59 St Albans Road, South Circular Road, Dublin 8 Asking price: €650,000 Agent: Felicity Fox (01) 633 4431
WILLIAM Berman, the first recorded occupant of a two bedroom Victorian home at 59 St Albans Road in Dublin 8 was a Jew who had fled to Ireland from pogroms in Crimea, today part of Russian occupied Ukraine.
In 1901 William (29) whose occupation is listed as ‘travelling draper’, lived in the house with his wife Sarah (21).
We can presume too that Berman used his home to cut clothes and that the couple prospered. By 1911, William and Sarah had moved to a bigger home at nearby Emorville Avenue in Portobello and had two children, Arnold (10) and Ethel (6). It seems the house at St Albans Road served them well.
They’re not the only ones to have flourished in this 893sq. ft property. Its current owner Nicole Murphy has lived here for 13 years and credits the house with her achievements during that time. “It has been a house of opportunity for everyone who’s lived here, a house where dreams come true,” says Nicole, originally from Limerick.
The fact that she was able to buy it at all was the start of her luck. She first came across the property in 2009 while searching for a place she could afford, within walking distance of the city where she worked for AIB as a project manager.
At €460,000, 59 St Albans Road was well out of her maximum budget of €400,000. “But the minute I saw it and looked out into the garden I got goose bumps. I went to meet friends for dinner after the viewing and I said I think I’ve just found the house that’s going to be my home, but I don’t know how I can afford it.”
Nicole managed to negotiate it down to €430,000 and with the help of a top up on her loan, she secured the keys.
At first, she entertained her friends there, holding dinner parties in the sitting/dining room, and cocktail evenings on the patio at the back, which faces west and gets the afternoon and evening sun.
But after two years, she found herself wishing to have a child. She attended a fertility clinic and after seven rounds of treatment over three and a half years, she became pregnant with twins. “Once the twins were born, it was all so worth it. It was life changing for me and all for the better,” she says. Will and Maya are now 7.
It was while she was going through fertility treatment that she began to wonder how she was going to juggle raising young kids on her own and working full-time. And then she had a light bulb moment.
Having interviewed her parents extensively to find out what the crunch point was in raising children, she was told that it was definitely dinnertime: getting the food on the table when the kids were vying for attention.
“Every parent I talked to said 6-7pm was the most stressful time – what with getting home after work, trying to cook the dinner and give the kids attention at the same time.
“I needed to make this golden hour as automatic as possible and meal planning was key. While embarking on the long road of fertility treatment, I started getting all my go-to-recipes together and created my own meal planner.
"I summarised all the recipes on home-made magnetic cards, categorised them by colour to ensure good meal rotation and made a magnetic board to display them all and make meal planning easy.
“Using the planner, saved me €200 per month as a single person, reduced food waste dramatically and gave me a few nights off cooking.”
Nicole decided it worked so well that it could be the basis of a business.
“I came up with an idea for a visual magnetic meal planner which plans the meals for the week in advance. The ‘Magneplan’ is a time saving and budgeting tool for parents.”
While the business took a back seat for a time right after the birth of her two children, it was strong enough to encourage her to take redundancy from her workplace and she started to work on Magneplan in earnest last year.
Magneplan.com is now a thriving enterprise and Nicole now plans to scale it up.
Much of this good fortune she puts down to living at 59 St Albans Road.
“The very fact that I was able to find a way to buy it in the first place and after that, work on it over years to turn it into a beautiful home made me sit back and say, “Wow If I can do this, I can do lots of things. And now I need other big things to do. That’s how it helped me.”
When Nicole first moved in, she increased the energy rating by changing all the windows and the two French doors at the back to solid mahogany frames with double glazed glass, and she insulated the attic.
Previous owners had extended it at the back and knocked down a wall between the sitting room and dining room to make one big room.
The original features include the high ceilings with Victorian ceiling roses, original sash windows, a picture rail and a dado rail and a stained-glass door in the hallway leading into the kitchen. The interior was changed very little. “I really appreciated the taste of the previous owners,” she says.
The house is painted in white and cream tones throughout and the windows are big, letting in lots of light. In the kitchen, she removed an existing counter and added an Ikea cupboard unit and had a kitchen table with a pine finish on top made. She also had built-in shelves and cupboards made for the living room.
This room has polished wooden floors and a high ceiling. It houses a large comfortable couch and a Regency breakfast table and chairs, as well as a bureau. “I love that room. It’s very spacious and airy. It really gives you head space,” says Nicole.
The furniture is original in the master bedroom too. The other room was originally a double bedroom with a double bed. At one time, it served as an office for Nicole and more recently it sleeps her two twin children.
Outside the back garden is no longer used for cocktail parties, but is a peaceful setting with a gravelled lawn, leafy plants along the borders and a stately Acer tree.
And now her house will again help her take the next step up.
Nicole now plans to sell N059 and use the equity to inject into her business and expand . “It also hit me recently that I don’t need to be in Dublin anymore. It makes sense to sell the house with the added bonus of being mortgage free at 50.” She plans to move closer to her family in Listowel but is grateful for her time spent in at No59.
“This house has enabled make to do so much. It’s been a gift that was handed down by previous owners and there’s a lot of love in these walls.” Felicity Fox estate agents is guiding the house at €650,000.