's not just the demands of the new penthouse owner that have changed; it's the penthouses themselves. Fuelled by a growth in foreign buyers, newly-built penthouses are being designed to look less home-grown and more international.

"There's a definite demand for something sophisticated and tailored, yet low maintenance and easy living, akin to a luxury boutique five-star hotel," says McIntyre.

And business is on the up. Ventura now has three showrooms and a team of 40, offering everything from interior design advice to space planning, bespoke furniture and joinery and turnkey fitouts.

"We have really researched this new penthouse dweller. We know exactly what they want and need and we can give it to them, whims and all, in one complete package."

It's why she was chosen to style the Blackhall Green Homes-built showhouse apartment at Dunluce, tucked off Anglesea Road in upmarket Ballsbridge, although rumours abound that it's under offer, including its contents, such is the demand for large luxury lateral homes.

Arlene McIntyre, founder of Ventura Designs. Photo: Bryan Meade
Arlene McIntyre, founder of Ventura Designs. Photo: Bryan Meade

Designed by Derek Tynan of DTA Architects, penthouses at the award-winning boutique development are targeted at wealthy downsizers and have up to 1,645 sq ft of living space, including large open-plan living and dining rooms with fabulous floor-to-ceiling windows, designer kitchens and wraparound balconies.

They are priced from €1.7m and come with an annual service charge of €6,000.

"For potential buyers, the real draw is without doubt the location but also the views. Penthouses here boast the most spectacular, unrivalled 360-degree views over Dublin's top postcard locations," says Caroline Lees of Hooke & MacDonald, joint selling agents at the scheme along with Lisney New Homes.

The posh pad at the top of the building block has always been regarded as a status symbol. But now a new breed of buyers in the new homes market with a head for heights and equally dizzy price tags are being wowed by luxury perks.

The likes of which are being championed by nearby Lansdowne Place, a super luxury development built on the 6.8 acre site of the former Berkeley Court and Jury's hotels. Think residents' lounge, library, meeting rooms, cinema room as well as gym, sauna, steam room, treatment rooms and 24-hour concierge.

Designed by O'Mahony Pike Architects and styled by award-winning London-based interior design studio, Goddard Littlefair, the scheme's three sprawling penthouses with sizeable private outside terraces are believed to have been already snapped up. They just launched in September with prices from €2.15m to a dizzying €6.5m.

One of the penthouses at Lansdowne Place in Ballsbridge, with a sprawling living area with central fireplace and double height ceiling
One of the penthouses at Lansdowne Place in Ballsbridge, with a sprawling living area with central fireplace and double height ceiling

"Nothing of this quality has ever been seen before on the Dublin market. Penthouses here are akin to what you'd expect to find in the likes of Knightsbridge or Chelsea in London," says Simon Ensor of Sherry FitzGerald, joint selling agents, along with Savills, of the scheme.

"Living here is like living in a five-star hotel," says Ensor of the scheme targeted at wealthy overseas Irish buyers who want a Dublin base, even if only to use occasionally.More penthouses are expected to be released early next year.

In the second-hand market things are also looking up. Last year, a refurbished penthouse at 16 Embassy Court on Prince of Wales Terrace in Ballsbridge sold through Savills for €2.45m. In Dublin 2, a three-bed second-hand penthouse at 18 Lower Baggot Street exceeded its €1.5m asking price when it sold for €2.285m.

In March, a revamped two-bed duplex apartment previously owned by financier Derek Quinlan, in the residential wing of the five-star Merrion Hotel, was offered for sale through Lisney for €3m. The 2,368 sq ft penthouse which boasted a private bar cum 'man cave', and 27ft south facing balcony is now listed as 'sale agreed' on the agent's website.

"People will pay strong money for location and quality. There's still a huge demand for many of the older penthouses, even though they don't have the ancillary facilities," says Christopher Bradley of Sherry FitzGerald.

The agency is selling a penthouse previously owned by Dunnes Stores boss Margaret Heffernan at 21 Merrion Village in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 for €1.95m. Built in 1986, the 2,228 sq ft two-bed, two-balcony apartment, with a cocktail bar, has been given the most extravagant makeover by its current owners. And while some of the decorative touches might seem over-the-top for some buyers - mirrored ceilings and button-back leather-clad walls - its size and location shouldn't see it languishing on the market for too long.

"Penthouses are in short supply in Dublin. Those in Dublin 4 and 2 are particularly prized," says Bradley. "Number 21 is in one of the city's most sought-after residential developments. Homes here rarely come on the market."

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